For the last couple of years, Convergent Dental’s Solea has been one of the most talked about technologies and brands in the dental industry. And what’s not to talk about? The capability to cut hard and soft tissue combines with little sound and virtually no discomfort for the patient. Win, win, win in my book. During this time, it has also been updating and innovating its technology at near break neck speed. So, nearly two years since launch, has Solea come of age? I talked with Dr. Joshua Weintraub, a dentist in Owings Mills, MD who recently incorporated the laser from Convergent Dental into his practice, to find out.
On the Late Side of Early
Many are familiar with the theory of discontinuous technology adoption, the “technology enthusiast” – “early adopter” – “early majority” – “late majority” – curve associated with it, and the deadly chasm proposed by author Geoffrey Moore which lies precariously between the early adopters and the early majority. Prior to speaking with Dr. Weintraub, I expected he would be one of the innovators or early adopters I’ve spent much of my career around. After all, here’s a relatively new (by dental industry standards) laser technology with bold claims about being able to cut both hard and soft tissue without the use of anesthesia. Having jumped on board, he must be a tech enthusiast, right?
I was wrong. Dr. Weintraub owns a “mostly restorative” general dentistry practice just outside of Baltimore, MD with one full-time and two part-time associates (including a pedodontist), and was quick to describe himself as not “incredibly” early in terms of technology adoption. He has previously used an erbium laser, the STA system for anesthetic injection, and a Vita Easy Shade, but there’s no digital impression or CAD/CAM in his office. Those may come in the future, he says. In terms of technology, he places himself on the “late side of early”.
Promise and Deliver
Just as his practice aims to provide “high quality and the best service,” Dr. Weintraub looks for his technology investments to provide the same. He felt his previous erbium laser just “over promised and under delivered.” He explained to me that the prior laser did not allow for anesthetic-free dentistry. Too many patients had sensitivity and it cut too slowly to allow it to be used routinely for hard tissue procedures. He ended up using it mainly for soft tissue. A Convergent Dental representative found Dr. Weintraub and asked if he could show him Solea. Dr. Weintraub was open to talk, but “not willing to buy unless I was incredibly impressed.”
He discovered the Solea ablates enamel faster, quieter, and cleaner. He made the purchase and after a couple of weeks found that Solea did even more than he expected once he got it into his practice.
Benefit the Practice and Amaze Patients
One of his most important deciding factors in making the purchase was that he “saw it could benefit the practice and amaze patients.” Almost six months in, Dr. Weintraub estimates that 95% of his procedures are performed without anesthetic. “Solea buys you time. Nothing slows down your day like waiting for a patient to get numb on a second lower molar.” Additional procedures performed within the time saved typically waiting for anesthetic to take effect pay for the monthly payment. According to Dr. Weintraub, “I do one to three extra procedures per day because I can do more on each patient without waiting [for them] to get numb. I’m able to fit in smaller cases without waiting for anesthetic.”
He says patients are “wowed” by Solea. “They were never ‘wowed’ by the erbium [laser].” One patient he fondly recalls was “so anxious she wanted extra topical.” “I was able to do the procedure without anesthetic and she was amazed.” Dr. Weintraub also commented on a pediatric case. “On a 9-year old, I was able to perform a crown lengthening and gingivectomy with only topical.” As the first Solea user in the state of Maryland, Dr. Weintraub has already been featured on a local news segment. And he’s definitely seeing more new patients due to word of mouth about this unique experience.
So, has Convergent Dental’s Solea come of age? As demonstrated by the new updates released at the recent California Dental Association meeting, the innovation continues to flow for this young company and technology. Whether it has come of age may be debatable, but it certainly is proving to be getting better with age. And I’m looking forward to seeing the next stages of its maturity.