Longtime dental practices merge to construct new west Lawrence building, open sedation dentistry center
photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World photo
I have a hard time believing that I ever would fall asleep in a dentist’s chair. (I make sure I eat a pound of candy beforehand because my dentist’s selection, quite frankly, stinks.) But in the field of sedation dentistry, getting someone so comfortable that they fall asleep in the chair is a sign of success.
A pair of longtime Lawrence dental practices have merged and constructed a new west Lawrence building with the idea of expanding that type of sedation dentistry. As I’ve told you several times, I knew a dentist office was going to be the primary tenant of the new building under construction at Sixth Street and Congressional Drive. Now, I’ve learned the new practice will be called the Kansas Center for Sedation Dentistry.
It actually is a combination of Heck Family Dentistry and Enhance Dental Care of Lawrence. Dr. Brian Heck of Heck Family Dentistry has purchased the practice of longtime Lawrence dentist Dr. Patrick Moriarty.
Heck has retained the staff of Enhance Dental Care, and Moriarity will continue practicing at the new building as well. Dr. Clay Beshore, who was with Heck Family Dentistry, also will continue to practice at the new location.
The new center will continue to serve as a general family dentistry practice, but the new facility also is designed to greatly increase the amount of sedation dentistry the doctors can practice.
“There is a big population out there — and they are embarrassed by it — but they are afraid to go to the dentist,” Heck said. “I’ve really learned how big that population is that needs help getting their mouth healthy. They want to do it, but they are afraid.”
Sometimes that fear is related to the needle used to numb your mouth or the whirring of the drill that does the work, or any other number of stressors. With sedation dentistry, patients are put in a state where they don’t notice those stressors.
Sometimes that involves the use of medical gas to put a patient under. But much more often it simply involves medication that is applied under the tongue that puts you in an extremely relaxed state, Heck said.
“With that we do not put people to sleep, but they usually get so comfortable they fall asleep on their own,” Heck said.
As an extra benefit, the medication has an amnesia effect, which also helps reduce the fear factor.
Once sedated, the dentist then can do all the procedures you normally associate with a family dentist office. That can include cavity filling, root canals, bridge work, crown installations, esthetic work and even something called a total mouth restoration.
Sometimes it is people who need many of those procedures done all at once who turn to sedation dentistry, Heck said. It can get difficult to do multiple procedures at once using traditional dentistry practices. It can be too tiring for the patients to keep their mouths open for hours at a time. There are many people who don’t have a fear of dentists but use sedation dentistry because they don’t want to make multiple trips to a dentist.
The new facility has three chairs specially designated for sedation dentistry. The space was built with the latest safety standards, high-tech filtration systems and advanced equipment that eventually will allow the center to become a true emergency center for dental cases that need immediate attention.
The building also just has more space for traditional family dentistry — everything from cleanings to checkups. The two separate offices of the practices — Heck’s was on West Sixth Street, and Enhance was near Clinton Parkway and Kasold Drive — had about 10 chairs combined. The new facility has 14 chairs, plus other features.
Getting bigger has become important in the dentistry world in the Lawrence area. Heck said there was a significant amount of activity in the local industry currently. Several longtime dentists are retiring or selling their practices, and corporate dentist offices are coming to the city. Heck said having two local practices combined seemed like a good strategy given that environment.
“Being this size allows us to compete with corporate dentistry,” Heck said. “We have the resources to have the best technology and the best procedures, but we still really can focus on providing care in the most personalized manner.”
The dentist office occupies about 5,000 square feet of the 9,000 square-foot building, which Heck has purchased. He said an Edward Jones financial office, a Beltone hearing aid center, and Solutions tax service have reached deals to locate in the building. About 1,100 square feet of space remains to be leased, he said.
The dentist offices were in the process of moving into the building this week. Heck said plans call for the dental center to open at the new location next week.