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Dentist in Ashland

LocalsGuide Article: The Evolution of Soulsmile

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LocalsGuide Article: The Evolution of Soulsmile

We are always so grateful to Shields and the LocalsGuide crew when they want to interview us and help people get to know Soulsmile and the people behind it. This is the full transcript of the article that ran in the December 2017 issue of the LocalsGuide in Ashland, OR ...

ashlanddentistinterview

Hi Aron, it’s been a year since we last spoke. Tell us, what’s new with Soulsmile?

Shields, thank you for this interview opportunity. This type of support from the community has helped Soulsmile get its message out and boosted it beyond the business startup phase. Having moved mid-career from the Bay Area three years ago to start anew - I can’t express my thanks enough! We are committed to providing one patient at a time, high-tech, high-touch general dentistry with an emphasis on complex dental conditions and cosmetics. We deliver this service at a great value by really listening to our patients to come up with a treatment plan based on the patient’s wishes, and then performing in an efficient, predictable manner to achieve excellent results.

New for 2018 will be a monthly membership plan for uninsured patients, laser-assisted hygiene at no additional charge, cone beam 3D imaging for critical diagnostics, and 3D printing of diagnostic models for accurate planning and enhanced patient communication.

And personally? Congratulations on your baby girl. How is fatherhood?

Thank you! Siena is six months old and it has been absolutely wonderful. I’m most blown away by motherhood. My hat is off to my wife, Ryann, and moms everywhere. Second, I’m in love. I think about Siena all of the time and can’t wait to see her. I’m a softie already!

Starting a business brings about unexpected challenges. Would you share yours?

Right, these challenges are lifelong learning in an organic sense, as opposed to more academic learning. The two most significant areas where this has occurred for me with Soulsmile have been, first, the earning of trust in a new practice and in a new community, and, second, the development of my leadership skills.

I see that, as your “Modern Dentistry - Classic Values” slogan touches on trust.  

Yes, absolutely. That motto is eight years old now, stemming from our San Francisco office.  It’s easy to write a strong message into a vision statement, but trust is earned the old-fashioned way in dentistry. It doesn’t matter to a new patient if you’ve been practicing for a dozen years.  Making a solid connection with everyone walking through the door who values our services is at the heart of earning that trust. So I have spent a good amount of thought on earning and maintaining trust rather than assuming years of service, academic background, technology or past success will speak for themselves.

How has leadership become a learning opportunity for an experienced dentist?

To get Soulsmile where we want it, I need to become a better leader. Simple as that. Podcasts and audiobooks, which were already in my regular diet, have been perfect for improving my shortcomings in this area. Of the ten or so audiobooks I have listened to this quarter, Extreme Ownership, written by a couple of Navy Seals, was my favorite. In a nutshell, it’s about taking full responsibility for every condition, situation, and outcome.

Beyond the application of building and maintaining a high-performance team, I now see what an amazing dynamic my team members bring to our business since taking full ownership of training, working through our vision, being vulnerable to them about my own dreams and concerns, giving them a safe and fun place to work, and allowing them to express themselves and own their personal connection with patients. It’s really exciting for me to see this team becoming one of our greatest strengths.

Those points make sense, as your patient reviews often mention being very trusting of you and your team.  Do you have a particular philosophy to credit?

We feel lucky to have such great reviews from patients and humbled by their generosity. The patient experience is always on our mind. We actually have a six-star goal: a five-star review plus a willingness to refer a friend. Our patient exams are at the heart of this trust, I believe. A quote from the famous martial artist, Bruce Lee, might shed light on our approach: “No way as way, no limitation as limitation.” Lee’s philosophy rejected the idea of a preconceived response (in our application, a predetermined dental treatment plan) and mandates an open mind with no perceived limitation of what is possible. I can’t tell you how many times being open-minded, curious and communicative has uncovered a wide range of really important dental considerations, from a patient’s unexpressed desires to big life events - good or bad, to finances, to hidden dental conditions. We believe that every patient has a unique view of their dental health. Safety, comfort, dignity, beauty ... whatever the objective, it is in flux depending on a person’s situation. So our sincere goal is to have patients feel (“soul”) these positive ways (“smile”) about their dental experience.

So trust stems from focusing on listening before the big-picture plan?

Exactly. We combine what we have learned from our patients with a myriad of dental solutions - from simple to complex- to come up with an ideal plan for that patient at that specific point in their life. Sometimes the plan is even to do nothing; whatever fits the patient’s desire. Each team member is highly trained and crossed-trained so we can be nimble, often pivoting to a patient’s request while plugging in the relevant standard operating procedures that apply. This feels flexible, understanding and compassionate to the patient. But there is also an efficient and methodical backbone which gives the feeling of safety and comfort.  It also allows us to see one patient at a time and to keep fees at a good value. A patient leaving a review may not directly notice these things. Such is the case with many of our favorite businesses.

