New dentists talk about what went into building their dream practice

Dr. Kimberley Barclay and Dr. Lauren Jacobsen
Drs. Barclay and Jacobsen
Austin, Texas — Drs. Kimberley Barclay and Lauren Jacobsen know a little something about how to build an innovative practice.

The new dentists, based on their Texas practice Toothbar, were the winners in the “new build” category in the inaugural 2019 Design Innovation Awards. The awards recognize excellence in dental facilities that seamlessly combine esthetic appeal, function and design. The ADA Council on Dental Practice, ADA Member Advantage and BMO Harris Bank manage the awards.

Drs. Barclay and Jacobsen answered some questions posed by the New Dentist News about the essential pieces of equipment they desired and considerations they made when designing and building Toothbar:

: When you were building your practice, what were the most essential pieces of equipment that you believed every modern practice would need or should have?

Dr. Barclay
: We wanted to invest in high-quality dental chairs and delivery systems. In building our practice, we wanted to ensure we were creating a comfortable upscale environment for both patient and providers alike. While patients may only be in the chair for a couple of hours a year, our staff are working out of them for over 40 hours a week, so having top-tier, reliable and ergonomically sound treatment chairs and delivery systems were incredibly important to us. We love the thoughtfulness and attention to detail that ours provides, such as having the ultrasonic built into the continental delivery system, which allows for ease of use in addition to no cords being shown.

We also purchased an intraoral scanner. Instead of taking intraoral photos on new patient exams, we now scan every patient and go over their scan with them. The scanner we have has caries detection in addition to crystal-clear images, and patients are always amazed at how far dentistry has come when they are able to see their scan. It’s a great way to track recession and wear facets from clenching and show the patient how teeth have shifted a year later.

We also invested in intraoral cameras. For a modern practice, efficiency and transparency are key elements in the patient experience, so we take intraoral photos throughout procedures for both record-keeping and to show them why treatment was warranted. We wanted every operatory to have an intraoral camera so there was no excuse as to why an intraoral photo couldn’t be taken, and cameras we purchased are amazing quality and at a great price point. 

We also purchased a built-in nitrous delivery system. We built our practice with the patient experience on the forefront of our minds. We were all-too familiar with the nuisance of wheeling out the nitrous cart when a patient requested nitrous for a cleaning. As such, we wanted to make it an easy add-on for both patient and provider alike. While an added expense, getting cabinets with nitrous integrated was such a great investment as the ease of use and specificity for dental usage was well worth it. It elevates the patient experience and makes it memorable for them. It’s simple and easy to use for providers during routine cleaning or veneer preparations.

: Were there things on your wish list that you weren’t able to get but would like to acquire in the near future?

Dr. Jacobsen
: We would love to incorporate a laser into our practice, whether that be for cold sore removal or for gingivectomies, and we are trying to determine what services our patients would benefit from most before deciding which type of laser to get. We also purchased a panoramic machine with the capability of being upgraded to a CBCT. The future is definitely going to make CBCT more useful, so we wanted the ability to integrate it into our practice once we were ready for it.

: What are things to consider when deciding on purchasing new equipment for your practice?

Dr. Barclay
: In purchasing new equipment for the practice, it’s so easy to get caught up in the price tag and wonder if you really need it. The mentality of, “Oh, I can just take impressions and I don’t want to have to train my team on how to use a scanner,” coupled with a hefty price tag, can easily sway you against whether or not you need a particular scanner. The reality to consider is what benefits will come out of it beyond the obvious. Not only are you saving time and resources on material, the patient experience is the greatest asset. We want patients to walk out of our practice with something memorable so that when a friend asks them for a dentist recommendation, they can chime in with, “Yes, I go to Toothbar and they do this 3D scan of your teeth and you get to see everything up close and you don’t need those messy molds — they’ve got the latest technology.” We leave our scanner in the operatory so the patient can move around their model while they wait for the treatment plan coordinator or hygienist to come in.

: When you decide to purchase or acquire new equipment, who do you go to and what resources do you use to learn/buy the items?

Dr. Jacobsen: In purchasing new equipment, we rely a lot on our dental community. The online dental community is great. We post questions on the Nifty Thrifty dentists Facebook group, and get honest opinions from like-minded dentists who are actually using the equipment, and you can find great discount codes, too. It’s really easy to get caught up on wanting all the latest toys that the dentist next door has, but when building your practice you have to think about what works for you. Be O.K. with knowing you don’t need everything from day one and start with what’s important to you and what works for your patient demographic. We built our operatories to be fully functional and identical to allow for same-day treatment since that is a big part of our practice. We don’t have separate hygiene rooms, but that increases the need for intraoral cameras in every room versus just in the assigned rooms. Knowing what makes your practice thrive helps navigate what your equipment needs are in a sea of often overwhelming options.