Laser Dentistry Expert: Dr. Michael Colleran DDS

Located in San Luis Obispo, Dr. Colleran, is a nationally renowned dental author and lecturer and an expert on laser dentistry. He has spoken across the country on laser dentistry and had articles appear in several professional journals. He is also sought after by dental manufacturers as a consultant for product evaluation and research. Dr. Colleran is an instructor for the Institute for Advanced Laser Dentistry, which teaches LANAP and other laser dental procedures to dentists from across the globe.

Full Transcription:

Shaun Keating: Hi everybody. I’d like to welcome you to this week’s Dental Up podcast here at Keating Dental Lab in beautiful Irvine, California. Today we have the honor of talking with Dr. Michael Colleran from San Luis Obispo, California. Dr. Colleran. What’s up, baby?

Dr. Colleran: Not much. We got sunny skies. We got no fires anywhere too far near, so it’s kind of a safe spot hopefully for a few hours before somebody else torches something else up along the freeway, but we’re doing good up here.

Shaun Keating: That’s awesome. You’re in a beautiful area. I know you’re in between like Morro Bay and then up by Pebble Beach area, Monterey. Where exactly … Tell me a little bit about San Luis Obispo. Where the heck is that on the map?

Dr. Colleran: We are about halfway between LA and San Francisco, on the coast. We have Pismo Beach just south of us. We have Hearst Castle just north of us. Little bit beyond there, you got the Monterey area and Pebble Beach and all that that has. It’s a really nice place. We’re kind of halfway between two good spots, and it’s a nice place to hang out.

Shaun Keating: That’s awesome. It really is a beautiful area. I’d like to say thank you ahead of time. I know you work on our Aunt Pat a lot. She lives in Morro Bay, right down the road from you. She’s a handful, old Patricia, but she loves you, Dr. Colleran. She’s a little pissa.

Dr. Colleran: She’s a great lady. She’s a pistol. She still gets around. She’s got her way of doing things, but she’s a great lady.

Shaun Keating: That’s so cool, man. Thank you so much for that. I know you’re a big laser dude, and I know you’ve lectured.

Dr. Colleran: Oh yeah. We do the LANAP, the laser gum surgery.

Shaun Keating: That’s what I’m going to ask you about there because you’re a laser guy, and you lecture and stuff; so you can tell me about all that. I always like starting off talking a little bit about sports now. What do you guys have out there that … What do you like out there? Is it a basketball … You got a football team? What peaks your interest when it comes to sports out there?

Dr. Colleran: We have Cal Poly, and two years ago, they went to the dance. They got into the first round of the dance, got eliminated, but that was really exciting because that’s, I believe, the first time Cal Poly ever got into that.

Shaun Keating: No kidding.

Dr. Colleran: We have a, what do they call them, the California League San Luis Blues.

Shaun Keating: Is that a soccer?

Dr. Colleran: No. That’s baseball.

Shaun Keating: Oh baseball. Okay.

Dr. Colleran: We got that. We’ve also got Cal Poly’s baseball team where Ozzie Smith graduated from. We got a number of people in the big leagues from Cal Poly, so they’re always in the contention for the Division IIA World Series. That’s always exciting. Beyond that, we got surfing.

Shaun Keating: I know. With us here, we didn’t really have anything for a while when it came to football. We got the Rams back and kind of waiting for that. I’m a big football guy, but we also got these Lakers that have been horrible the last several years. They got this Lonzo Ball kid. You’ve seen him and his dad? His dad with the big mouth, and he’s just like-

Dr. Colleran: Yeah.

Shaun Keating: Geez. Poor son. His dad’s saying he’s better than Jordan and all this stuff, but the dude yesterday, he put up 36 points, got 11 rebounds I think, and a game assist. It’s just summer league against the other rookies, but he looks pretty good. He’s a passer, so we’re kind of excited a little bit about the Lakers getting back into prominence a little bit. You got Golden State up there by you, kinda. Closer to you than me. That’s for sure.

Dr. Colleran: Yeah, yeah. That was a little exciting. In fact, we get between the Dodgers, and the Giants, and the Lakers, and Golden State, we get, on the back of your soda cans, we’ll get advertisements for both. So nobody really knows who we really like here, but they’ll go ahead and advertise anything.

