The Wand – helping patients feel comfortable in the dental chair
Bradley Abrahams explains the importance of investing in new technology and how The Wand helps patients to feel comfortable.
Dentistry has long battled a poor reputation. The origins of which are steeped in the annuls of time and are more akin to the primitive practices of the barber-surgeons of yesteryear than 21st century clinical care.
But over the years great strides have been made to re-educate patients and eradicate these outdated perceptions. Even as late as the 1970s, the profession was working hard to eradicate poor press. This was often brought on by those dentists with a reputation of a ‘drill and fill’ approach to oral healthcare that sullied the standing of the whole profession.
Fast forward to 2020 and, for some of the public at least, the pandemic temporarily put paid to the massive steps forward to a more positive view of the profession.
With practices forced to shut and a backlog of cases building as a result, patients once again grew weary and wary.
According to research, British consumers were put off from visiting a dentist in person during the last year. With 43% of Brits visiting a dentist less often.
The reluctance centred on, among other things, virus transmission and cost. And the authors urged practices to focus their efforts on raising awareness about the risks of missed appointments to their health.
Despite being one of the safest healthcare environments, dentists once again faced the task of encouraging patients back into the chair.
Keeping patients smiling
For Dr Bradley Abrahams and the team at Smilecraft Dental Care in Stevenage Old Town, Hertfordshire: ‘Treating patients in a way that we would want clinicians to treat ourselves’ lies at the heart of their recovery. In essence, he says: ‘We want to give our patients the confidence to smile and the desire to keep smiling’.
A private dental clinic situated in the centre of Stevenage Old Town, Smilecraft Dental Care serves a community mostly made up of families. Some of whom he sees up to four generations. As well as: ‘Young, hard-working adults who want to strive for excellence in their lives who, for them, a smile is an important part of that plan’.
Bradley purchased the practice in August 1990. In those 31 years has made much investment in a quality team and new technology. This powers the practice into a business well suited to meet patient expectations.
Bradley has no doubt about the difference this makes to his team’s delivery of care. For him, a team approach is crucial.
He explains: ‘It is our team who make everything possible. They are the face and the voice of Smilecraft.
‘We are currently welcoming many new patients, who are sometimes in pain. They have been phoning around to find a dentist.
‘It is our reception staff who take the time to listen to what the patient has to say. They will make every effort to accommodate an urgent emergency on the same day or within 24 hours.
‘They make the difference between that person continuing their search or booking an appointment with us.’
Longevity of service
Dr Caroline King joined Bradley at Smilecraft in 2010. He is appreciative of her influence on the business, too. Bradley says: ‘It is gratifying to work with a like-minded dentist who instinctively has the same ethos and will always look after our patients beautifully.’
Keen to name check all of his staff, there is obviously mutual respect judging by the longevity of service.
Bradley says: ‘Dawn has worked with me as receptionist/DSA for more than 18 years. And Louise has worked with me as receptionist/DSA for over 14 years. I am really grateful for their long-term loyalty to both me and the practice.
‘Our remaining staff – Gosia, Cheryl and Claire – have been with us for less time. But they too are extremely valuable members of the team.
‘Two excellent hygienists – Nancy and Laura – support Caroline and I. When our longstanding patients come into the practice, they are always delighted to see familiar faces.
‘I am just one of the cogs in the machine.’
Communication is key
Excellent communication by everyone is also a key component.
Bradley explains: ‘We need to communicate clearly and on their terms. Unless we help our patients to understand their current oral condition, we really cannot expect them to appreciate the treatment options that will help them to make the necessary improvements.
‘Active listening is also vital to understand what our patients want. I have to remind myself to shut up and listen as I typically have too much to say!’
But the tools they have to do the job are also essential.
‘Imagery helps,’ he says. ‘So we take a set of clinical photos of all our new patients. We will use them as one of our tools to explain current needs.’
In fact, for Bradley: ‘All modern advances in dental technology also make the patient journey much more comfortable.’ And his patients appreciate the investments he makes.
In a COVID-19 dental world, it has proved important for the profession to assess and embrace revolutionary new ways to deliver dental care.
As he says: ‘Amid the pandemic, when we returned to work after the three months lockdown, we were delighted our dental software allowed patients to complete necessary paperwork remotely prior to their visits to reduce face-to-face contact in reception.’
The practice website boasts: ‘At Smilecraft Dental Care, we provide you with the latest in dental technology and techniques.’ Bradley is proud to count himself among those early adopters who are harnessing The Wand, a painless computer-controlled anaesthetic delivery system that replaces the traditional syringe delivery.
Bradley first began using The Wand seven years ago. He was prompted by a local anaesthesia course presented by legendary dentist anaesthesiologist, Stanley Malamed. He saw the opportunities it afforded in making the dental visit easier and more comfortable for his patients.
Whilst it seems a hefty investment in both financial terms and the time necessary to deliver anaesthesia, Bradley has no doubt that dedicating what’s necessary to reassure patients and deliver the best dental care is important.
The practice has a small NHS contract for children. He and associate, Caroline, both use The Wand for their appointments, too, without an additional fee.
Bradley explains: ‘When our patients require treatment, they are so much happier receiving local anaesthesia with The Wand.
‘Ultimately, all our patients need to feel they are individually important. And that we have time to listen to their concerns and then the time to provide the treatment they need to a high standard.
‘If a patient feels rushed in either aspect, they will feel uncomfortable and less likely to connect with the dentist and the team.’
As his patients testify, this truly does set his practice apart from others.
Patient reviews include: ‘Smilecraft is a warm and friendly dental practice. From the moment you arrive, the team make you feel welcome and they really do care about you’.
Another read: ‘Bradley worked on my teeth for over an hour and used an amazing pain-killing device called The Wand, which left me with no numbness in my lips. I was able to talk and drink with no embarrassment immediately afterwards. No wonder it’s called The Wand, it certainly worked its magic.’
Bradley says: ‘Reading good feedback gives us all the encouragement we need. It reminds us why we have chosen this profession.
‘If the start of a treatment session begins with a pleasant local anaesthesia experience, it sets the mood for the whole session.
‘A relaxed and happy patient is far easier to work on and also allows us to achieve our goal of providing our best work.
‘That makes a world of difference in terms of patients who keep returning for consultations and future work.’
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