By Jonathan Widran
Though advancing technology and digitization has revolutionized dentistry in the decades since Dr. Stephen Seidler opened his first practice in Orange City, Florida in 1981, one crucial element of the patient experience has remained constant: most patients prefer not to be in a dental office.
But patients who come in for treatment at Sanford Dental Excellence, the thriving new Sanford, Florida based practice Dr. Seidler launched in October 2011, need not worry. Their dentist—designated as one of “America’s Best Dentists,” an honor issued by the National Consumer Advisory Board–is a trained and licensed in IV conscious sedation, whereby relaxant drugs are administered to the patient, using specific protocols. Dr. Seidler monitors the patient’s blood pressure, pulse, oxygen saturation and respiratory rates continuously to ensure that he or she is completely comfortable and reacting normally throughout the procedure.
Very early in my career, I realized there are patients that are mildly to severely apprehensive of coming in for dental care, and for that reason they often put off needed treatment,” says Dr. Seidler, a native of Cleveland who grew up in Miami and received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Florida. “I have been committed to continuing education throughout my career, including taking a 100 hour mini-residency in conscious sedation. Sedation dentistry allows me to do all of a patient’s dental treatment in one to two visits rather than extending it out to multiple visits. This is something most of our busy patients seem to prefer.”
A graduate of Georgetown University Dental School in Washington, DC, Dr. Seidler’s over 2000 hours continuing education throughout his career includes advanced study in implants, operative dentistry, crown and bridge dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, dentures, orthodontics, endodontics, periodontics, oral and IV sedation, and sleep disorder dentistry. In recognition of taking courses far in excess of what is required, he was awarded a fellowship with the Academy of General Dentistry, an honor less than 5% of US dentists have achieved.
Dr. Seidler sets himself apart from the dentists with the “bigger is better” mentality, keeping Sanford Dental Excellence small and personalized, with no associates, and a staff dedicated to achieving superior customer service.
“Patients who have had bad experiences with dentists really appreciate the personal attention they receive here,” he says. “We want to make everyone feel special; our goal is to provide a better experience for our patients than they have ever received in a medical or dental office. In each new patient visit to our office, we start by finding out what are each individual’s dental goals and desires before they ever sit in the dental chair Then, using all of the latest technology available, a thorough dental evaluation is conducted. By using digital x-ray and photo analysis we can almost always demonstrate to the patient any dental problems that may be present. At that time, if dental problems are present, possible solutions to correct these problems are given. Based on the patient’s feedback and their dental goals and desires, a treatment plan is prepared and presented. Once the treatment plan is accepted, a wide variety of financial options are presented where almost always one is available that fits the patient’s budget.”
Dr. Seidler offers an expansive array of services which address all possible needs. In
addition to complete general and cosmetic services, Sanford Dental Excellence also provides treatment for sleep apnea as well as adult orthodontics in six months or less. Specific services include traditional implants, mini dental implants (which are smaller in diameter than traditional implants, and replace missing teeth or loose dentures), non-surgical gum treatment, a six month clear braces program, all-porcelain crowns and bridges, tooth colored fillings, extractions, root canal treatment, complete ‘Facelift‘ denture services, sports mouthguards and emergency dental care.
Discussing some of the specifics of these treatments, Dr. Seidler says, “Orthodontics for adults is a cosmetic program, where we use clear brackets and tooth colored wires which provides virtually invisible braces. Using this process we can often complete treatment in 6 months or less. The device we use for sleep apnea separates the teeth and moves the jaw forward, keeping the airway from collapsing and the tongue from going in the position where it is dangerous for breathing. For people that cannot tolerate a CPAP breathing machine, this is a great alternative. Using mini-implants, less bone is required and the surgery is far less traumatic than traditional implants. In addition the cost of mini implants is often 1/3 less than traditional implants.”
