Everything Dental Blog February 2019

In 1992 a co-worker showed me his brand-new cell phone. It was wired into his car just like the one in a James Bond ‘007’ movie. Interestingly, my friend was not an early adopter of technology and he wasn’t a gadget guy. His child (infant) was undergoing tests for surgery and he wanted to be available at any moment for his wife or for the surgeon’s call.

Back then, I thought a cell phone was an expensive luxury item that only the rich and famous could afford. As a commissioned sales person, I am solely responsible for phone, tolls, office supplies and entertainment, so owning a cell phone was not even a consideration for me.

Given what I know now, a cell phone would have easily paid for itself, regardless of the expensive monthly contract, roaming fees and minute rate. I would have seen more clients and would have been more responsive to them. It would have given me a competitive advantage and it would have led to more clients and even more business. Think of it this way. My competitors would return their messages in a few hours or within a 24-hour time frame. That was the norm in those days and it was perfectly acceptable. However, if I had invested in my business and acquired a cell phone my clients would have experienced a much higher degree of customer service and quicker response times. Think about it this way. Who would those offices had called if they needed something in a hurry or if they had an emergency?

For decades, dentists resisted acquiring Cavitron and Piezo devices for their hygienists because hand scaling was more effective? Eventually ultrasonic scaling gained popularity because it is faster and gentler for the patient and reduced occupational hand fatigue for the hygienist.

For decades, dentists resisted ultrasonic cleaning units because they claimed that hand scrubbing was more effective. Was it the legal exposure of a potential needle stick that made this standard of care? I think it’s a mixture of those factors compounded by the fact that doctors used to do their own hygiene in those days. Once general dentists started doing more and more of their own crown and bridge and referring less to the prosthodontist, hygienists became more popular.

For decades, dentists have passed along their old and tired equipment to their hygienist when they upgraded their equipment. Most new patients are introduced to the practice via a hygiene appointment so one could argue, that the hygiene room should be the nicest (best equipped) room in the facility. Today, we design and equip every dental operatory the same way when we build a DiNovo office. Doctors and hygienists must be able to utilize every room in the facility and they should be equipped with the armamentarium they’ll need to perform great clinical work.

For decades dentists have provided their hygienists with a low speed motor for doing prophies. Today, the hygienists handpiece must be autoclaved after each patient, so this practice is coming to an end. A hygienist must have enough handpieces to rotate between office sterilization cycles. Low speed motors and their attachments are too expensive and not as forgiving as a hygiene handpieces. Hygiene handpieces are generally more ergonomic, operate at a lower decibel, are more efficient and last longer after repeated sterilization cycles.

Since the beginning of time, doctors have resisted being business people because they are keenly focused on clinical outcomes and their patients’ health. Unfortunately, insurance participation, industry mandates, compliance issues, sky rocketing overhead, and technology integration has forced their hands. This trend will continue as group practice and other competitive disruptors become normalized. Today, dentists are seeking out business courses and are learning how to treatment plan and present treatment as a means, to a better end.

For decades dentists resisted digital radiography because it wasn’t as good as film. Did the dental community’s slow adoption reflect bad technology or was it the computerization of the office and the cost of technology integration that delayed the inevitable?

For decades dentists said CadCam restorations weren’t as good as the lab’s fabrications. While this was true in the early nineties, it is no longer the case and hasn’t been for over a decade. Most of the porcelain and ceramic restorations fabricated at the lab are done with CadCam today! Every dentist should attend an event or have a system demonstrated at their office. The advantages of CadCam (precision and esthetics) and Same Day Dentistry will differentiate your practice from the other local dental offices! The CadCam block offering (composite, Zirconia and porcelain) will please even the harshest of critics whether you are milling a crown, bridge or surgical guide. Dentists that decide to acquire a digital impression scanner without vetting the benefits of full CadCam are buying great technology for themselves. Dentists that engage in Same Day dentistry and incorporate CadCam dentistry into their mix are buying technology that benefits the consumer, enhances their clinical capability (work flow) and creates a new revenue stream.

The dental landscape has changed – and you must not ignore what you know and believe to be true. Delay and indecision will take its toll on your practice’s growth and profitability.

Ask yourself these questions and be mindful of your answers as you make purchases and business decisions going forward.

• Will there be more solo dental offices in five years from now?

• Will insurance participation amongst dentists decline in the future?

• Will a preventive business model become more popular in medicine and dentistry over the next ten years?

• Will more offices provide multi-specialty dentistry in the future?

• Are insurance companies going to offer higher reimbursement and a larger annual benefit next year and the year after?

• Will CadCam and Same Day Dentistry continue to be embraced by the millennials and their kids?

• Will there be more group practices and national dental chains in five years from now and in ten years from now?

• Will CBCT be standard of care for any office placing implants by 2025?

Dentistry is a great industry to work in. Dentists and their clinical teams help people stay healthy, improve their smiles and their lives [self-confidence]. There are few professions that can compete with that. I can go on about modern-day convenience and how technology has improved our way of life, but my goal is to show how we struggle with technology adoption. Change and technology have become normalized, but the adjustment, cost and integration of these modern- day marvels can be overwhelming and complicated. It is easier to make excuses or delay the inevitable than plan and execute.

Apr 9, 2015 – Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, is quoted as saying, “In the new world, it is not the big fish which eats the small fish, it’s the fast fish which eats the slow fish.”