There is currently a debate in the USA on the virtues or vices of the Waterlase. Some swear it’s the greatest boon to their practice from a treatment and marketing point of view. Others claim it’s the most expensive pot-plant holder they’ve ever invested in, and at $50,000 I can understand their point.
As a profession we’ve always been obsessed with gadgets. I fondly remember entering McCormack Dental on Bridge St to purchase my first instruments wrapped in their plastic packs, not knowing what to do with them but being fascinated by their shape and feel. Even today new equipment still elicits the same response. Coincidentally, the sales rep back then in 1980 was Richard Kenny, now with Henry Schein.
We may be able to put it down to ‘boy toys’ and I hope our gadget fixation won’t change as the times move on. The trade doesn’t really have to ‘sell’ us the new all-promising item complete with bells and whistles; we’re sold already!
So why should we change our equipment? We can improve the speed and quality of our work, together with enhancing the ease and comfort of our working day. The updating of old equipment also improves patient comfort and adds to their perception of us as modern and up to date. Meanwhile, structuring finance and leasing options also cut our tax bill.
When should we change? I believe it’s never too soon. I’m sorry I didn’t revamp my surgery years ago.
What should we buy? Obviously this depends on our area of interest. However, handpieces are an item we all use. I recently acquired an electric high-speed to go with the electric micro-motor I had bought when I redid the surgery two years ago. I had heard Larry Rosenthal speak on how they were excellent in prepping veneers, the benefit being no loss of torque when pressing the bur against the tooth, thus no stalling like an air rotor. It is also much quieter than an air rotor, with no whine, and the patients really appreciate this. There are many more items on the wish list including lasers, digital radiography and the Wand.
Knowing how to operate new equipment is very important. There is usually a steep learning curve with much that is new. This, I believe, is why the Waterlase is so controversial. Most of us expect to be able to operate new equipment right away but, in fact, often a course is indicated to benefit fully from the findings of other users, in order to gain from the increased treatment options and marketing opportunities afforded by our investment.
Who to buy from and where are easy, as there are many options and great suppliers. Trade shows are a great place to pick up reduced cost items, as the trade often seek to offset the cost of attending the show.
We need to ensure great value and, more importantly, great after-sales service. So my advice is to take a look around your surgery and make a wish list, visit your supplier or travel to a show and get started on better, more enjoyable dentistry.