Read about Dr. Steven Thomas‘ extraordinary partnership with HighFive Endodontics that lets him focus on patients, while they focus on operations.
A HighFive to Endodontics
What can you tell us about your background?
I grew up in a small town in Jackson, Tennessee. My father was a surgeon, which influenced my desire to want to be a part of the medical world. Because his long extended hours in the hospital and being on call did not allow for much family time, I desired a career in the medical arena that allowed me to care for patients and provide a greater balance in life between work and family. As a result, I chose to pursue dentistry.
When did you become a specialist, and why?
Once I was in dentistry, and we began rotating through the different specialties, I recognized immediately endodontics was a good fit for me. It is very methodical, and the technique is consistent even though the teeth and patients vary. In addition, endodontics helps patients alleviate pain and save their teeth.
Is your practice limited solely to endodontics, or do you practice other types of dentistry?
My practice is limited solely to endodontics. My focus every day is to help patients alleviate pain, save their teeth, and provide a personable and comfortable experience. When you focus on one aspect of dentistry solely, it allows you to excel in that area because it’s the one thing you do day in and day out every day. Many dentists would find this boring and prefer completing a variety of procedures; however, my personality is such that I like the predictability and consistency endodontics provides.
Do your patients come through referrals?
The patients I see usually come to me through referrals from general dentists’ offices, other specialty offices, medical doctors, and/or patients’ word of mouth. I enjoy relationships. Endodontics has allowed me a multidimensional layering of building relationships from my team, our patients, and our referring offices. I thoroughly enjoy staying in touch with my colleagues and building strong relationships with my referring doctors in our profession and the medical community. It is definitely one of the highlights to my profession.
How long have you been practicing endodontics, and what systems do you use?
I have been practicing endodontics for 20 years. As I mentioned earlier, my personality is such that I like consistency and a methodical way of accomplishing tasks. One could imagine how much I thrive on systems. At Brookwood Endodontics (www.brookwood endo.com), we have amazing systems in place and an incredible team to help implement our systems. Technology, equipment, products, and a cohesive team have enabled us to become very efficient at providing root canals, increased our confidence in knowing we are providing them with the exact care needed and to do so in a timely manner, decreasing the anxiety of the patient.
What training have you undertaken?
I attended the University of Alabama for my undergraduate degree. This was followed by 4 years of dental school at University of Alabama School of Dentistry (UABSOD) — a 1-year hospital dentistry residency and a 2-year endodontic residency. In addition, I complete a significant amount of continuing education annually to keep abreast of all the latest advancements in our field.
What is the most satisfying aspect of your practice?
Most patients who come to see me are in pain and are terrified of the dentist or of getting a root canal. The most satisfying aspect of my practice is to help patients overcome their fears by providing a personal experience in a compassionate and caring environment. I believe the efficiency of the root canal treatment also helps relieve the patients’ anxiety by decreasing the amount of time they actually spend in the dental chair. Our goal is to alleviate the patients’ pain, provide a caring and compassionate environment, while completing the root canal treatment needed as quickly and efficiently as possible. We strive to be the experts in our specialty utilizing the most up-to-date technology while providing the treatment our patients need.
Professionally, what are you most proud of?
Professionally, I am most proud of the exceptional treatment we provide. We utilize 3D imaging on each tooth, which has elevated the accuracy of our treatment. Every root canal in our practice is completed with a microscope, and we utilize the most up-to-date tools and techniques to accomplish the exceptional treatment we provide. In addition, having partners elevates the care provided as we hold one other accountable, consult with one another, and learn from one another.
What do you think is unique about your practice?
The uniqueness of our practice is the excellent and efficient treatment provided in a caring and compassionate environment. In addition, practicing with partners also has a unique advantage as we can learn from one another, grow together, and encourage one another.
What has been your biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge has been continuing to maintain the vision of our practice in the face of growth. As we grow to increased capacity and add more endodontists/partners, the responsibilities of the business aspect of the practice become increasingly challenging to maintain. This has resulted in an extraordinary partnership with HighFive Endodontics. HighFive support has enabled me to focus on excellence in patient care, while their focus has been on operations. I was in private practice for 18 years prior to joining HighFive, and it has been encouraging to have a team come alongside me, enabling me to continue to pursue my passion for excellence in endodontics and patient care.
What would you have become if you didn’t become a dentist?
If I had not become a dentist, I probably would have been a physician of some sort because my passion is caring for patients.
What are your thoughts about the future of endodontics?
I believe endodontics and dentistry continue to have a bright future. The profession is excellent at providing a balance between work and family. In today’s environment, dentists have options. They can own their own practice, or if they prefer not to carry all the responsibilities of running the business aspect of dentistry, dentists and endodontists now have the option to practice in a group-type setting.
What advice would you give to a budding endodontist?
I would share with a budding endodontist that their future is bright. Endodontics is a secret profession that is rewarding on multidimensional levels, challenging, and fun all at the same time. Becoming an endodontist is definitely one of the best decisions I have made in my lifetime.
What are your top tips for maintaining a successful specialty practice?
My top tip as an endodontist is to never lose sight of our primary goal — caring for the patients and providing excellent treatment. It is also important to maintain outstanding relationships with our referring offices that trust us to help provide care to their patients. I also enjoy having partners and practicing with other endodontists. When you are constantly helping patients in pain, the pressure can build, and it’s refreshing to have partners who understand and can relate to what you are experiencing. At the end of the day, it’s all about relationships, excellent care, and service.
What are your hobbies, and what do you do in your spare time?
My hobbies are spending time with my family, friends, and playing golf.
As HighFive Endodontics helps Dr. Thomas reach new goals, read about how Dr. Cameron Howard reaches his endodontic excellence through personalized care: https://endopracticeus.com/dr-cameron-howard-pinnacle-endodontics/