Dear Fellow Periodontist,

Ten years ago, I made a decision that few in our profession would even consider at that time or even now.  In fact, many that I talked to told me that I’m crazy, that I’m jeopardizing my future, that there is no way that it would work.  What was that decision?  To begin to market my services directly to the public.

It’s ten years later. I’m experiencing tremendous growth year after year, doing more implants and more periodontal therapy.

But it is now not 2004. It is 2014. Are you experiencing steady growth year after year?  Do you know what the future of your practice will be?  Well, I interviewed some of the top members of our profession, and they all told me the same thing. They don’t know and can’t control the future of their practices.  That is not a good place to be when you have invested all that you have in your education and your practice.

Periodontal practices are suffering from erosion, not root erosion but practice erosion. We have been attacked from without.  It began with the marketing of “soft tissue management.”   Of course, it was conceived by a toothbrush company to slickly hide the sale of its toothbrush under the cover of a root planing code.  Then add on the pocket stuffer, the tray, the powder of the year, and perio was trivialized. Worse than that, perio became a profit center for the general dental practice and particularly the corporate practice, where antibiotic powder injected into shallow pockets became the ultimate hygiene profit center.

Yes. Periodontology has been trivialized and decimated by treatment services that don’t treat anything. Patients are suffering as result. As importantly, we were trained to be the diagnosticians, the specialists that can be depended upon to provide sound biological thinking and treatment planning.  Of course, that can’t occur if the patient isn’t referred to the periodontist.  So let me ask you a question, Are you getting good comprehensive care patients being referred in droves from the general dentist?

Well, we should. The largest segment of our population, the baby boomers, are now of age to need complex dental services as well as periodontal treatment.  So our practices should be in highest demand right now. But for many, that’s not occurring. The expectation of the patient is that the patient should be referred to a periodontist by the gate keeper, the general dentist.  But for many general practices, that gate is closed.

We are the diagnosticians. We do complex treatment planning.  It began during those case conferences that we went to week after week in residency. How do you feel right now about your opportunity to provide the help that you were trained for?

The fact is that we can do what we were trained for. Patients who have complex needs are looking for help. They just don’t know where to go for that help.  We can change that, periodontist by periodontist, practice by practice. How do I know? Because I have done it.  And you can do it too.  You can open up the market and bring patients directly to you.

So here’s a secret. You can market without changing the referral relationships that you already have. In fact, you can strengthen them. 

When I started marketing ten years ago, I wanted to bump up the implant side of my practice, so I marketed to the patient who almost never sees the dentist on a regular basis, the denture patient.  And sure enough, as a result of my marketing, I saw denture patients, mostly for denture stabilization through implants. I did the implants and referred the patient to the general dentist or prosthodontist for the denture part of the work. Yes, I was the referral source.  How do you think that the dentist reacted to that?  But wait, it gets even better.

What I was surprised to see was a patient that I never even marketed to, the patient that I never even knew existed in the quantity that I ended up seeing. Who was that patient?  It was the patient who had given up on dentistry.  Yes, the patient who had given up. The story was pretty much the same. The person had a crown done, then needed a root canal, then the tooth broke, and it needed to be extracted.  It happened again and again.  Or it was a patient who had treatment done only to lose teeth to periodontitis.  Many of those patients had not seen a dentist in 5, 10, 15 years or even longer. These were patients who needed help, a lot of help.  I was seeing people who needed full mouth reconstructions in droves.  So again, it was the same solution. I would treatment plan with the restorative dentist, do the part that we do, the perio and implants, and refer the patient for final restorative.  How do you think that the patient felt with good diagnosis and predictable care?  How do you think the dentist felt that I referred the patient to?

After marketing directly to the public for ten years, after training and developing staff who can handle big cases, I want to share those secrets with you.

So here are the solutions that my office manager, Danyel, and I have produced for you.

  1. We’ve written a book, The Perio Dilemma, How to Thrive Now. The book is packed full of material including marketing by each venue, closing cases, staff relations with patients, how the doctor can get in the way of treatment acceptance and how to correct that, and much, much more. It is the exact actions that we have taken by newspaper, internet, Google Adwords, television, implant lecture, video, and other media to get the message out and get patients in.
  2. We have started a new organization, the American Association of Independent Periodontists, the AAIP. Our goal is to recreate the periodontal practice to again become one of leadership, authority, and expertise.  We are doing that through a series of 25 webinars and teleseminars that you can access in your own home roughly every other week.

We have made lots of mistakes. We don’t want you to make the same mistakes, so the methods that we are teaching are the precise methods that have been successful for us.  The webinars and teleseminars will train you to market as well as train your staff to work with and gain treatment acceptance.  There is a lot more both to the book and to the seminars.

I hope that you can join us for a live seminar where I will detail what the A.A.I.P. can do for you. It will be held in conjunction with the AAP meeting in San Francisco, and will be held at the Parc 55 Wyndham on Saturday, September 20 at 5:30 PM.  Just click here for all of the details.

If you can’t be at the seminar, please contact me at with any questions you might have.

You can recreate your practice just as I have.  Become a member of the AAIP, and you’ll see how.

All the best,

Lee Sheldon