Dental Retirement Age? No Way, Say Dentists

Dentists veto mandatory dental retirement ageDentists shouldn’t have to retire just because they’ve reached a certain age, say doctors. This survey found only 1 dentist in 10 supporting a mandatory retirement age for dentists.

A mandatory dental retirement age was recently in the spotlight when the European Court of Justice ruled in favor of Germany’s law mandating retirement for dentists and firefighters past a certain age, finding it does not constitute age discrimination. [Read more]

Here are some thoughts from dentists:

  • Dental continuing education should be required. Patients know when a practitioner’s abilities are diminishing, as do dentists themselves. Liability concern should prevent dentists from procedures for which they no longer have the skills.” (Mississippi dentist)
  • “In Germany and in Europe, there is a mandatory retirement age for workers/employee, so why not for dentists? I do not think it has to do with competence, but rather with social economy and spot for young dentists to practice.” (California orthodontist)
  • “I am approaching my 76th birthday and 48th year in practice. I still am able to deliver superb dentistry including full-mouth and cosmetic dentistry cases, but I just see patients three days a week. To me, retirement is a nasty word.” (California prosthodontist)
  • “I am about to turn 70 this year, and I feel my skills are better than they have ever been. I take lots of continuing dental education and feel I know so much more about dentistry than most younger recent grads.” (New York dentist)
  • “A simple evaluation of current work is very easy to do today. Just have a dentist present pictures and radiographs of current work as a competency report.” (New York prosthodontist)
  • “There maybe should be some additional testing in those dentists over 75-80. We have one in our city that I believe is 88… His patients are not getting proper periodontal care and I’m concerned about the dentistry provided.” (California dentist)
  • “The doctor should know when it is time to hang it up.” (Texas pediatric dentist)
  • “If you can be US president in your 70’s, why not a dentist?”
  • “Not only do people’s skills vary, different aspects of dentistry demand different levels of skills. In addition to orthodontics, I practice dental sleep medicine (oral appliances for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea). I could practice the latter until they take me out on a stretcher.” (Oregon braces dentist)
  • “We all know dentists that should have ‘retired’ at the age of 30! Some of us can go to 70 with no problems. It depends on the individual.” (Nevada dentist)
  • “Dumb idea. Who would make that decision — some governmental bureaucrat? Should there be a mandatory retirement from life itself, too?” (California dentist)
  • “The wealth of knowledge and experience an older dentist has would be a loss to our profession if he/she could not mentor a new associate in a clinical environment.” (Pennsylvania dentist)
  • “Specialties vary. People vary. It’s insane to consider seriously.” (Colorado orthodontist)

Read more: Dentist Retirement: Dentists Say ‘No’ to Mandatory Retirement Age

Dental Practice Management: Scheduling a Comprehensive Exam

Dental Practice Management: Scheduling a Comprehensive Exam
What is the best dental practice management policy on length of a new patient exam?

51% schedule a minimum of 40 minutes for comprehensive dental exams, this survey found.

Only 27% of dentists said they perform comprehensive exams in less than 30 minutes.

“Actually, I schedule an hour and sometimes it takes longer The compete exam is THE single greatest internal dental marketing technique,” offered one dentist, a subtle comment for comprehensive exams being a part of an overall dental marketing plan.

Here’s how dentists responded to this survey asking what length of time they schedule for an initial comprehensive exam:

  • 4% 10 minutes.
  • 10% 15 minutes.
  • 10% 20 minutes.
  • 3% 25 minutes.
  • 22% 30 minutes
  • 51% 40+ minutes.

Here are some further comments on scheduling comprehensive exams from dentists:

It should be one hour …

“One hour. It’s COMPREHENSIVE. That cannot be done in less than 45 minutes. It means you are looking at radiographs, perio probing, restorative, occlusion, TMJ, health history, and oral cancer exam. I defy anyone who says that a “comprehensive” exam can be done any faster.” (Georgia dentist)

“For new patients, an hour max, but if I only give them 20 minutes of my time, I don’t get the case as often.” (Illinois dentist)

“Really should schedule 50 or 60 minutes on adults.” (General dentist)

“We schedule one hour initial exam for perio charting, radiographs, photos, models, charting restoration, and for getting to know the patient.” (Michigan dentist)

“We schedule an hour, but sometimes it takes even longer.” (California dentist)

It should be more than an hour …

“We schedule 1 1/2 hours for initial medical history gathering, interview, complimentary Velscope cancer screening, necessary x-rays and comprehensive exam. NO cleaning at this appointment.” (Minnesota dentist)

“I actually spend and hour and a half for each new patient examination. Not one gets into hygiene without a NP exam.” (Washington dentist)

“My first appointment is 1.5 hours in length with a pre-paid reservation fee.” (California dentist)

“My patient is scheduled for 2 hours. In that time we take photos, x-rays, models and intra-oral images as well as the full exam, interview and charting with the doctor.” (New Jersey dentist)

“We schedule 90 minutes. 45 minutes for the exam and 45 minutes for records.” (Florida dentist)

Note: Survey sample included 100 respondents.

Dental Patients Will Travel To See Their Dentist (video)

Dental patients travel for dentist treatmentThe average dental patient travels about 5-10 miles to see their dentist for treatment, we found in this survey of dentists. Rural patients travel longer distances for dental care than do urban residents.

However, some patients keep their dentist even after moving hundreds – sometimes thousands – of miles away.

“I’m a specialist," said one periodontist, "so we have quite a few patients from the coast, which is 90 miles away."

