Creating a Brighter Future for Patients and Dentists
Every professional chooses their specialty, but for
Dr. Craig Spodak, it’s much more than a choice; it’s a calling. For him, every day is about testing himself, the limits of his imagination (or lack thereof) and the field of dentistry.
“Why be good when you can be great?
Why exist if you don’t evolve?”
Dr. Craig is a third-generation dentist and owner of Spodak Dental Group. “I set out with the goal to drive the national trend of offering all specialties under one roof, exactly like the Cleveland Clinic. If it works for the medical field, it only made sense to bring it to the dental field.”
He isn’t the first dentist in his family, but he is the first with this powerhouse mindset. His father, Dr. Myles Spodak, opened the Spodak Dental Group doors back in 1976 on West Atlantic Avenue, in the then sleepy town of Delray Beach, FL. Dr. Myles generously served his community and his patients, but when his son, Dr. Craig, joined the practice in 1998, he was determined to make a difference. Today, that difference is strongly felt within their community.
Dr. Craig had a different vision of how to run the family business and took over the practice in 2006. His dream was to change the way patients experience dental care and he has worked tirelessly to reinvent patients’ perceptions of just how great a dental appointment can be.
He saw the frustrations of his patients when he had to refer them out to specialists, or they didn’t have the time in their schedule to come back for multiple appointments to get a temporary and then a permanent crown. It only made sense to combine all general and specialty dentists, an on-site lab with a master ceramist, and the newest and best technology to better serve his patients. Not only did it allow for greater quality of care for the patients, but they were happier because they could enjoy all their dental services under one roof and, most often, receive complete treatment in one day.
“Same-day dentistry is disruptive technology. It’s similar to what Uber did to taxis. Only one person had to have an idea for an easier and simpler way to get from here to there, and develop a system that saves time and money, thus creating greater value. The same can be applied to dentistry. Patients shouldn’t have to wear a temporary crown for two weeks when they can get their permanent crown in one day.”
Spodak Dental Group’s patients can now turn their CEREC crown into a great experience versus just another dental appointment. The Group is now able to avoid patients complaining to their friends and family members about how annoying their temporary crown is or how often it falls out. Instead they’re raving about having only one visit, how they are able to watch their crown being milled, and how natural it looks and feels. Until now, most of their patients didn’t even know this value was available to them.
“The dentist who adds the most value wins.”
“All you need to focus on is how to enhance the patient experience and provide the most value, whether through offering evening hours, weekend hours, or same-day dentistry. It’s an archaic notion that you can still practice the same way you did five or even 20 years ago and still be successful,” Dr. Craig said.
“Success for me is taking care of people.It’s that simple.”
-Dr. Craig Spodak
This same principle guided him in the design of his 13,000 square foot, LEED Gold Certified, state-of-the-art, biophilic facility. Designed by world-renowned artist Michael Singer, the facility opened its doors December 2013 and enabled Dr. Craig and his team to continue to pave the way for transcending the patient experience.
The entire facility was built with the patient in mind and every corner of the office has a purpose. Six healing gardens surround the facility to comfort patients and offer an area of respite before, during and after their appointment. Floor-to-ceiling windows in every one of the 18 operatories and the main space allow for natural light to pour in, accounting for 85 percent of the lighting in the facility. Studies show that natural light has been proven to reduce patient pain and stress during recovery, so the goal was to have as much of a “healing” building as possible.
There are also no doors on the operatories and the doctors’ desks are in the main space, which fosters greater communication between not only patients and their dentist, but also between the team of 10 general and specialty dentists. There is no need for a patient to visit another office to get a second opinion when the doctors can discuss your case and agree on the best treatment plan right there in the consultation room with you.
Sustainability is also another main goal for Dr. Craig as he took great strides to only positively impact the environment. He installed two cisterns that collect 14,000 gallons of rain water that are used for supplemental irrigation for fruit trees, an herb and vegetable garden and tropical shade garden. He even built a lake under the parking lot, through the use of a Storm Tech system, that captures and infiltrates up to 209,000 gallons of rainwater back into our environment. This parking lot and system is one of the first of its kind in South Florida and will help model new standards and expectations for how water is managed for both quantity and quality in our region.