Shaun Keating: Yeah they are. It’s crazy how they do that. Then they got also that fight. You seen that with Connor McGregor and Mayweather. That will be entertaining I think. For 100 bucks, I mean, we just not have to go out to dinner one time or something. It’s just … It’s gonna be a circus, but I’d like to see that Irish boy kick the crap out of McGregor, but I don’t think it’s gonna … I mean McGregor to kick Mayweather’s butt, but you never know. One good swing it could knock him out, but, you know, Mayweather’s really good at dancing and dodging and everything else. So it’s kinda gonna be … Who knows how it’ll be, but it’ll be a good entertainment I think. You know, better than the last fight he had with Pacquiao. That was boring as heck, and what a waste of money cause it was just a horrible fight. Mayweather just ran around and just out-dodged him, but eh. Kind of crazy.

Dr. Colleran: Yeah. We got … I saw the nice suite that O’ Connor had on for the weigh in or whatever it was. That was very interesting.

Shaun Keating: Yeah. I didn’t see that. What was that? Was it just this like blue, sharp dress suit, or?

Dr. Colleran: No. It kind of was a black suit with some almost pin striping on the side, and the pin striping wasn’t actually pin striping. It spelled out some words.

Shaun Keating: Oh, you’re kidding. Some bad words I’m taking it probably?

Dr. Colleran: Yeah. It wasn’t really something I would wear, but that was … It was interesting to see it. And all the way down the suit in the pin stripe it spelled out the same two words.

Shaun Keating: Unbelievable. Probably like F you or something, or who knows?

Dr. Colleran: Yeah. Pretty much. Yeah. That’s it.

Shaun Keating: Well that’s … It’ll be entertaining, and then they got the real fight Canelo against that Golovkin guy. That’ll be a really good boxing match. That Golovkin, or whatever, I think he’s Russian or something. He’s like 38 and 0, and he’s the real deal. And Conelo is that orange haired Mexican dude. He’s a pretty hard hitter. That’ll be exciting. That’s like, I think, a couple weeks after the August 26th fight. That will be something to look forward to and to see a really good boxing match. I think that’ll be good.

Okay. Let’s get out of there. Let’s dental up now, baby. Dr. Colleran, tell me a little bit about … Tell me how you got into dentistry a little bit, maybe where you went to college and how long you’ve been practicing.

Dr. Colleran: I went to college actually here at Cal Poly, and that’s how I ended up back here at San Luis Obispo, is because we had actually moved away to Sacramento area for about five-six years and just weren’t enjoying it as much as we thought. And a couple opportunities came up down here. My parents moved here from LA when they retired, and it was like, well, let’s take a look. And we found a practice here. So i went to Cal Poly, went off to UOP in San Francisco. Did my four years in three there.

The main reason I got into dentistry was because of the hours that you have. You pretty much pick your hours. You don’t have a whole lot of emergencies. You don’t get run through the crazy residencies that the MDs go into. And I really wanted to get into medicine, but just didn’t know what was for me. And after I looked around for a while it was … Dentistry was the way I wanted to go.

Shaun Keating: That’s awesome. So tell me a little bit about how many years you’ve been practicing now. Not to age ya, but how long you been in this little field?

Dr. Colleran: It’s been 21 years. I’ve been in this practice here for 16 years, 15 years. Starting to see a lot of people with their kids that are now grown up and going off to college, and even some great-grandkids coming in, a lot of people retiring and rubbing it in every time they come in to tell me that they come in to tell me that, “Oh, is today Saturday? Oh, no. I can’t figure it out. What day is today?” Getting a lot of people that are retiring and enjoying life, and looking forward to that something not too far off.

Practice here, we do a fair amount of ortho, implant surgery and implant restoration. We do a lot of perio, infectious disease perio with the LANAP protocol, and lot of crowns, lot of bridge, some dentures. So we do kind of the full gamut.

