How this dentist changed his digital workflow during COVID-19

By Kevin Henry, editor in chief

December 10, 2020 -- When COVID-19 began to affect the dental industry, Dr. Bill Kotonias and his team at his dental practice just outside of Minneapolis in Brooklyn Center, MN, pivoted from a mindset of worrying about the present to preparing for the future

"I talked to my [dentist] partners [Dr. Marty Spanish and Dr. Lam Son Tu] because I was like, 'Guys, it's time. We have to do this,' " Kotonias recalled. "That may be a little counterintuitive in a year like this, but this pandemic won't last forever, so we needed to be looking at the future."

Dr. Bill Kotonias
Dr. Bill Kotonias.

The thought of having "to do this" for Kotonias and his practice meant adding technology and bringing the fabrication of crowns in-house thanks to in-office milling. This included bringing in the in-office solution and pivoting to Glidewell's BruxZir zirconia.

"We had a goal to have a little more control over our finished product," Kotonias explained. "With that in mind, it made sense to have those options in-house and offer an environment that included same-day dentistry. I think everyone looks at things a little differently when you're doing your own lab work, so to speak."

The addition of Glidewell's solution into the practice seamlessly blended with the iTero scanners (Align) that were already in the practice, Kotonias said. After some initial training, he said that the entire team embraced the new technology.

"Everyone not only enjoyed the new challenge but also becoming a bigger part of the entire process," Kotonias said. "The assistants suddenly became an integral part of the designing and fabrication. It was something new for them and they loved learning and being more involved from start to finish.

"I also can't say enough about the incredible support and service from Glidewell that helped our entire team embrace this journey and make it successful."

So what does the "digital workflow" look like for Kotonias in his practice?

"I think it's all about efficiency," he said. "I think it's about how we 'used to do things' and how we can now do them better and quicker and with higher quality. If you're a patient-centered practice, you have to think about how you can really make patients the center of it all, and that means offering them better quality and quicker turnaround. I've had a number of patients who tell me, 'You know, I spend more time in the car just driving here than I would waiting for that crown to be milled.' They love being able to wait and have their final crown delivered to them.

"When you think about workflow, it's about making things flow more smoothly, and that's what this technology allows us to do for our patients."

I asked Kotonias what advice he would share with his colleagues about making an investment in technology heading into 2021.

"Dentistry is an incredible profession. There are certainly stressors that we all go through and this year has been kind of exceptional that way," Kotonias said. "Despite all of that, as a dentist, you have so much more control over your destiny, and you can do whatever you want. The nice part about having this view is that you have so many options and so many choices about how you want your dental practice to be. For me, this is just one more way that I can not only become better as a dentist but also provide better service to my patients."

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

Copyright © 2020

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