You barely mentioned technology, yet many reviews comment on this as a strong characteristic of the practice.

As Jim Collins stated in his business book, Good to Great, technology can accelerate a business beyond good, but it will not in and of itself make a business great. People will. I love technology in dentistry. It’s great for patients and the progress keeps us all engaged. Using new technology is a state of mind; it keeps you in the loop.  At Soulsmile, we don’t use technology before it is practical, tried and true. But we do continue to look for the slightest application for affordable technologies in order to stay in the mental game so that when the application of use say, 3D printing, comes full circle, we are on the train instead of looking for the station.

In your opinion, what is the least understood area of dentistry?

Dental implants. Implants are actually a group of components that are combined to create the part that the patient cares about: the tooth. Understanding the parts, prices and prognosis can be confusing. Also, a natural tooth is still the best implant. Implants are a fantastic solution for an empty space or a completely empty dental arch, but I think we need to respect mother nature and the patient’s desire to keep their natural teeth when possible and practical to do so.

What’s a question people don’t usually ask, but you wish they did?

“Here is my budget today and here is my projected budget, can you make me a three step treatment plan that will allow me to look and feel my best and keep my teeth healthy forever?”

Any particular observations from this mid point in your career?

It’s a great view from which to look around. I’ve been thinking about how my “n=” is getting high enough that what were anecdotal observations as a younger clinician have now become a large enough sample size to amount to bona fide professional experience. As mentioned, I like entering each exam and treatment with an open mind, a “beginner’s mind” in the yoga sense, and yet good clinical judgment and planning stems from solid experiences from which to confidently draw diagnosis and treatment proposals.

Lastly, I know you are an outdoor enthusiast and adventure athlete.  Any new projects?

My wife and I love the Rogue Valley as a base for outdoor activities. The dirt is perfect for riding bikes right now and there will certainly be a good amount of backcountry and Mt. Ashland shredding in the months to come. We love paddling performance stand-up paddleboards and rowing at Emigrant Lake. There are fantastic adventure motorcycle routes all around. The list goes on, and yet, I have to say, that taking Siena for simple walks in the woods might be my new favorite outdoor pursuit.

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The Scoop on Coffee Breath - More Than Just Coffee

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The Scoop on Coffee Breath - More Than Just Coffee

Apparently, the five-year-old son of a friend recently confronted her just prior to his school-driveway departure. He said, "Don't even fink about kissing me when you drop me off at school. Your breff smells like coffee."

Unsurprisingly, caffeine is America's drug of choice. We consume a total of 700 million cups in a single day! We at Soulsmile love our coffee. There's always a fresh pot brewing in the team lounge and don't even get us started on all the awesome coffee joints in town (looking at you, Case, Noble and Mix!). Yes, it stains teeth. Yes, added sugar can contribute to cavities. But we are big believers of enjoying life's treats, especially when coupled with a proper hygiene routine. 

We do, however, care about coffee breath. Coffee breath is not simply the smell of coffe. If that were the case, "coffee breath" flavored ice cream would sound just as appealing as coffee ice cream. Any takers? Not here. Coffee breath is actually the smell of sugar-eating bacteria in your mouth laced with coffee. 

So how does your gorgeous cappuccino become a menacing platform for bacteria? It turns out the chemicals in coffee contribute to a slow down in the release of saliva. Saliva production is usually one of our mouth's best defenses, sloshing around to disrupt bacteria. With coffee, this lapse in saliva flow creates the perfect breeding ground for the more than 500 species of bacteria in your mouth. Studies have shown that showing milk in the mix can increase these effects even more.

Not pretty.

So, to keep your pearly whites smelling fresh, there are a handful of tips to offset the effects of coffee after consumption:

  • Brush your teeth 
  • Chew a piece of gum
  • Drink water
  • Eat something mouth-watering (think fruit, not bread)

Another factor to consider is your mouth's normal bacterial state. Bacteria grows exponentially. So the more bacteria that's present before coffee will contribute to more after coffee (and a worse smell). Come in for regular hygiene visits with Soulsmile, our Ashland OR dental office, and consult with our awesome team members on the best home care routines to keep your oral health in check at all times. 

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Insurance Update

Today's blog post is brought you by a special quest author, our office coordinator, Nikki Kirkland, to keep you updated on our insurance information. Here's Nikki ... 

