The Dental Office of the 21st Century: Dr. Barry Moretzky
“If there’s a toy out there that’ll make my work and treatment better for my patients, I’ll get it,” says Barry Moretzky, D.M.D. His midtown practice is well named: “Contemporary Dental Implant Center.” There are probably few NYC dentists as up to date on technology as Dr. Moretzky, who, with a mix of boyish enthusiasm and well-earned confidence about his own dedication to learn about the latest machines out there, notes that his office boasts a number of high-powered acquisitions. There’s the digital x-ray machine which delivers instantly and the biolase, a spectacular piece of laser equipment that prepares a tooth and gingival tissue for treatment without anesthesia. Then there’s the star of the office—CEREC—Chairside Economical Restoration of Aesthetic Ceramics—a remarkable imaging system that can model the image of a crown, surrounding teeth and all, and “mill” a special kind of porcelain that is safe (free of noxious material, such as mercury).
As most patients know, making a crown typically involves many visits, including a series of awkward if not downright uncomfortable impressions. CEREC reduces everything to an amazing 3-D optical image. Three years ago, when Dr. Moretzky bought one there were only 1,200 available in the U.S. (3,000 in the world). Today, he points out, there are now about 1600 such machines in the U.S. The machine, which does not take up much space, not only does crowns and onlays but does laminates as well. Of course, the more skilled the dentist and his staff, the less time is needed to complete the procedure. Needless to say, as Dr. Moretzky adds, “patients love it.” They also love what Zoom Two can accomplish, another technological innovation that bleaches natural teeth by way of an expedient concentration of light. Patients are so excited to learn of new dental technology that Dr. Moretzky brings into the office. They feel that he is keeping up with technological advances in the dental field and his office is on the cutting edge of dentistry.
The decision to acquire sophisticated technology raises questions about training and education however, as Dr. Moretzky well knows. Technology is changing so quickly that it’s impossible for dental schools to keep up in the way of including such instruction in the regular curriculum. Many advancements are introduced at conferences. Sales personnel are a major source of information, The field is so competitive a dental professional can afford to be choosy (most packages now come with automatic updates). But will dentists take time to learn about the new systems and ensure that their staffs are properly trained? Dr. Moretzky estimates that becoming proficient with CEREC, for example, requires three days in the office, three days outside and three days learning the new software packages. Then factor in additional practice in order to develop a steady hand. Though CERAC is hardly inexpensive, the payback, Dr. Moretzky says, is in volume of use. He specializes in crowns and implants. For those dentists for whom such work is not central, the $100,000 machine may be prohibitive. Still, the promise of new generations of CEREC, which will include modeling bridgework, as well as continued regular treatment, may cause dentists to consider the benefits of investment.
Dr. Moretzy points out that although fluoride has severely reduced cavities, not all cities have fluoridated water. Americans are fond of bottled water and diet soda, neither of which contains fluoride. Meanwhile, periodontal care has become an increasingly important focus for children as well as adults, though too few parents are sufficiently educated about dental hygiene (sweets, for example, if consumed in between meals do more damage than if capping a lunch or dinner).
February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, but Dr. Moretzky doesn’t wait on the calendar. He regularly visits his own childrens’ school and his sister’s (a teacher), eager to educate youngsters about the importance of good habits. He also spends time considering how to make his office more patient friendly and physically welcoming. His staff, which includes some dentists from other countries, share his view that the most important job of a dentist is “to learn how to listen to patients.” Now that’s a dentist who knows how to make an impact!#