Jason Decker, D.D.S. (Pediatric practice)
|There is no doubt the TLC has greatly improved the quality of dentistry we provide because we’re spending so much less time on behavior management and more time on teeth!|
Less than a year ago my partner and I purchased seven TLC Technology Lighting Centers as part of a major office renovation and expansion project. The first time we saw the TLC system we recognized immediately the kinds of benefits an over-the-patient monitor system would have for our pediatric dental practice. Yes, the TLC was more expensive than other options, but we bought them anyway because we loved the high tech ergonomic look and the ease of integrating several new technologies we were considering for our practice.
Cost Concerns Vanished During the First Week
As it turned out, all of our concerns about the cost were completely dismissed during the very first week we installed our TLC’s. The renovation happened in stages and as luck would have it, the plumbers ran into problems and informed us we’d have no nitrous oxide for a week, which in our practice is a recipe for disaster. We considered closing the office for the week but since we had the TLC’s in place, we set them up to play through a central DVD source, and decided to give it a go.
Miraculously, thanks to a steady stream of ‘Monsters, Inc,’ ‘Finding Nemo,’ and ‘A Bug’s Life’ playing on our TLC overhead monitors, and with no nitrous oxide at all, we had a supremely productive week. Kids who always had nitrous in the past were completely transfixed by the movies on the over-the-patient TLC monitor system, and they never made a peep. As a pediatric dentist, we that for kids on the fence in terms of high anxiety and a history of resistance, the distraction of watching a movie on the TLC got them over the fence, made the experience so much better for them, and helped us complete work that may not have otherwise been completed. That was when we really realized, “Wow! This construction project cost a lot and we’re glad we put a percentage of that budget into TLC’s.” That week alone paid for at least two of our seven TLC systems. If someone would have told us we couldn’t have nitrous for a week, I would have told them, “You’re nuts, we can’t do it. I’ll retire first.” But with the TLC, it was so easy. For us, the TLC has been a proven alternative to sedation dentistry.
We Spend Less Time on Behavior Management
Amazingly, as the year progressed, we found that with the TLC we use less nitrous in general, but mostly, we are convinced that the TLC provides a much better dental experience for children. They’re caught up in watching their movies and listening to their headphones and not thinking at all about ‘the evils’ I’m performing on them whether it’s the Novocain, the sound of the drill, or the pop of the laser. They’re just zoned out watching the movie thinking ‘this is absolutely the greatest thing!’ There is no doubt the TLC has greatly improved the quality of dentistry we provide because we’re spending so much less time on behavior management, and more time on teeth! This is what sedation dentistry should be all about.
Kids Just Lie There, Motionless, Distracted, and Completely Oblivious
As pediatric dentists, my partner and I have both noticed that we’ve had to change the way we treat borderline to well-behaved kids. In the past, those kids usually required a certain amount of cheerleading through the tougher parts of the appointment and a steady stream of banter through the easier parts of the treatment. With the TLC, we now find we just have to be quiet and let them watch their movie. It’s not for every single patient, but overall, we really have changed the way we deliver restorative care. And for me, one of the fringe benefits of using the TLC is that I love to work with rather loud music playing. With the kids so entranced watching their movies and listening through the headphones, I can now enjoy my music at higher volumes and they just lie there, motionless, distracted, and completely oblivious. This would not be possible for most pediatric dentists.
In the afternoons we do checkups in our back rooms on younger kids who may not be age appropriate for work in our major hygiene bays. Now, with TLC’s installed, I walk into one of these rooms with a 6 year old, a 3 year old and a 2 year old who’ve just had their teeth cleaned, all waiting for me to arrive and the kids are all sitting there quietly just watching the movie while their Mom sits calmly in the corner reading a magazine with no stress or commotion whatsoever. The difference is amazing. As a predominantly kid dentist, the TLC has been a great addition to what we were trying to accomplish with this new facility.
High Tech Office Design
We had also wanted to achieve a more upscale, high tech look for our new office suite and the TLC helped us achieve that part of our vision. The parents comment on it in the right ways, complimenting us with true, heart felt appreciation that we are really giving their child a better experience. We’re not getting any of those kinds of comments like ‘How many fillings will it take to pay for that?!’ We’re getting daily sincere remarks like, “This was my child’s best visit ever!”