Shaun Keating: You do. And you do kick ass, and we thank you for all that work, dude. I tell you, man. You’re a big Ultra guy, I know that. You do a lot of our Ultra. It’s our layered zirconia, and that’s just a great product. But dude, you really do across the board … And I know you’re a big laser dude, and I know you’ve lectured. And I’ve always see you with … What’s that Greg guy’s name? Is it Greg?

Dr. Colleran: Bob Greg.

Shaun Keating: Bob Greg. I always seen ya at the different conventions, and I’m like, “Hey, I know that … That’s Cletus from Dentaltown.” Cause you’re a big guy in Dentaltown, man, and that’s where I met you years and years ago. But I always seen you with Bob Greg and the … What company is that? Is that like just … And you were always lecturing and stuff like that. Tell me a little bit about your laser experience and stuff like that.

Dr. Colleran: That’s Millennium Dental Technologies, and they’re the ones that came up with the LANAP protocol. They have the MVP-7 laser, which is the PerioLase that is the thing that you use within the protocol. I’ve been teaching for them for I think it’s 10 years now. Been doing the protocol for I think 12. It’s been a really, really great service for my patients. The reason why I got into this part of the lasers was because the patients would come in. They got some six, sevens, pocketing, and we couldn’t treat them. Did everything that we could. Referred them out to the periodontist. The periodontist would yank the tooth and put in an implant.

Shaun Keating: Oh, geeze.

Dr. Colleran: And well, “I could do that. What about surgery? What about this?”

“Well, surgery doesn’t work.”

And there were these guys down in southern California that were saying, “No. We can save those teeth.” And I had done some lasers with perio in the early days of lasers back in, I think it was ’05, ’06 and didn’t really have a whole lot of success with it. So I kind of argued with them a little bit on Dentaltown. Back in the old west days, when it was a big shoot ’em up area, but we got connected and saw what some other people were doing with the laser and was amazed. And thought well, this is what I want to do with my patients. I want to help them out. I want to get them back to health. I want to grow the bone back, and it’s been a long, great success for a lot of people.

Shaun Keating: That really is. Those lasers have come a long way, too. I’ve had Alan Miller in here recently, and he has his little own Picasso lite that … It’s kind of blown a lot of those other companies out of the water, especially like a BioLase. Those things were $50-60 grand back in the day and more.

Dr. Colleran: Wow.

Shaun Keating: And now I think you can get them for two to three grand. Yeah, it’s just … And what a great system he has going there.

But what about to, you do any frenectomies with those? Does that hurt? I was thinking about getting that. In my smile I get a little crooked smile. I can’t pull that lip up as my nose and everything gets fatter. But how’s the frenectomy? How’s that work? Are they pretty easy to do? Does it hurt, healing wise, or? What’s the pros and cons of that?

Dr. Colleran: The laser actually cauterizes as it cuts. So you tend to have a lot less pain, a lot less trauma. It heals up a little bit slower because it is a burn rather than a cut, but if you want to do that and help your smile, and help it go up on the one side, it’s probably easier than losing the weight.

Shaun Keating: Exactly. I remember way back in the day Don Ho, we meet his implants and his teeth, and he couldn’t pull back his lip. And so we had to make his teeth like 18 millimeters long cause he didn’t want to be able to pull back that lip too much, so he could show his teeth. It was so bad. But yeah, 10 millimeter natural teeth, usually 10 and a half or whatever, and these were like 18 millimeters, man, cause he just wanted to just show those teeth singing “Tiny Bubbles.” That’s kind of nuts.

But that’s cool, man. So what about with you digital systems wise? I know back in the day you had impression taking system, and that didn’t work out. Tell me what you’re looking at, if you’re looking at anything for impression taking. Tell me a little bit about your digital experience.

Dr. Colleran: Right now, we were with 3M, and 3M had their product. It was kind of their first big equipment item, and they didn’t really know how to market it because they didn’t really have the personnel in place and everything going on like everybody else. So they kind of fumbled it a little bit, and got it going, but it wasn’t the final technology that they wanted. They improved it a lot, and unfortunately the early users kind of got left behind. So, I had that for about four years that I used it. It was a great system. You had to use powder with it, but it really did a good job, got your margins. You were able to mark them if you wanted to. There were a lot of really good things about it, but they decided to stop supporting it and stop taking impressions from you about two and a half years ago, and so right now I have a nice piece of furniture that’s got a big video screen on it.

