Before I walked into Dr. Randy LaFrom’s office, pain would shoot through my tooth, exposed by a receding gum, if I dared smile in breezy weather. The dentist’s awesome laser fixed that. When I left, I could grin from ear to ear on the foggiest, windiest San Francisco day. The repairs took three minutes and didn’t hurt.

That’s the beauty of high-tech dentistry, and dental patients in metropolitan places like the Bay Area are lucky enough to have access to it. To stay competitive, dentists in Silicon Valley must shell out the $50,000 that some of these technologies can cost. Dr. Lafrom’s office is in Cupertino, California, tucked among the industrial parks of high-tech giants like Apple, Symantec and HP. The town is overrun by geeks who expect more than the traditional fill and drill when they visit the dentist. And like anyone, they’d like it to be painless.



But it takes more than just owning the fancy gadgets to be a dental contender in high-tech central. LaFrom is required to take 25 continuing education credits per year to keep his license, but he takes 200 every year to stay current, and he’s in six dentist study groups.



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