Many More Referrals
There is also no question that the “Wow” factor from the TLC experience generates a steady stream of new referrals. We do very little advertising. We base our practice on professional referrals and patient word-of-mouth. We hear a lot of new patients say, “Oh, these are the TV’s we heard so much about.” Of all the new high tech additions to our office, there is no question that the TLC monitor system gets 99% of the comments. Recently, we had an open house for over 200 dentists and staff and the TLC was definitely the hot topic of conversation. Referring general dentists, orthodontists and pediatric dentists alike were blown away by the TLC’s ergonomic look and its capacity to distract patients and integrate all technology in one over-the-patient monitor system. No one has ever seen a dental product quite like the TLC.
As for productivity, since installing our TLC’s we’re getting more procedures done on well behaved children and we’re actually getting procedures finished on less well-behaved kids. It’s a combination of avoiding the lost productivity of that half an hour and getting more done in each appointment. And though we may be more productive (we’re a busy, well established practice with excellent patient flow and a great reputation in the community), for us, the greatest benefit of using the TLC is how it has genuinely improved both the quality of our experience as care givers and the parent experience in terms of lowering the stress level of bringing three kids to the dentist. The kids are so much happier and so fully occupied that we can comfortably sit and discuss the treatment with the parent while the child just keeps watching their movie, oblivious to our conversation.
Absolutely Worth the Cost
My advice to pediatric dentists considering a TLC purchase: The TLC will absolutely pay for itself in the first year. Month to month and quarter to quarter, you will be more productive with longer procedures and appointments that you wouldn’t have been able to accomplish because of the child’s behavior. For us, the improvement in the quality of life and care is priceless. There is so much less stress in the office. The TLC is an amazing tool to help distract even the most anxious patient.
Our staff loves the TLC. As a group, they tend to be computer-phobic so at first they were skeptically thinking this was just another computer monitor to complicate their lives. But in fact, they absolutely love it. It’s easy to use, and they just love how well patients respond. Across the board, mornings in the office are less stressful, the kids are quieter and happier, and the mothers are smiling and grateful (which, as all Pediatric Dentists know, is no easy feat). In fact, the TLC’s positive effect on the mothers’ experience has been worth every penny we spent, and more. They appreciate our efforts on their behalf to make the dental experience substantially less stressful for them, and more pleasant and relaxing for their children. And the TLC has proven itself to be an interesting alternative to traditional sedation dentistry.
Great for Autistic Patients
Just last week we had an autistic 7 year old patient who had been coming to us for about 2 years, every three months, and we had never been able to successfully complete a full prophy and fluoride. During her first visit with the TLC, the child sat there for a complete cleaning and fluoride. The moons just aligned. The child’s favorite TV show was showing and she sat there motionless, fully engaged for the entire appointment. The mother was thrilled, we were thrilled that she was so happy, and we finally got to bill for the procedure.
Patients Praise the TLC Daily
It is no exaggeration to say that we receive comments on the TLC on a daily basis, always positive and always appropriately positive. We never hear, ‘How much did that thing cost you?” Instead we hear, “We like where dentistry is going,” or “Our kids are so ecstatic.” It is really great. As a pediatric dentist, I honestly can’t imagine practicing without a TLC. We’d have to re-train ourselves to talk non-stop again during appointments, having just re-trained ourselves to be quiet and let kids watch TV while we work.
Integrates Technology in One Over-the-Patient Monitor System
The TLC also allows us to use much more technology than we used in the past. We have a central DVD system and cable box that play on all the TLC’s throughout the office. What’s great is when kids are watching a movie in the waiting room, that same movie is still playing when they come in for treatment. There’s no break in the action and much less resistance.
Helps Attract Dental Talent
We just hired a new associate who had visited multiple pediatric dental offices (as everyone knows, it’s hard to find a high quality pediatric associate these days). She commented on the facility and how the philosophy of the practice was comfortable for her, but she was most impressed with the TLC.
Buying Seven TLC’s is the Best Money We Have Ever Spent on Dental Technology
I know dentists have an apprehension about the money they spend on dental equipment. We definitely did as we bought seven units. But two days into that first week, we both knew, boy that was the best money we have ever spent on dental technology!