Shaun Keating: Wow. That sucks.

Dr. Colleran: Yeah, but they’ve got a really good product now. The, oh what’s the name of the new one-

Shaun Keating: The True Def?

Dr. Colleran: The True Def. Yeah, that one’s looking real nice. It’s real small, portable. I’ve been looking at the Trios. The Trios looks very nice. They’ve got a lot of adaptability on the lab end with that. The other one that I’ve been looking at is the one from the Invisalign people that they purchase the, and I’m drawing a blank on it. But anyway, it’s the one they’re promoting as the … You can submit cases directly from their interface and you can have them back within 24 hours, which is a really nice feature. I’m looking around. There’s always [inaudible 00:15:09] out there, but there’s a lot of people that are kind of turned away from that now. They’ve got a new marketing division. Things have opened up to other vendors, so they’re kind of feeling the competition I think.

Shaun Keating: Oh I bet. Now they’re like Dentsply, Sirona or something, or not Sirona. Who bought Sirona? [inaudible 00:15:30] or something? Or who knows? They got bought out by multi-billion dollar company-

Dr. Colleran: Everybody owns everybody.

Shaun Keating: It’s nuts. It’s just crazy. You’d be surprised on how many of those companies are calling my ass. They wanna buy my labs. Like, “Dude, are you kidding me?” Oh, man. We don’t wanna work for the man no more. I did that for like 17 years, and there’s nothing better than being able to be your own boss, as you know, and all the dentists know. Being your own boss … Well you’re judge and jury and everything. It’s kind of a neat thing.

Dr. Colleran: Exactly.

Shaun Keating: I don’t ever want to work for anybody ever again. That’s for darn sure. It’s a trip though with the systems. We have the 3M one here, the Trios I think it is, or True Def. It’s working really good. We actually have a little seminar tomorrow. Dr. Ringer … We got about 15 doctors coming in. We’re gonna do a live digital impression. We’re gonna send it off, and it’s a trip because the three shape one, I forgot their name, I think it’s Trios or something, three shape you get it immediately. But this way has to go to 3M, it takes about a half an hour or so to get it back.

And then I’m gonna do our wet mill from Ivoclar, where I can do it instantly, and then instead of having to center for eight hours we can just crystallize it much quicker. I think it’s like 20-30 minutes or something. So we’re gonna do a live case impression, scan it, and then go to the mill, mill it out, and then seed it for everybody. But it’s pretty neat and easy once you get the technique down and stuff like that, but we’re excited about that. If you wanted to come on down, get in that car, we’d like to take care of your course fee and come on in and watch it if you’d want, but you probably … You do so much stuff, man. You don’t need to see this.

Dr. Colleran: Well it’d be worth it just for the visit with you guys. It’s always good to come down and see the guys in the lab and hang out and just see what you’re doing … All the technology that you’ve got there, and all the new things you’re doing, scanning all the dyes in and everything is CAD/CAM. It’s exciting to see that technology come over and helping us out after all these years of spinning the old gold down-

Shaun Keating: In the well in the five-

Dr. Colleran: Yeah, exactly-

Shaun Keating: It’s just like old school, and we are old school. But you remember coming to the lab for years, and it was that way not too many years ago. Now you come cause you like to come out every year at least with your family for Disneyland. I know you love Disneyland. You go to Disneyland more than I do, and I have lived here all my life. You got a real passion for that Disneyland, don’t ya?

Dr. Colleran: Well, I grew up in Burbank just down from the studios, so I had friends whose fathers worked for the studios, and so it was kind of a way of life for us. And then moving away, and with little kids you always had Disney movies playing. And well, there’s this Disneyland place, and so when they were fairly young we started making the trek and bought yearly passes and just had a great time with it. So it’s a really good family activity and having you guys down there to visit is always a nice thing, and really enjoy that.

Shaun Keating: I love it. If you ever, I always tell the guys, “Come on by the lab, and we’ll give you a little letter that you did a great seminar for us, and make sure you put that with your tax man so you can write that whole thing off cause you gave a lecture at Keating Dental Lab.” We appreciate your lecture every year and coming out here Dr. Colleran. But that’s pretty cool.