Aside from Dr. Seidler’s years of experience and expansive technical proficiency, he believes it is that personal attention that sets Sanford Dental Excellence apart. His state of the art office is designed to provide the ultimate in personal attention and comfort. There’s no sign in sheet because patients are greeted personally by a staff member. There’s little or no waiting time with their comfortable scheduling. There’s no shuffling from staff member to staff member. Little amenities that Dr. Seidler includes to make the experience relaxing and comfortable include comfy pillows, blankets and light dimming glasses; soothing music that the patient can listen to through via the office iPod or a patient’s own source with stereo headphones; a warmed towel when the patient is done; and the opportunity to enjoy juice, coffee, bottled water and more.
Dr. Seidler also enjoys using the many digitized tools he uses now that didn’t exist when he launched his first practice in the 80s. The practice is totally “paperless,” the X-rays are now digital (no actual films are printed) and digital cameras now take “inter-oral pictures,” which focus specifically on problem and defective areas of a patient’s mouth. Being able to see enlarged digital X-rays on a screen allows patients to better understand Dr. Seidler’s analyses and recommended treatment plans. “I love being able to show them what I’m telling them,” he says. He also likes the new electric handpieces, which are much smoother than the old school models – and to the patient’s delight, devoid of that terrifying high squealing sound. Local anesthetic is still in use, of course, but now there are techniques that allow delivering the anesthetic to be painless and virtually 100% effective.
Dr. Seidler’s road from Georgetown to his current practice in Sanford has involved some unique twists and turns. When he graduated from dental school in 1979, like a lot of rookie dentists, he didn’t feel quite ready to immediately open his own practice. Opting to join the U.S. Navy, he was stationed in Orlando for two years in an environment that was like a traditional residency where he could learn from career military dentists who had different specialties.
“Taking the military route was interesting, and I learned a lot of things in addition to all the great dentistry training and experience that I could apply later when I went into private practice,” says Dr. Seidler. “I learned about organization, discipline, hierarchy and effective ways to deal with problems via the chain of command. I was able to take a lot of different courses in the Navy, which was really the start of my journey of over 2000 hours of continuing education. From that time in my life till now I have continually been driven to get better at my work, learn new things and improve my skills in many areas. I feel the day you say you know everything is the day you should hang it up. From that point, you’re just going downhill or staying the same. To be successful in dentistry, you’ve got to continue learning and applying that knowledge to making life better for the patients who trust you.”
After fulfilling his two year commitment, Dr. Seidler opened his first practice in Orange City (near Deltona), “on faith and belief in myself and not a whole lot more,” he says. “I started off with three chairs and one employee, by the second day I needed an assistant, after the first week, a hygienist, and it kept growing from there. Direct mailings were very helpful in attracting my first patients. Once patients were able to experience the level of care and personalized service I have always provided, word of mouth advertising has kept us busy from those early days to the present time. “
After practicing in the same location for 30 years, Dr. Seidler decided to sell his practice and move to a smaller facility closer to his home. After an extensive search, he located a great location in Sanford, Florida only 10 miles from his previous location. This allowed him to provide his services to a new patient base while still allowing him to serve his patients from his original practice. In October of 2011, Dr. Seidler launched his new office which would become Sanford Dental Excellence.
A devoted family man, Dr. Seidler is proud of his three children – adult daughters Dara (an actuary) and Aimee, a CPA whose husband George is a dentist serving a five year commitment in the military; and son Randy, who is a co-captain in his high school marching band and plays tenor drums and tenor sax. Dr. Seidler estimates that he will continue in practice for the foreseeable future and eventually shift into the consulting realm where he can help other dentists in person and online.
“I’m always interested in sharing my knowledge with up and coming dentists, and really emphasizing the fact that one’s education is never complete,” he says. “For now though, I am focused on making Sanford Dental Excellence a practice where everything I have learned is in the service of helping our patients to achieve great oral health and perfect smiles. I want to provide them with the best dental experience they have ever had, and that means going above and beyond what typical dentists are expected to do. My goal is to achieve the best possible results for them and make sure that from beginning to end, I exceed all of their expectations.”
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