Dr Mitchell Innes offers added value

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Dr Mitchell Innes Bright Smiles Dentistry

Dr Mitchell Innes runs a dual prosthodontics and dental practice business, offering his clients comprehensive oral health care under the one roof. By Kerryn Ramsey

When Dr Mitchell Innes opened Bright Smiles Dentistry on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, he was halfway through gaining his prosthodontics qualifications at the University of Adelaide. Opening your first practice is always a stressful time but for Dr Innes, travelling between capital cities was an additional demand. On top of that his wife, Hayley, had just given birth to their first son. Dr Innes was in the practice infrequently and dealt with challenges in the early stages.

“I’d employed a dentist to work there and I was flying back once a month to keep an eye on things,” he recalls. “It soon became evident that the dentist was working at a level I found unacceptable. I had to take a couple of weeks’ leave from my studies to fix a significant amount of work he’d done over the previous four months.”

Two of a kind 

At this point back in 2013, Dr Innes needed a reliable dentist to run Bright Smiles Dentistry so he could complete his studies in Adelaide. He considers himself fortunate to have employed Dr Simon Campbell, a fresh graduate of Griffith University. His attitude towards dentistry aligned with that of Dr Innes and their connection was immediate.

“We soon managed to get the practice back on track and even though it took a couple of years, I was able to complete my studies,” says Dr Innes. “Simon is still working with me today.”

Now a qualified prosthodontist, Dr Innes expanded Bright Smiles Dentistry by adding Sunshine Coast Prosthodontics to the business in 2016. Offering full dental and prosthodontics services saw the business grow rapidly and in 2017, Dr Innes opened a third business, Bright Smiles Dentistry @ Currimundi.

“I believe our success is due to our ability to meet our patients’ needs utilising high-quality dentistry,” says Dr Innes. “Being a specialist prosthodontist adds to the complete care we provide. We fix all dental issues but also diagnose the root cause of the problems and give the patients full information about their conditions.”

Following this, it’s up to the patient how they move forward. They might want to address the underlying issue or not do anything at all. The patient makes their own decisions about their oral health care.

A prosthodontist has a better understanding of all dental skills and an ability to coordinate interdisciplinary treatment. What a general dentist may consider to be quite a significant case is usually in the everyday wheelhouse of a prosthodontist.

Dr Mitchell Innes, owner, Bright Smiles Dentistry 

“We don’t judge people,” says Dr Innes. “We use our skills to fully inform them of their problems and offer solutions. When our patients are ready to proceed, we have all the skills needed to address their issues.”

Gaining skills

Dr Innes’ desire to become a prosthodontist stems from his love of dentistry and his admirable work ethic. After graduating from the University of Queensland in 2007 with the highest mark on the final exam and the RACDS award, Dr Innes worked in a number of different practices as a general dentist. The job fulfilled and challenged him and he was constantly completing professional development courses. The decision to become a prosthodontist was an easy one.

“I really wanted to know how to do my job properly,” he recalls. “A prosthodontist has a better understanding of all dental skills and an ability to coordinate interdisciplinary treatment. What a general dentist may consider to be quite a significant case is usually in the everyday wheelhouse of a prosthodontist.”

Referral issues

According to Dr Innes, running a combined dental and prosthodontics clinic created a little unease among surrounding dental practices. Initially, the concern was that if a patient was referred for prosthodontics work, Dr Innes would retain the patient for future dental work. Of course, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

“It’s taken a little time but the number of referrers has built up significantly,” he says. “Over the past 12 months, 70-plus dentists referred patients to me for prosthodontics work.”

The workload and time demands of running three businesses at two locations with four dentists and 14 staff is huge. Dr Innes is assisted by his wife, Hayley, who is practice manager, patient coordinator, HR officer and overseer of the day-to-day running of the businesses. She’ll even don the scrubs and help out if needed.

“We work very long hours,” says Hayley. “I run all the front office and admin while Mitch is often in surgery. Fortunately, we have a great relationship, and we like being around each other, so it all works very well.”

Other endeavours

Dr Innes is also involved with research and lecturing. He has a doctorate in material sciences from the University of Adelaide and has worked with companies such as 3M. 

“I have an ongoing study on zirconia crowns and another study on dental implants,” he says. “I’ve made recommendations to several dental implant companies. I was also a keynote speaker at the ADA conference in the Northern Territory earlier this year.”

Dr Innes and Hayley also run their own professional development business, Dental CPD (dentalcpd.com.au) established in 2015. This business provides multi-day courses in everything from single implant crown restorations to surgical extraction and socket preservation to full arch implant and ceramic rehabilitation. Most courses are sold out well in advance due to word of mouth.

“We noticed the void in dental education in Australia and we wanted to fill it with hands-on patient, professional development,” says Dr Innes. “Our courses give dentists an opportunity to extend their scope without having to do a specialty program or go overseas.”

Good decisions

Despite his hectic schedule, Dr Innes remains as passionate about dentistry as when he was a new graduate.

“I remember a case when I was just starting out,” he says. “A citrus farmer on the Sunshine Coast had worn down her teeth due to all the citric acid in her diet. The dentist for whom I was working rebuilt her teeth and did a beautiful job. When she looked in the mirror, she broke down and cried. Seeing the profound impact he had on her life, I knew this was the career for me. Along with marrying Hayley, it was one of the best decisions I ever made.”  

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