Crooked smiles are even bigger business for Brewer Dental.
The Billings-based practice opened its fourth facility, Brewer Dental Orthodontic and Pediatric Center, in mid-May. Now, instead of referring patients elsewhere for braces and other specialty work, Brewer officials said they can keep more people within their campus at 2900 Central Ave.
“We see it as an opportunity to expand our service, so we’re a one-stop for all you need,” clinic administrator Doug Meissner said.
Brewer broke ground on the $885,000 building last fall. At 6,400 square feet, it’s nearly identical to the main facility across the parking lot. Brewer is planning a July 19 grand opening from 1 to 3 p.m.
Brewer has hired 25 new employees, including specialists in orthodontics and pediatrics.
Planning for the expansion began more than a year ago, largely driven by Yellowstone County’s growing population, Meissner said. He added that new federal healthcare requirements, aka Obamacare, will require 178,000 uninsured Montanans to get health coverage and increase the patient pool for health care providers.
“We’re poised to be able to take care of (new patients),” Meissner said.
Nationwide, dentists are facing challenges to their business on several fronts, forcing them to get creative and find more ways to attract more patients, according to Dental Aegis, an industry trade publication.
More young dentists are entering the field, increasing competition for patients, insurance reimbursement rates are tightening and older dentists are postponing retirement, according to the magazine.
At Brewer’s new center, the focus is on customer comfort, which Meissner says helps encourage people to come back and refer the practice to others.
In the waiting room, four Ipads are on a far wall with kids’ games pre-programmed. A saltwater aquarium stands nearby. Walls in the back surrounding kid patients’ chairs are painted blue with friendly fish and sea life, and nine TV sets show a feature film. Sedation rooms are also available in the back for people who’d prefer to sleep through their procedures.
“It’s a lot more patient-friendly,” he said.
Brewer also boosted the technology for dentists and technicians to use. Cameras called iTero machines can take 3D digital photos of patients’ mouths, then immediately upload them to screens. All computers for receptionists, dentists and specialists are new.
“Everything is tech in here, from self-controlled computers to digital X-rays. Everything is brand new,” Meissner said.
Brewer now has four clinics in Billings and serves patients in a 250-mile radius. The practice was started by Dr. Kevin Brewer 31 years ago.