“My overall goal is to create a better community. If all small Delray businesses will incorporate some pieces of what we’re doing and what we’ve done, we can really have a large impact because the next city would follow suit, then the next in another state, and so on. I would love for people to copy what we’re doing. We could really transcend the current field of dentistry.”
Beyond their patients, Dr. Craig and the team spend a great deal of time investing in their community. The Spodak family has lived in Delray Beach since the opening of the company, and is deeply rooted in the success of the city. The nearly 50 doctors, clinical and administration team members all live by a set of core values where their aim is to change the world through the power of compassion. This includes volunteering for local community events, helping with the personal development of other team members, or helping to create the company’s first affiliated non-profit organization, The All-Star Smiles Foundation.
The Foundation began in true Spodak tradition: with a single, burning desire to help people. But it wasn’t until Dr. Craig met Marlins All-Star fielder Giancarlo Stanton in 2014 that the ball really gained momentum.
The partnership began when Stanton was treated at the dental office after suffering dental damage caused by an 88-mph fast ball to his face during a baseball game in September of 2014. He fell in love with the culture and team of the practice and decided to join forces with Dr. Craig to combat child tooth decay on the national level by providing free dental care to underprivileged children. Stanton believes that every child deserves to smile and wanted to help make that happen.
“I was one of those kids, and I know how it feels when you’re not proud of your smile,” said Stanton. “The Foundation’s mission is very important to me and we are now able to help children who otherwise couldn’t access this type of dental care, and that is what we’re here for.”
Tooth decay is largely preventable, but it remains one of the most common diseases of childhood, and is five times as common as asthma and seven times as common as hay fever, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC says 42 percent of children ages 2 to 11 have had cavities in baby teeth and 21 percent of those ages 6 to 11 have had cavities in permanent teeth.
The mission of the All-Star Smiles Foundation is to eradicate the disease of childhood tooth decay. The vision of the organization is to provide a safe and comfortable dental experience, at no cost, to underserved children, many of whom are receiving dental care for the first time in their lives. The All-Star Smiles Foundation will also provide dental care services to even more children in need throughout the U.S. through the elaborate use of affiliate partners, which is where other dentists are invited to join forces.
“We have since held two All-Star Smiles days where, in total, we provided more than $200,000 in free dental care to more than 400 children. Our third event will be held February 2017 so we can highlight National Children’s Dental Health Month. All dentists around the country are invited to reach out to their community members, find those children who need the most help, and participate. This idea may have started with me, but we, as dentists, will be able to really make an impact in all of our communities and turn the tables on childhood tooth decay.”
Even with such great vision and drive from Dr. Craig, Stanton and other local Delray Beach dentists, it will take a group of dentists to really help the Foundation succeed. Similar to Freedom Day USA, where dentists provide free dental care to veterans, military members and their families, the Foundation will host a dedicated All-Star Smiles Day each February. The Foundation hopes that all dentists will get involved, not only as a way to give back to their community members, but also as a way to create a halo effect for dentists nationwide.
“A truly established business is entrenched in the community because it’s a virtuous circle: patients, team, community,” Dr. Craig said. “A business has to think locally and globally, regardless of how small or large the business. The team must be pioneers of the positive growth and responsibility to the community and its members. The business cannot merely exist to make money. Without a doubt, it has to give back. This Foundation was the largest example of how we knew to give back.”
If you are interested in participating in the upcoming All-Star Smiles Day, please visit the website, www.allstarsmiles.org for more information.
“Success, for me, is taking care of people and building relationships. It’s that simple,” Dr. Craig said. “Charity has always been a passion of mine, but when I met Stanton, I realized that creating the Foundation immediately was a must. It was serendipitous to meet someone of his caliber, influence, and capital, so I felt that I had a responsibility to do it. Helping children who have never seen a dentist before is an indescribably rewarding feeling, and one that I invite all dentists to experience.”
This is progressive at its finest.