Harnessing Your Forces


Now we’ve talked about the trend toward group practice which will continue until a new dental economic equilibrium is achieved. How slowly or how quickly? To what degree? But the trends are already there. And for the younger folk reading this, you will either harness the forces in ways we’ve discussed or join an existing group. Such is the way of economics and of business.
Your very ability to harness those forces, if you choose to, will be your willingness to become a business owner in every sense of the term. Your dental practice will need to emulate the most successful principles of business in order to rise to the top. That means sound management, precise systems, training manuals down to the last detail, methods of oversight, future planning and analysis of current trends to make that planning a reality. It takes a willingness to work on the business, perhaps an existing model to duplicate, keeping and referring to sound statistics to provide the trends to tell you whether your strategies are working or not as well as to provide sound data to make plans to support an up statistic or correct a down statistic.
And yes, you will start by developing your own teams, reliable teams that you can count on to pull off a superior restorative result. Those teams are dedicated to superior dentistry, doing what’s best for the patient and as a subset of that, you will earn an excellent living. That in itself will differentiate you. Ethics first will ensure that differentiation. It is these teams that you will nurture now because you may be practicing with those teams for your entire career.
But does it stop there? No. For us, as periodontists, to really differentiate ourselves from the masses, we need to be able to conceptualize the full mouth solution.
The very businesses that we are competing with are those that provide dental implants as the only full mouth solution. It is that group of patients that we can serve better than any dental implant clinic could ever propose to. It is simply a matter of diagnosing and treatment planning. It is also a matter of having the surgical skills to do everything that the dental implant clinic can accomplish.
I recognize that there are others who feel differently from me. That’s okay. Their experiences are theirs, just as mine are mine. My experiences are real life experiences in an ever changing practice environment and with a practice that continues to grow, year after year.
Please do not misread me. As periodontists we  save teeth every single day. The public does not know that for the most part. What the dental implant patient market knows is that there have been countless proposed dental solutions that they were  given and have failed. They see dental implants as being the only solution because they were never treatment planned properly or never followed through with treatment or abused themselves so badly with sugar, drugs, etc, that their teeth finally gave up. Therefore you have to be comfortable doing full arch dental implant restorative solutions. In other words you need to be able to market to the same group that the dental implant clinics market to if you are going to create this type of practice. Your advantage is that you will diagnose, you will look at every option,  and if available, give the patient a choice of keeping teeth, extracting teeth, or a combination in the pursuit of comfort, function, and esthetics.
But let’s remember this. It is full treatment planning ability that will get you to leadership rather than being an adjunct. You may be a top regenerative surgeon,  but if that’s all you are thinking about, you are providing adjunctive care. You are helping the patient and helping the general dentist.  If that’s what you want, then declare that’s what you want, providing excellent adjunctive care.
But the independent periodontist carries it further. He or she is an excellent surgeon. He or she takes the myriad of periodontal treatment plans and applies the most appropriate periodontal treatment plan to the patient. And that’s great. But still, you are an adjunct unless full treatment planning, full responsibility for the patient is yours. You need that ability. You need to look at every patient as a whole mouth case, the whole occlusion, the whole restorative solution. Of course, you do not recommend dentistry that is not needed. That is a given. But you also know where an orthodontist is needed and who to use. Same goes for the prosthodontist or restorative dentist as well as the endodontist. But you can be (should be) the focal point,  the clearing house, the coordinator of treatment.
Now what’s interesting is that the independent periodontist who looks at the whole mouth will attract a much more needful patient. And as such, you’ll do more regenerative procedures, more periodontal restorative procedures with your restorative partners, and more dental implants. And yes, you’ll see a lot of chronic periodontitis as well.
That’s exactly what we do in our office. Do we do a lot of implants? Absolutely.  Do we do the root reshaping, the grafting, the endoscopy? Of course. But those patients were attracted to us not because we necessarily did those procedures. They were attracted to us because we provided full mouth solutions and have a record of accomplishment in that regard in our marketing materials.  How many patients seek us because we are perceived experts in dental implant therapy? A lot. How many of those patients are given options of saving their teeth? Most of them. And by attracting those patients, there are a number of them that keep their teeth. It is these patients that never would have had the opportunity to keep their teeth had they gone to a dental implant clinic.
What’s interesting is that by attracting this group of patients, a group of patients who have decided that they want to spend the time and money necessary to recover their smiles and chewing ability, you also attract the patients who need less work but are seeking expertise. It’s an amazing phenomenon. We gear ourselves to the highest level of treatment and attract patients who need a smaller amount of treatment and want the best person who can provide that treatment. Do we attract traditional perio? Yes. Patients wanting an alternative to the incessant use of expensive antibiotic powder with no results seek us. Others are for second opinions, different options that we offer,  etc
When you attract these patients as an upper level dentist, you will then be able to do all of the procedures that you do right now.
Patients see us for only 4 reasons.
  1. They want to smile.
  2. They want it to chew.
  3. They don’t want pain.
  4. They don’t want their mouths to stink.
That’s it! To the agree that you can fulfill and market to those entities is the degree to which you will be successful. To the degree that you can market to all 4 of those entities is the degree toward which you will remain independent of outside forces and/or the practice owner of a successful group practice.
Take the time now to look at these entities,even if you don’t do them yourself. If there are weak points among those for entities, decide how you will make them your strengths. Doing so will assure upper level quality control, upper level quality of service, and attracting the upper level patient who wants the expert to solve his or her dental problems.
And by the way, these patients are not necessarily the most well to do people in your community. They just put their mouths as a high priority item.
It is this model of care that we provide. It is this model of care that has brought us success. It is this model of care that brings patients to us first. It is this model of care that can bring the most needful patients to you, give them a great evaluation, and get them healthy again. Those patients are there right in your community as they are in ours. You can get them to you first and give them a predictable way of improving their lives through improved oral health.

Coming up next: Epilogue