So tell me what about in your practice, what do you like doing mostly? Like onesie, twosie, singles? I mean we’ve done everything with you, but what do you prefer? Do you do your endo, do you prefer that out? What do you like, and what don’t ya like?

Dr. Colleran: Actually I do, with my endo, I think I do about two or three cases a year. Everything else I send out. It’s gotta be straight, and I gotta see the whole thing all the way down to the tip, and that’s the only ones I’ll do. I think I’ve done my quota for the year, so I’m finished with this year. I don’t have to worry about any more.

We do a fair amount of oral surgery. When we’re removing the teeth, we place either a socket graft or we go in and place an implant immediately if you don’t have the infection in there, so there’s that. We’ve got a lot of stayplates that we do for people in the interim when we’re trying to keep ’em smiling out in public.

There’s a lot of stuff that is changing in dentistry. We’ve got new materials, new technology. And it’s difficult keeping up, but it’s also fun keeping up because you get so many new things that can help ya and just make things better for both the patient and yourself.

Shaun Keating: That’s great, dude. That really is, man, and it’s just something that … I love your … The first time we got together I think, or I think we might have been doing a little bit of work, but it was way back, and I remember it was this one dude that you had at your practice, and he was in a wheelchair or something. I think he had like GERD, whatever that means. It was kind of acid reflux or something, but the poor dude, all his uppers and lowers … And I remember you kind of put it out there, and we did that case for you. And I think we did the upper and lower, and it was just an amazing transformation for that guy.

I think after that big [inaudible 00:21:31], I think we donated our time, you donated it because it was a guy who was down on his luck, and you were just doing something good. And so we did that case, but what an amazing before and after. And the guy, I think he came by the lab and everything. We met him and his wife, and what a difference. And that’s what really gets my heart and my … And my, when I see these patients because we don’t see patients a lot unless they’re in [inaudible 00:21:56]. But when we start seeing pictures of our finals, and see patients, and when doctors are calling us, “Shawn, this guy’s crying in the chair. This lady’s crying.” And I see that, but that guy was really … really touched our hearts here. That was just amazing what transformation, but what was that case about? Tell me a little bit about that if you could real quick.

Dr. Colleran: He was a longtime patient. When he was, I think, 10-11 years old, he was climbing up a tree in a park not too far from here. His father was actually in the dental chair. And the front desk got a chair, and they said, “You need to hurry down to the hospital. Your son’s fallen from a tree.” And he was paralyzed pretty much from the waist down at that point, but he maintained a great attitude. He was always smiling, and that was one of the things as we were seeing him, things were wearing out. As we got educated on it, we found out that he did have GERD, which is Gastroesophageal reflux disease, and he was basically etching away all of his teeth very, very slowly. And they were wearing out, and he was losing vertical dimension.

I had made a post on Dentaltown … And kind of asking a little bit about what we should do because there was a little problem with the anteriors being so short. You had popped in there and said, “You know what, this sounds really interesting. You’ve got a guy there in a wheelchair, and we’re gonna max out his insurance, but we need to do something.” We spent a full afternoon in August prepping away. I can remember the A/C was not keeping up with the heat that day, and I had sweat dripping down my face. He was getting hot in there. We got out some fans trying to stay cool, but we got finished with it. We got the temporaries that you guys had made in there, and he was beaming when he left. He was just so happy that he had teeth. And he was always smiling, and that was part of his attitude was that no matter what he was always smiling. We got the permanents in there, and he was ecstatic.

Unfortunately it was probably maybe seven, eight years ago he actually had a heart attack and passed away. I went to the funeral, and one of the things that … They had an open mic, and everybody that went up said, “You knew that Brian was around because you could feel his smile. You didn’t have to see it. You could feel it.”

Shaun Keating: No kidding.

Dr. Colleran: He was one of those guys that the community lost a lot when we lost him, but having him around just made us all a lot better.

Shaun Keating: That is so cool, dude. I didn’t know that, man. Well that was … Yeah, we learned from that. It was a great case, but hearts out to his family for sure.

