There is no question now that the recession has hit our economy, and has hit it hard. Many dentists are reporting a slowdown in their schedules with patients putting off treatment longer; cancellations are up. Note that I said many dentists are, but not all dentists are reporting this. Some dentists are actually reporting that their numbers are up and their practices are increasing.
So why are some dentists doing better in the recession, some dentists doing the same as before, and some dentists worse and even much worse? As I meet hundreds of dentists every single week wherever I lecture, the answer always comes down to two things—attitude and reorganization.
First, your attitude can make all the difference in the world. Yes, we all know that the recession has caused huge job losses and an incredible lack of consumer confidence. If you and your dental office are going to roll up into a ball out of fear, and patients can see the fear in your eyes, I can guarantee you that they won’t go ahead with treatment and you subconsciously will steer them away from doing any dentistry at all. There is still a lot of dentistry being done out there and the question is, will it happen in your office or is it going to happen somewhere else. There is no doubt that there are not as many big cases being done, but there is also no doubt that some patients are going ahead with significant dentistry—even during these challenging economic times. The dental industry and your office are not simply going to disappear.
What every other business and industry is doing now is reorganizing and shifting the way they do business. This is the key to survival and even to thrive. The sure way to fail is to do nothing—or worse, keep thinking that the way I have always done things is the way I will be doing the same in the future.
It is time to reorganize your professional career as a dentist. When times were good, dentists used the excuse that they were too busy in their offices to go learn new skills through continuing education. When times are bad, dentists are worried that whatever new skills they acquire, patients may not want to pay for them. Stop making excuses for yourself and get out there and get trained and retrained in new areas of dentistry that you have not been involved with before. Hands down, the most successful dentists we see are the ones who have invested in themselves and their teams with quality continuing education to learn new skills.
What every other business and industry is doing now is reorganizing and shifting the way they do business.
Here are some suggestions, especially in a down economy, of procedures that are big winners for patients and for your practice:
Endodontics – There are so many quality endodontic courses out there that I would not know where to begin. In terms of endodontic systems, the Twisted File system by Sybron Endo couldn’t be easier, and was designed for the general dentist. If you haven’t seen Twisted Files yet, you need to learn about them and how they can boost the speed of your endodontic procedures.
Implants – Learn to love the edentulous and denture patient again and learn about narrow diameter implants, which are affordable and easily accepted by patients. The system I use in my own practice is Atlas Narrow Diameter Implants by Dentatus. Take one of their excellent courses and, in a few hours, you will be well versed in placing these implants. Dentatus has developed an extremely easy system for general dentists, which consists of only two surgical burs. The key to their system is their Tuf-Link silicon liner, which retains the denture incredibly well. There are significant advantages to this system because of its unique retention system without the challenges with housings and O-rings. In my opinion, the Dentatus Atlas System gives the general dentist much more leeway, and is significantly easier to use. It is well accepted by patients who have little bone support for their lower dentures and are looking for real help.
Botox and dermal fillers for every dental practice – Even in this economy, these are very popular patient treatment that dentists around the country are now starting to learn and offer. These services are not only for medical/dental spas, but for every routine dental practice. Many states allow dentists to perform these procedures entirely and most states at least allow these procedures when they are directly related to dental treatment. You can use these procedures to enhance cosmetic dentistry, treatment of TMJ and bruxism, and smoothing of facial wrinkles to enhance your esthetic dental cases. This is certainly one of the hottest topics I speak about in my lectures. Hands-on training opportunities are available through a number of venues and can be found on my Web site, www.commonsensedentistry.com.
Occlusion – There is certainly a need for more courses in this arena— but there are a number of good hands-on courses available. The Pankey Institute and Las Vegas Institute (LVI) offer intensive training on occlusion. Occlusion is the backbone of success for all of your dentistry.
Now is also the time to see how new technology fits into your practice. We have more options available than ever before. In-office CAD/CAM such as the E4D, digital impression units such as the Cadent Itero, and 3-D cone beam and lasers, are all now viable options for many dental practices depending on a number of factors. Spend some time with your Henry Schein Field Sales Consultant and let them help you work through some of these wonderful opportunities that we have never had before.
Simply put, your best investment is yourself and your training. In this economy, now is the time more than ever to look at yourself with a critical eye and see how you can improve and add to your clinical skills. This is a sure recipe for success for the challenges that we all have to deal with every day.
Dr. Louis Malcmacher is a practicing general dentist in Bay Village, Ohio. He lectures internationally; is an author, and dental consultant known for his comprehensive and entertaining style. An evaluator for Clinicians Reports (formerly Clinical Research Associates), Dr. Malcmacher has served as a spokesman for the AGD, and is a consultant to the Council on Dental Practice of the American Dental Association. He works closely with dental manufacturers as a clinical researcher in developing new products and techniques. For close to three decades, Dr. Malcmacher has inspired his audiences and consulting clients to truly enjoy doing dentistry by providing the knowledge necessary for excellent clinical and practice management. His group dental practice has maintained a 45% overhead since 1988. You can contact him at 440 892-1810 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also see his lecture schedule at www.commonsensedentistry.com where you can find information about building the best dental team ever.