Traveling CAD/CAM Artist Provides Same-Day Service to Dentists and Patients
For several years, I have been delivering same-day smiles at dental practices throughout the country. Providing this service, which I call CAD Smiles, has allowed me to build a thriving laboratory practice in cosmetic dentistry.
My career has always focused on smile design or cosmetic dentistry. However, a few years ago I wanted to see if I could achieve laboratory-quality results at individual dental offices while delivering same-day smiles. So, I talked to a dentist-friend about the idea.
He agreed to let me try the concept on one of his patients and it worked well. Now, this is what I do almost every day. There’s always a smile somewhere that needs to be fixed.
I travel nationwide providing my laboratory-technician services at dental offices that already have their own equipment, or if the practice is local, I can simply bring my equipment with me to the dental practices. Using the inLab CAD/CAM equipment, I spend about 10 minutes per tooth, and moreover, the patient receives the new CAD Smile on the same day with just one appointment.
Because my practice of visiting the dentist’s office is considered an in-house service or training, I make sure everything I do is within the state of California’s parameters of its dental practice act. Nothing is performed that disrespects or is out of line with the law.
This business model makes sense for me because I was using CEREC and inLab systems from the very start. I completed 30 cases in my first full year of my same-day smiles practice in 2009. In 2010, the successfully completed cases grew to 60, then to 80 in 2011, and 110 CAD Smile cases in 2012. Finally, in 2013, I put all my previous records to shame.
With each completed CAD Smile case, I found myself getting better and faster, while also adopting new techniques with my CAD/CAM equipment. I’ve also developed what I call chairside etiquette in which I introduce myself to patients by shaking their hands and telling them that I am their personal smile designer.
I enjoy hearing from each patient about why they are there and why they want to enhance their smiles. Because I am provided with the opportunity to see each patient in person, I can do a better job matching the case to the individual’s skin color, hair, and ethnicity.
The big difference for the clinician and patient is that the laboratory technician is right there with them. The clinicians tell me they love this service. All they need to do is prepare the case, and I do the rest. In most cases, there’s no need to worry about temporaries.
For a typical case, the clinician anesthetizes the patient’s mouth and then isolates the preparation. Then I do the rest—imaging, design, and characterization. When my work is completed, the clinician simply bonds in the CAD Smile.
At the practice level, the clinician’s efficiency per hour substantially increases. The dentist has the option of delegating tasks, as he or she feels comfortable, while increasing productivity. The prices for my services are based on individual patient needs.
Furthermore, instead of waiting at the dental office for the process to be completed, patients can hit the driving range, shop, or get a massage while I’m finishing their CAD Smiles. When patients return and receive their new smiles, I give the women bouquets of flowers and the men bottles of liquor. I’m having the time of my life doing this.
One of the benefits of this type of work is not having overhead costs. Out-of-town clinicians supply the equipment and blocks. I just need to bring some stain, glaze, palettes, and glasses. I plan my own travel and book my own hotels. I’ve even been invited to other countries in Asia and South America to explain how I do my work.
I can also design an entire smile on an iPad, meet patients via Skype, and share files with clinicians using Dropbox. In fact, in the past 2 years, Facebook has become my primary marketing tool.
One of the challenges I’ve encountered is the need to get to know the dentist with whom I am working. When that familiarity with the dentist is not present, questions may arise: Is the dentist efficient at prepping or knowledgeable in cementing protocols? I’ve learned to adjust to any issues as I go along, and getting to know a dentist and his or her style is something that becomes easier once the relationship is established.
While I use modern equipment to perform the job, I’m really going back to traditions of the past when in the 1950s and 1960s, every dentist had an in-house laboratory. I often bring my own handpiece, as I’m comfortable with it and I know it will run perfectly. I also come equipped with burs, ceramic powders, stain and glaze, loops, brushes, and porcelain trays. Depending on the case and office, I also sometimes bring my SLP camera, extra OTT light, and my electric waxer.
Moreover, all dentists with whom I work have an intraoral scanner and a porcelain oven, and most use e.max® (Ivoclar Vivadent, ivoclarvivadent.us). Upon being hired, I send a confirmation email to the dentist. This includes my terms and conditions and a detailed list of what to expect before my arrival.
I hope to expand my business practice so that I can have a team of field technicians throughout the country. Then, they can be readily available when a clinician calls and says, “I have a CAD Smile patient. Are you available today?”
I would like this concept to be a new job for technicians who want to do something more profitable than what they are doing now. At the end of each day, the patients are happy, the clinicians are happy, and I’m happy. Everybody wins.
About the Author:
Eddie Corrales is the owner of Downtown Dental Designs in San Diego, California.