By: Dr. Jay Son
FAQ to “Why would We or Should We”. Dentistry is known to have two big categories to properly train oneself and to achieve the professional success; Business and Clinical skills. However, it is very hard to separate the two concepts in running the dental business, either as an owner or as an associate dentist. This article is not to provide the dentists with business strategies, but rather it is to give a brief introduction and yet to give oneself to thoroughly re-evaluate our skill levels and techniques to provide better chance to succeed in our profession.
Given the patient trends, where they have a much higher tendency to shop around to find the “good dentist” for themselves and their family/relatives, patients’ review of you as their dentist, either in the internet or through mouth to mouth, would be the key to lead us one step closer to the success. Without a doubt, it would be always preferable to be viewed as a strong clinician from patients rather than financially oriented businessmen.
How can we increase our chance of success to meet both goals, finance and our pride as a doctor? The more treatment options one can provide for the patient, the better marketing goals one can achieve. It would be more beneficial if one can provide the dental treatment options patients seek the most today for better function and comfort. Contrary to dentistry in the past, the emergence of the dental implants have become very popular today, especially when it comes to restoring the edentulous space in the mouth. Despite the popularity of the dental implants today, however, the Statistics presented by Journal of Canadian Dental Association shows that Only 7.8% (21/270) of the dentists reported placing single unit implants; Of the remainder, 23.7% (64/270) reported referring patients to either a periodontist or an oral surgeon, whereas 34.8% (94/270) reported referring patients specifically to a periodontist and 26.3% (71/270) specifically to an oral surgeon;7.4% (20/270) reported referring patients to “other” practitioners.
Knowing the patient and GPs trends today, it would be wiser to consider implant dentistry as your “practice builder”. Implant dentistry as an extra option in your clinic or career would be a more futuristic approach in order to differentiate your clinic and to get one step closer to our GPs goals. Most of the GPs know how to restore the dental implant. Keeping in mind that the surgical theme and the guideline of the implant dentistry today is “restoration driven surgical discipline”, it would be actually easier for GPs to understand the better position of the dental implants in patient’s mouth. In fact, patient’s treatment acceptance is higher and the patient feels more comfortable if you are their family dentist since they already have known you for a while. It is not to say that all the dental implant surgeries should be done by GPs but rather it would be a good idea to have time to re-evaluate oneself today before referring out all the simple surgical cases to the specialist.
Prior to self-assessment and deciding whether to immerse oneself in the surgical field, it is wiser to analyze the cost-benefits or pros/cons. It is a known fact that specialists generate far more production/hour than GPs do. Specifically, oral surgeries, in general, tend to have fewer overheads compared to other specialties. Surgical training in implant dentistry does involve extra time and financial investment; however, with proper training leading to better treatment planning and case selection, the benefits of GP surgically placing dental implants would most certainly outweigh the costs.For example, most of the general dentists would not mind doing a simple extraction without referrals but when it comes to wisdom teeth extraction, many GPs refer out the complicated cases because they understand the risks associated with those particular cases. Placing dental implants works the same way since you need to be able to see the cases with the higher risks compared to very simple cases. Another example would be doing a complicated molar endodontic treatment compared to single canal RCT treatment that can be done in less than an hour. The complexity of the simple dental implant procedure would be very much analogous to screwing a screw into a hard wooden board. When you place the post in the RCT tooth, it is generally not easy to place in an ideal position in the RCT tooth, but most of the GP place the post; just like the working PA for the post placement, implant works the same. In fact, there is more room to correct in the simple and complex implant placement. The differences are that you have to understand the Anatomy, human physiology, surgical techniques, and products available.
With increased skill level and a better understanding of the surgical discipline, it would lead to a “selective” referrals of your patient to the right specialists. Whether you do the surgeries yourself or not, the patient would appreciate you more as their family dentist since they have more options to choose. Considering the GP as a “quarterback”, it is advisable for us to understand the surgical principles of the dental implants and be able to explain thoroughly to patients of the risks involved, treatment and healing process. In addition, by understanding and training a few of the surgical discipline of the implant dentistry, there are many other treatment options you can provide to your patients in addition to placing dental implants; socket grafting, atraumatic extraction, soft tissue augmentation, PRF (Platelet Rich Factor), and even GBR (Guided Bone Regeneration).
What do we all strive to achieve when we go to the dental clinic as business men or when it comes to a quarterly/semi-annual review of your dental practice? Production per patient would automatically increase with the increased treatment plan options. Most of the dental insurance also covers those treatment options as well including extraction, soft tissue grafting, and the implant crown restorations, possibly dental implants in near future. Initial overhead can be somewhat burdensome for sure in the beginning including purchasing the CBCT and surgical equipment; however, if you look closer of the cost/benefit ratio, one might be very surprised. Basic surgical hand instruments and the drill usually ranges between $4000~5000; implant fees usually varies between $2500 ~ 4000 per implant, meaning you can easily regain your initial investment/capital back by placing a few implants. In addition, you can always refer out for the CBCT scan in nearby specialist’s offices. Lastly, one might consider the time and financial investment are too expensive and time-consuming. In order to continue our license as a dental practitioner, one needs a certain number of continuing education credit to renew the dental license. It would be a better way to invest your continuing education time and finance into a course that is potentially much more beneficial and productive for our GPs.
Hopefully, GPs can excel ourselves thereby fulfilling both clinical and business goals to better define the success in our dental career.
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