An Interview with Dr. Michael Woods
Dr. Michael Woods brings a needed balance to the practice of dentistry. His focus on cosmetic and reconstructive dentistry unites artistic, right brain creativity with process-driven left-brain technical expertise. But then, Dr. Wood’s career follows a rather unusual path.
Thank you for carving out some time for us today Dr. Woods. We like to start out these interviews learning how each person came to the profession. What’s your dentistry origin story?
Like so many in this profession, dentistry runs in my family. My grandfather was a dentist, my aunt is an endodontist and my uncle is a periodontist. As you can imagine I was often told to go to dental school. So, of course after my high school graduation I went to engineering school, because, as an 18-year old, you did the opposite of what you were told!
I got my degree in electrical engineering from Purdue University in 2005 and started work as an engineer. However, I quickly realized I didn’t enjoy engineering. So I enrolled in the Indiana University School of Dentistry in 2006 and graduated with my DDS in 2010.
I was an associate for two years before buying my own practice in 2012. We’ve been growing pretty steadily ever since.
Can you talk about where your growth is coming from?
The growth is very organic. We don’t really do any external marketing. We’re getting a lot of personal referrals from other patients. The only marketing I’ve done in the past 2 years is sending postcards to new residents as a “welcome to the area”.
This is going to sound kind of corny, but we just try and treat people right. We’re not trying to get too fancy. When people come in, we try and show them a smile, know their name and offer outstanding clinical service. It’s not really rocket science by any means.
Do you have any growth targets you’re looking to reach?
No. I never set out to run a large practice. But this past year we just moved into a new, larger building to accommodate all the growth we’ve been experiencing. We’ve now got six operatories, five of which have been equipped. We’re holding that sixth one for a future associate. Our staff now consists of two hygienists, two assistants, two front desk staff, and my wife, who helps out with a few things as well.
Is it difficult keeping up with the growth?
It’s actually a bit of a struggle right now because we have a 3 to 4-month lead time to get in for a cleaning. Now, we obviously have cancellations. Also, people get sick so we can make exceptions. But that’s one of our largest challenges right now. We have people that want to come in, but we’re having trouble fitting them on the schedule.
How did you become involved in orthodontics?
We run a family practice, but with a focus on cosmetics and reconstruction. Orthodontic work definitely plays into the cosmetics. But I want to point out that I’m exceptionally conservative in picking the orthodontic cases I do versus the cases I refer out. I only choose cases that I know I can get a very good result. I still have two or three orthodontists that I refer the majority of my work too as well.
How did you become involved with SureSmile®?
In 2012, I started with Invisalign® when I bought my practice. I had been using them up until last year. Then I got a digital scanner (Carestream CS 3600 intraoral scanner). Because Invisalign only accepts iTero digital impressions, I had to make a change. I did some research as to what aligner systems were open source. I really liked everything I read about SureSmile, and I like Dentsply Sirona as a company. So, I went with them.
How have you found a difference between SureSmile and your previous platform?
There are some definite points of differentiation between the two platforms. With SureSmile I find that I’m using fewer attachments. Also, treatment seems to go a little quicker with SureSmile. I can’t tell you why, but none of my patients seem to make it the full two weeks before the trays become loose. This means the teeth have already moved in the next position. So, we might wind up swapping out trays a little quicker.
Another area of differentiation comes up at the end of treatment. With Invisalign you take off all the attachments, polish everything up. Then you make sure the bite is good, the patient is comfortable and you both like the esthetics. Then you get the retainers. You can order them from Invisalign, but this is an additional cost.
For SureSmile, you remove all the attachments for the last tray, which in essence, becomes their retainer. So at the end of the case, I find with SureSmile when we finish, we’re finished.
Obviously, there’s a convenience, in that the patient doesn’t have to come back in a week or two to pick up their retainer. I’ve got patients who have to drive a fair distance to see us. I’m saving them a 30 to 45-minute drive each way. Being able to give them their final retainer on the last visit is a win-win for us and the patient.
I finished two cases in the last two weeks. And with both there were no refinements. I find this is pretty typical of SureSmile.
How do you like working with the SureSmile Digital Lab?
They’re fantastic. Just the other day I spoke to some of the clinical staff and together, we figured out how I could modify the existing treatment trays to use with Class II elastics. Together, we figured out how I can cut the trays and get everything in the right position. They were able to walk me through the whole process.
Thank you for your time Dr. Woods!
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