2020: What Better Year to Start Seeing Your Dental Health Clearly

If you want great dental care, ask your dentist for it.

The reality is that practicing dentists must wear many caps. They often manage a business. They often own the business. They run the HR department, managing personnel employment and resolving conflicts. They are accountants and ordering/shipping managers. They communicate with labs and specialists to ensure optimal results for treatment of their patients. They consult with doctors to manage general health concerns of their patients that affect the treatment they receive.

There may be many more caps they wear during a typical day. In assuming these roles, they also have to remember that they offer a service that affects the health of those they treat. This is different than the sales associate at Nordstrom trying to convince you how great you look in a particular suit. Or the dreaded car salesman that asked my grandfather several times, "Well, how much money do you have?" Dentists have to be salesman--whether we want to be or not. Our "industry" is made up of individual clinics that have bills to pay. Taxes due each month. Payroll to meet. Rent. Utilities. Ultimately, we have to do dentistry to pay our bills or we shut the doors.

I've been fortunate to have experience in high volume practices that depend on fast procedures done in a large quantity on a large number of patients each day. Low cost did equal a compromise in value. We had to work fast and quality was the first casualty in many cases. We did largely good work, but attention to details was not calculated in our algorithm for efficiency. Thus, I've been duly fortunate to have spent many weeks studying with the world renowned Pankey Institute in Key Biscayne, Florida.

To be terse, The Pankey Institute has guided me to more clearly see my patient's dental health. I can better diagnose those conditions that are so often overlooked in the high volume practices in which I did not thrive. But, more importantly, it showed me that people and relationships in a health service industry, are perhaps the most important aspect of what I do. I can't help people when all I see are teeth. I have to see people first.

That is quite an easy sentiment to express, it's quite another to have the way I practice affected by it. It moves me from sales to service. Sales can be a muddled and disingenuous place to find one's self. But service seldom grows tiring. And, for me, it is a place I always see clearly. I am inclined to spend my time thoroughly diagnosing and properly treating disease. "Big ticket" dentistry does not determine treatment sequencing. Everything is planned to achieve the optimal in functional oral health.

And, most of all, patients are shown and understand their oral health by becoming part of the journey.

What we do is still a business and ultimately work must be done. But when I focus on the people and treat them with highest level of care, skill, and judgment at my disposal, relationships thrive and the business survives.

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