April 2008

The Perfect Fit

Author: Miranda Spencer

Dr. Daniel Lawless, DMD Links the Lowcountry

Perhaps Dr. Lawless can hold the military positively accountable for his realistic point of view towards life and dentistry. Or perhaps it was the degree in history and philosophy that provided him with the honest, no-fluff attitude towards his patients. It may even have been his youth with a church-going grandmother that taught him the differences between right and wrong. In any case, there’s something different about dentistry on Hilton Head Island, and the trail of satisfied smiles leads straight to Dr. Lawless.

As the new owner of Hilton Head Dental, Dr. Daniel P. Lawless, DMD has the Lowcountry talking. “I have the same philosophy as in the military,” Lawless said, “which is to treat people with respect and honesty.” You can sense this emanating air of respect at the first meeting, perhaps due to his dentistry experience while stationed at Fort Bragg and later in Iraq.

“The amount of dental work I did over in Fort Bragg was more than I could’ve imagined,” he explained. “It’s as though they crammed 12 years into four. It’s because we were working so much and the education was absolutely necessary.”

Eventually, Lawless’ education and status deployed him to Iraq for 12 months, where he performed every kind of dental procedure, including oral surgery. “We did dentures, fillings, everything—six days a week. When you’re over there, it’s like having to use MacGyver dentistry because they don’t have the regular tools,” he said.

Right place, right time
When he arrived back in America, a friend informed Lawless about a practice on Hilton Head Island. Growing up and attending college in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Lawless said he dreamed of living at the beach. “I came here and fell in love with the place. I never knew a place like Hilton Head existed.” So when Lawless moved here in 2006, he knew that he was going to give his new dental practice 100 percent. “When I landed here, it was such a completion of the puzzle,” he said, “at least that puzzle. Now I’m starting a new one.”

Having a background in history and philosophy, Lawless has plenty of his own principles on how to care for his patients. He believes in the importance of finding a dentist that you like and sticking with him. His biggest motivator? Finding out what the patient wants, needs and expects.

Every morning at 8:30 a.m., Dr. Lawless’ dental staff enters the doors of their meeting room to discuss the most important task of the day: their patients. For 30 minutes, each member is supplied with information on the patients, ranging from their fears of dentistry to what they need to have done that day.

“My staff and I have a very similar approach to things. We are all very well-informed about the patients here, and we are very proud of our quality of dentistry.” Lawless, his staff, and his colleagues practice what he calls “no-pressure dentistry.”

“My job is to inform people of what they have or what they need. If I see something that looks suspicious, I don’t jump in and say, ‘yea, you need a crown right now!’ I’ll watch it.”

This is where Lawless uses his better judgment and experience to provide his patients with the best quality of dentistry possible. “I know when I treat people that I’m doing the right thing. That’s the way I live. I sleep very well at night because I don’t have any guilt and I know I’m being consistent.”

“Every patient gives me a challenge,” he continued. “Not a challenge on how to sell them something, but how to exceed their expectations. I’m a perfectionist. I don’t want patients to be happy with it; I want them to be ecstatic so they know that we gave them the best care possible.”

And talk about a sense of humor. Since Lawless’ office has a “no pain for dentistry” policy, he’ll often tell his patients to run out of the room screaming. “And sometimes they’ll do it!” he said with a laugh. “Imagine a 70 year-old woman running out of the room going ‘ahhh!’, and then saying, ‘wow, that didn’t hurt at all.’”

Lawless encourages patients to bring their children in early to show them around and to make them feel more comfortable. A lot of times they’re not as scared as you might think, he explained.

“I’m a realist,” Lawless said. “I’m thankful for what I have, and to be able to achieve what I’ve always wanted to do. I’m content. I feel the patients who have left the practice from before are coming back because they’ve heard of us, and they know that we’re different.”

Special offerings

• Private rooms that include audio and visual aids
• Comprehensive dental care, using the latest technologies for endodontics, periodontics and oral surgery
• Nitrous oxide and computerized injections for patient anxiety
• 24-Hour emergency care
• Insurance processing
• Preventive dentistry cleaning and fluoride
• Tooth whitening, cosmetic bonding, and veneers

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