Agreed a dental implant dentist, "Many of our patients travel up to 4 hours by car for their treatment." An orthodontist seconded this, saying, "I have had a few patients who have travelled 150 miles one way to come to my office." 

"Including the guy who comes from Palm Beach?" asked a New York oral surgeon. "Not enough patients come from far away!"

Maybe it's New York… “I have both an active local clientele and an international clientele,” boasted a prosthodontist from that state.

Read more about this dental management issue: Dental Patient Travel Distance: Dentist Survey Results

Dental Marketing: Negative Online Review Appears as a Facebook Page

negative dental page on FacebookIn the past The Wealthy Dentist has written about negative online reviews in such articles as Appeals Court Says Yes to Dentist Lawsuit Against Patient for Online Review andWhen a Dentist’s Relationship Goes Bad on the Internet — both stories about harmful dental critiques posted on review sites like Yelp and Angie’s List.

But in August of this year, Chris Cook of Bakersfield, CA, pushed negative online reviews to a new level.

It was reported in dental news site DrBicuspid.com that Mr.  Cook took his 5-year-old son to see Bakersfield pediatric dentist Edward Dove, DDS, for a tooth extraction. Mr. Cook claims Dr. Dove mistreated his son during that visit by extracting a tooth before the child was adequately sedated.

According to DrBiCuspid.com, Cook stated that his son vomited up most of the sedative, screamed, and urinated on himself while allegedly being held down by three dental assistants during the procedure.  Allegations Dr. Dove vehemently denies.

Chris Cook decided to take matters into his own hands and created the “I Hate Dr. Dove of Bakersfield” page on Facebook, attracting more than 200 members in its first 48 hours.

Luckily for Dr. Dove, Facebook does have a policy for pages with the word “hate” and considers them in strict violation of their terms of service.  They swiftly moved to shut down the dental hate page.

Cook was undaunted by the Facebook boot, turned around and created a second Facebook group page, “Bakersfield dentist DOES NOT ROCK!!!!!!!!!” which is still up and active.

Dr. Dove has handled the situation by defending his treatment in the press and pointing to his 23 years in practice without a single disciplinary action. He has chosen not to engage with Chris Cook on his Facebook page, and was quoted in Dr Bicuspid as saying, “I think my reputation will be hurt a little bit, but right now I just want to calm down,” Dr. Dove said, “This guy is going ballistic, he’s trying to smear me, and I’m getting bullied.”

But should Dr. Dove be more concerned?

Just how significant are bad reviews for the future of your dental practice?

A new survey by market analysis firm Cone, Inc., found that four out of five consumers have reversed purchase decisions based on negative reviews found on the Internet. Another survey by Ratepoint found that 40 percent of consumers indicated they are more likely to consider a local business when they respond to a negative online review.

In the case of a Facebook page being dedicated to hating a dental practice, a dentist has little recourse since the unhappy page creator would have to allow the dentist to join the group page in order to issue a response.

Dentists have had little luck in defamation lawsuits when it comes to negative online reviews since the courts tend to look upon unhappy reviews as free speech. In a recent defamation case in California, a dentist has been ordered to pay $80,000 in attorney fees to the parents who posted a negative online review.

So how do you combat something like a negative Facebook page?

By making sure your dental practice has more than one website that appears on the top pages of Google when your business (and personal) name is searched online. Also have your own Facebook page, or pages for each type of treatment you offer. Have a Twitter page and make sure your practice is listed in as many dental directories as you can find. The idea is to control what appears on the first page of Google about your dental practice. Regular press releases help with this too.

For solutions to multiple name search and directory listing go to: www.InternetDentalAlliance.com.

For more on this story see: Facebook Pulls Plug on Angry Dad’s Antidentist Page

Dentists Comment on Economic Outlook (Video)

Dental practice marketing with internet videoThe recession hit most Americans pretty hard – and dentists are no exception.

Reduced consumer spending was financially challenging for lots of dental practices.

Finally, the economy seems to be improving.

But not every dentist is convinced that we’ve recovered yet.

“The recession is over for everything but large cosmetic dentistry cases,” said an Illinois dentist.

“I’ve had patients put off fillings, crowns and routine cleanings, examinations, and radiographs because they had to pay their mortgage, car payment and utility bills instead,” said another Illinois dentist.

We conducted a survey asking dentists if they feel like the recession is over at their dental practices.

Jim Du Molin and Julie Frey discuss what dentists think about the economic outlook:

For 56% of dentists in this survey, conducted in 2012, the recession is still going strong. But it’s getting better – when we asked the same question in 2010, 78% thought the recession was still in full swing.

Dentists are particularly aware of consumer spending patterns.

“I’m seeing an improvement in the number of new patients, but they’re still not buying big cases for the most part,” said a Nevada dentist.

“My practice is doing well, but what about my real estate and the cost of gas? I appreciate the practice situation, but it’s only part of the puzzle,” said a California dentist.

“It won’t be over for at least another 5-10 years. It seems like since the recession the rules of etiquette and professionalism are out the door. Dentists bad-mouth other doctors in the same town much more than they used to before the recession,” said a general dentist.

“We didn’t go through a downturn because we quickly assumed that a ‘New Normal’ was in place and adapted to it. This meant becoming even more patient-centered in terms of economics, i.e., being insurance friendly, doing treatment in phases, offering many financial options, doing build-ups instead of crowns. The office philosophy became ‘keep ‘em in the practice’ in 2009, and it stays that way today,” said a New York dentist.

In a tough economy, that’s a great philosophy to have.

The best way to be successful is to adapt to your circumstances.

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