Well before we wrap this up, we could … I got a lot of young dentists and stuff … Any advice you could give them out there for education? Like you’re sinking implants, you’re doing this, it’s a lot of stuff in the trenches I know where you get your experience. But what kind of advice could you offer? Is there any management courses or CE courses? And what do you think a person should try to get into, and what kind education would think benefits some of the newer guys starting off or even some guys that want to get back into some educational areas? What do you got there?

Dr. Colleran: Well, Spear right now has a really good program. Everything that they teach can make you better, and no matter what level you’re at, you’re gonna take away something really good from it because they go into the smaller, simpler parts of it, and they go into the more complex parts of it. So there’s always something you can take away from their courses, so really good courses there. The AACD is always something that can make you better at what you do. There’s always little tricks and techniques that people are coming up with, and they share them at the AACD. So that’s always a good place to go for some good CE on just general dentistry, or if you want to go into full aesthetic. There’s a number of courses out there. You’ve got your Las Vegas Institute, which teaches it, but there’s some smaller ones that have come around. And they do a really good job too. Those are good ones.

For, I think, kind of the next thing in dentistry and where everything is leaning, I would say I probably got into some sleep dentistry about 10 years ago. Now it seems like it’s just taken off. Everybody’s doing it. There’s courses all over the place. So sleep dentistry would be [inaudible 00:27:11], your obstructive apnea, appliance therapy, that’s another one that’s coming up that’s gonna be big.

And always people like to keep teeth, and when they come out, they like to get them replaced with something that’s really nice. So if you go into any of your implant courses, all that training is gonna make you better. It’s gonna give you a toolbox that’s full of tools that you can do all kinds of things with. You’ve got your mini implants. You’ve got your orthodontic TADs that you can use for some things. I’ve got a case that I’m gonna be doing not too far off where I’m gonna be moving a guy’s upper teeth forward, so I can get them out of the way of the lowers, and just get ’em restored. So there’s a lot of things that the implants, you can get really, really creative with them, and lots of good education there.

Shaun Keating: That’s perfect dude. Now what about … Are you lecturing still or publications? You still … Tell me a little more about that.

Dr. Colleran: Yeah. Every once in a while I’ll go off and do a lecture somewhere, or I’ll even just work in the booth for the Millennium people. There was something that I was gonna do in Portland not too long ago. I’m always teaching down there in Cerritos.

Shaun Keating: Oh, okay. That’s just down the road from us. Maybe we could do something here if you want to use our facility. I mean, we love to do monthly courses here. Whenever you’ve got an open date, give me two or three months to kind of market a little bit to get some dentists in here, but we’d love to have you lecture here on anything when it comes out, especially with the laser technology and stuff. It’d be great. I’m sure I could fill the house for ya.

Dr. Colleran: Okay.

Shaun Keating: That’d be awesome.

Dr. Colleran: Yeah, that would be fun. That would be fun, yeah. Definitely.

Shaun Keating: Well, Dr. Colleran, I know you’re busy. I see your staff in the back saying, “You gotta get back out there, man.” You’re on my lunch, and I know you’ve got some cases going right now. But Dr. Colleran, I want to thank you for all the work. How’s our work doing? We do a good job for ya or what?

Dr. Colleran: You’re doing great. It’s always great to put something in and feel those margins just as slick as can be. So it’s always great putting those crowns in and knowing that I don’t have to worry about a lot of stuff with them.

Shaun Keating: Aw, man. Thank you so much. We really appreciate it. If there’s anything I can ever do let me know, and let me know when you want to go to Disneyland again. We’ll get you guys out there, and thank you so much, Dr. Colleran, for taking your time, and we’ll talk to ya real soon.

Dr. Colleran: Alright. Very good. Thanks a lot. Thanks for having me.

Shaun Keating: You got it, man. I wanna thank everybody for listening to this week’s Dental Up podcast. If you can, go over to iTunes and subscribe to us and our Dental Up podcast, leave a review if you could. And again, we’ll see ya next week. Thanks again.

Dr. Colleran: Alright.

Shaun Keating: Later, man.

Dr. Colleran: We’ll talk to ya soon.

Shaun Keating: Have a great day.

Dr. Colleran: Alright, you too. Bye.

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