Laser ROI Series: How Knowledge of Laser Safety Improves ROI

By Aric Sven and Moriah Sven

Aric Sven

Moriah Sven

Safety builds confidence when implementing a laser into your dental practice. It is the cornerstone of any educational laser program. Safety is not always the most interesting topic, but time and time again I have seen orphaned, unused, and dusty lasers owned by disheartened dentists with zero return on investment (ROI).


More than half of the calls Sventech Inc. receives are from doctors interested in selling their laser due to low perceived ROI. If that low ROI is simply due to lack of use, there is a great chance that a lack of safety education is the culprit. In these cases, education and hands-on training turns most of our customers into life-long laser lovers. Education gives them the knowledge needed to perform laser dentistry compliant with safety guidelines. Dental laser safety has been tweaked and tuned for years, meaning that well-established guidelines are available.


Recently, we all have been educated with knowledge about safely navigating in an environment that is new to everyone – COVID-19. Since day one, we’ve had mass media bombardment of how to prevent the spread and keep oneself safe. Most of these recommendations are common sense stuff, but the redundant reminders of, “wear your mask, social-distance, and wash hands thoroughly,” are displayed just about everywhere across the country. We are also updated almost weekly on new ways to safely prevent COVID-19 from spreading.


The dental community is well-versed in aerosol control; it is a large part of their educational studies. They take safety precautions daily whether it is flu season or a pandemic. When this pandemic began, if the doctors were concerned about practicing, they hit the books...or should I say “Internet” in this day and age. They read what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), professional societies, state regulators, mentors, and other practitioners were doing to promote safety and implement these new ideas.


My father practices dentistry in a small town in Illinois near the Wisconsin border. When the government said we were not safe and that we needed stay home, this did not stop oral decay or infection from causing severe pain. All cosmetic and non-essential dental work was banned. Only emergency care was allowed at this time. Many local doctors closed shop. My father chose to work during that time. Work was very slow, but the few emergency patients that came to him were extremely grateful that he remained open. He educated himself on how to safely continue practicing through the pandemic. The parking lot became the waiting room. Temperatures of staff and patients were taken. Patients filled out questionnaires. I installed a high-velocity aerosol suction that conveniently piped down from the ceiling in each operatory, catching overspray and creating a negative pressure in his operatories.


By now you may be asking, “Where are you going with this, Sven? What’s this got to do with laser safety?” The point I am making is that COVID-19 safety is new compared to laser safety. Our laser pioneers have made mistakes giving us wisdom on what we can and cannot do safely with lasers. Over the past 3 decades I have met so many dentists with a laser that they inherited with a practice, or purchased used at a “had-to-have-it” price, with hopes of becoming a laser doctor, only to find the laser did not perform as expected or they got scared after using it incorrectly and having their office smell like a St. Louis BBQ. Worse yet was when the doctor bought the laser new, but then failed to go to any training suggested by the manufacturer. Not using the laser for lack of knowledge actually creates a negative return on investment. These doctors can be future clients, but they must get basic training and sometimes need simple maintenance or calibration of their laser. Once they have this education and start using the laser with good results, then the return on investment starts to happen.


When I asked my daughter, Moriah, about helping out with article 2 on safety and ROI, she texted me, “That’ll be a great one. So many people are afraid of their lasers.” This comment should not have surprised me. One of Moriah’s many roles at Sventech was customer service. We will hear from her in the candid video below. She took the time to talk with our clients about their concerns. Most doctors that orphaned their laser would say that it either did not perform as expected or they did not understand their uses.


If you are not comfortable or confident in using your laser, then safety training is a great place to start. You are not alone. I have been in this industry some 30-plus years and only in the last decade did I learn the roles of a laser safety officer. They vary from state to state. Any beginner laser course always starts off with laser safety. A big thank you to the brave pioneers who made all the mistakes so that we never have to. Learn about your laser’s wavelength, safety zone, contradictions, state regulations, and role of the safety officer, and you will use your laser confidently and enjoy the experience! Basic laser safety training is a must and if that’s the only certification you have on your wall, it is a great start.


Next in this series is all about the impact of laser physics on ROI, my personal favorite part of laser education.


Aric Interviews Moriah (edited for conciseness) 


Interview Transcript

Aric: You mentioned that customers call Sventech saying that they do not use their lasers. Do you think this has to do with safety?

Moriah: Absolutely. This was actually the most common reason for lack of laser use. Like you said, lasers were often inherited or bought for a good deal, but without education, the doctors don’t know where to begin. With patients’ health at hand, it is obviously critical to follow the laser safety guidelines, so I understood why some doctors and hygienists were hesitant to get started.


Aric: What did you tell the customers who were discouraged about their laser’s ROI?

Moriah: I suggested that these doctors hang out with my dad for an afternoon! But in all seriousness, in these cases, it simply takes education. They need to dust off the laser, set it up properly, take some time to learn the guidelines, and then do hands-on practice. It can really change the entire vibe of the office: having staff become confident in their laser usage with a huge return on investment to look forward to!


Aric: Do you have any final thoughts you’d like to leave the doctors with?

Moriah: Just get started small. Get the laser set up, read the manual, sign up for a course. You can do this. These machines were literally made for dentists, so if you are in the dental community you can do this. You will feel great operating your laser without hesitations and without doubt in yourself once you know the safety guidelines. Like my dad said, laser safety is already established – don’t let your lack of safety knowledge be what holds you back. Use the wisdom of your predecessors and go get that R.O.I.!

Share this post:

Comments on "Laser ROI Series: How Knowledge of Laser Safety Improves ROI"

Comments 0-5 of 0

Please login to comment