As a service to our patients, we are happy to submit dental claims and maximize insurance benefits to reduce out-of-pocket expenses.  Our office accepts all major insurance carriers, including most employer-sponsored group plans and many individual plans. Currently, we are a Delta Premier Provider, which means our Delta Dental and MODA subscribers benefit from our in-network agreement and fee schedule. We are also a participating provider with Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield, which includes LifeMap, HMA and RGA dental plans. To better serve our patients and community, several additional carriers are being considered for our participation.

As the end of the year approaches, it is important to keep in mind that most dental plans renew on January 1. Dental insurance is unique in that patients have an annual maximum allowed, and any unused benefits at the end of the year are lost. Now is an ideal time to schedule pending treatment and use those remaining insurance dollars. The same concept applies to flexible spending and healthcare savings accounts.

Many of our patients do not have dental insurance, but will still benefit from fair and competitive fees, treatment plan discounts and monthly payment plan options. Our experienced and knowledgeable staff is here to assist you with any questions you may have.

> Please don’t hesitate to contact our Office Coordinator, Nikki with any financial or insurance related concerns.

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You Can See What We See: Digital Dental Intraoral Cameras

We have a special post this week, written by our fantastic hygienist, Pam. Over to her ...

You’ll love our intra-oral camera!  You will now get to see up close and in detail, the state of your teeth. Our intra-oral camera is a small pen-like device that connects to our computer and a large monitor so that you can see what we see as we check out your teeth.

Benefits to you –

The intra-oral camera makes going to the dentist easier, provides patients with a greater understanding of their dental health and allows patients to be more interactive.

Early Detection of Dental Health Problems

The intra-oral camera enlarges your teeth to almost 40 times their actual size on a color screen display. By zooming in on problems we are able to see more than we could with the human eye alone. Often we can find the beginnings of dental disease (like decay and periodontal disease) that may have otherwise gone undetected.

Positive Patient Interaction

The intra-oral camera isn’t just a diagnostic instrument, but a great educational one as well. Most people cannot see into their own mouths, but with the camera we can point out areas of concern and the patient can see exactly what we see. This allows for a better understanding of oral conditions and creates an opportunity to ask questions and become part of the discovery process.

Great Record Keeping

The intra-oral camera helps make record keeping simple. The camera can take pictures of decay or the beginning of an oral condition and save images to a patient’s file. We can accurately track the progress of treatment or problems for years. In addition, we can print and send images to specialists and insurance companies.

The Intra-Oral Camera 

Because it is so small, the camera can reveal images of your teeth and tissues from angles previously unseen. Using the intra-oral camera is completely sanitary, as we use a different disposable camera cover for each patient every time. All images can be digitally stored, printed or discarded following an exam.

- Pamela Philips, RDH

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Dr. Kivel's CEREC Doctors Mentorship

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Dr. Kivel's CEREC Doctors Mentorship

You may have heard us bragging around the office about Dr. Kivel being a CEREC "Mentor". We wanted to share with you what that means for Dr. Kivel and for our patients. 

First of all, if you don't already know about CEREC, it stands for Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics, which means that dentists can now design dental restorations chairside (in their own office). This method of using CAD/CAM technology in the dental setting was first developed by W. Mörmann and M. Brandestini at the University of Zurich in 1980. CEREC makes it possible to produce and deliver ceramic restorations in a single appointment. No more two-visit dental procedures! Unlike other materials such as amalgam or gold, ceramic is more biocompatible and boasts tooth-like aesthetic qualities. Additionally, digital impressions are more comfortable for patients than traditional gooey impressions. 

Dr. Kivel at CEREC Course in Scottsdale, AZ

Dr. Kivel at CEREC Course in Scottsdale, AZ

Shortly after the introduction of CEREC to the American dental market, there was a clear need for advanced training so dentists could use the technology in their offices. Dr. Sameer Puri founded www.cerecdoctors.com and is the director of CAD/CAM at the Spear Center in Scottsdale, AZ. This is where Dr. Kivel participates as a Mentor for other dentists around the country learning how to use CEREC.

To serve as a Mentor is to act as a leader in the CEREC community. Dr. Kivel regularly audits workshops and courses to interacts and engage with new CEREC users. He is also involved in Beta testing new versions of the CEREC software and other related products. Mentors truly give back to the community - by acting as a resource for other dentists and by helping to develop this revolutionary advancement in the dental field. We're so proud to call Dr. Kivel our very own CEREC Mentor and the only one in Ashland! 

If you have any questions about this technology, you can check out our CEREC FAQ Page or Contact us

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