Mega Dental Practices the New Dentist Reality?

Dentist Plans “Disneyland of Dentistry”

Dr. Derek Thompson, a 37-year-old Washington state dentist, has set his sights on building the biggest dental practice he possibly can. In fact, he’s gone so far as to call the new facility (which will cover a whopping 25,000 square feet) “the Disneyland of dentistry.”

And what would Disneyland be without entertainment? Thompson plans to delight children with games and an aquarium – oh, and with giant sculptures of prehistoric animals as well. Adults will be able to enjoy free internet access and deluxe coffee drinks.

Dr. Thompson started his career with a more traditional dental practice. Apple Valley Dental found success by targeting the same patients that many other practices try to avoid: those with Medicaid coupons. He and the practice’s three other dentists have a support staff of 30. The practice has expanded rapidly, doing some $1.4 million worth of Medicaid business in 2006.

Thompson’s business model focuses on treating lots of patients (many of them low-income) with lots of tooth decay. And Washington’s Yakima county has no shortage of such patients.

Creekside Dental serves the same population. One of the practice’s doctors, Dr. Shane Smith, explains that the clinic treats 200 patients a day, spread between five dentists and 22 treatment rooms. To handle such a high volume of patients, much of the prep work is performed by dental hygienist and assistants. (In fact, the state legislature recently introduced a new class of dental professionals, expanded function dental auxiliaries, whose responsibilities will be just below those of hygienists.)

Currently, some 85% of dental work is performed by a traditional dentist with his or her own practice. However, as economic realities change, more and more practices will have to examine ways to decrease expenses and increase profitability.

Dr. Thompson is confident he’ll be ahead of the curve. His new 25,000-square-foot facility will have 28 patient rooms, though he’s only planning to use 15 of them in the beginning.

Many dentists are critical of high-volume dental practices, calling them “dental mills” or “assembly lines.” However, Thompson shrugs off this criticism. “Is it a mill because we’ll accept children who need help?” he asks rhetorically.

Being the vanguard of a new era in dentistry is not without its risks. However, Thompson’s competitors were diplomatic when asked about his strategies. “Derek Thompson is a promoter, and you need promoters,” said one. “He’s doing a completely different thing,” offered another.

Thompson himself was less conciliatory. “We’ve destroyed every other clinic in town on services,” he boasts. “This is competitive annihilation. You’re seeing a changing of the guard.”

In total, what does this all mean? Mega practices are nothing new. Las Vegas has been running 24-hour practices for casino and hotel employees for at least ten years. Entertainment for kids has always been big in the pediatric dentistry market. Giant dinosaurs are just the next step. The only thing I’m unsure of is highly-caffeinated patients from the deluxe coffee drinks… That could be a problem in the making!

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Whew! $15 Million Dental Malpractice Award in Washington

Oral Surgeon Plans to Appeal Jury’s Award

In a jury trial, Washington state’s Spokane County Superior Court awarded a stunning $14.8 million to a woman left disabled after a series of jaw operations. The defendant’s lawyer commented that it was the largest dental malpractice award he had seen in his 21 years of practice in the state.

Kimberly Kallestad, 29, originally injured her jaw while sledding. Botched operations left her jaw fused shut. She suffers from chronic pain, and her parents now take care of her.

Oral surgeon Dr. Patrick Collins has allegedly had similar problems with patients in the past. He is planning to appeal the verdict.

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Holistic Dentistry: Methods for the “Alternative Dentist”

Holistic dentist: alternative dentistryDentists: why should you care about “Alternative” dental approaches? Because large segments of your dental market care. In these tough economic times, it pays to know enough about these alternatives to be able to discuss them intelligently when patients ask questions about them. From a dental marketing point of view, it is imperative that you treat these questions with respect.

Do you know exactly what holistic dentistry is? How about “biological dentistry”? What about things like dental homeopathic medicine, Dental Somatic Integration™, and mercury chelation therapy?

Well, this week I’ll walk you through some of what “alternative dentistry” has to offer…

Dr. Weston Price, DDS (1870-1948) is the dentist often considered the father of the holistic dental movement. In comparing “modern” cultures with traditional, tribal peoples, he concluded that our modern diet leads to all manner of health and dental problems: caries, impacted wisdom teeth, allergies, fatigue, and even cancer. [Learn more about Dr. Weston Price]

Dr. Price also campaigned passionately against root canals, arguing that they leaked bacteria and other toxic materials into the body. To this day, many a holistic dentist opposes root canal therapy.

Holistic dentistry (sometimes called “wholistic dentistry“) – like all types of holistic medicine – dictates that the patient be treated as a whole person. This view of the holistic dentist is somewhat at odds with today’s widespread concept of dentists as oral health practitioners who have little to do with the rest of the body.

Nutrition and body chemistry are key concerns of holistic dentistry. Holistic dentists may use blood tests or hair samples to monitor patients’ nutrient levels, offering nutritional supplements or dietary counseling.

Holistic medicine strives to meet the psychological, emotional and spiritual needs of its patients, helping to tap self-healing potential. It also views the whole person as deeply connected to the person’s physical and emotional environment. [Learn more about holism]

Some holistic dentists also use homeopathic medicine, which is a particular form of alternative medicine. Based on the concept of “like cures like,” homeopathic medicines are successive dilutions of a natural substance that causes symptoms similar to those the practitioner is trying to cure. [Learn more about homeopathic medicine]

Though most often practiced by chiropractors, applied kinesiology issometimes used by holistic dentists. Dental Somatic Integration™ is based on the idea that fixing tooth problems can heal pain or injury in other parts of the body. [Learn more about Dental Somatic Integration™]

TMJ patients may be offered cranial therapy (also known as “cranial osteopathy” or “craniosacral therapy“) to relieve TMJ pain. This therapy involves manipulating the bones of the skull and jaw as well as the “rhythm” of the cerebrospinal fluid.

Biological dentistry focuses on using bio-compatible dental materials, acknowledging that different patients may have different biocompatibility. The biological dentist is particularly concerned with mercury and other metals used in dental restorations, both in terms of toxicity and “oral galvanism” (electrical currents generated by these metals). Biological dentists also argue that many patients have areas of decay and dead tissue, known as dental interference fields or foci. [Learn more about Biological dentistry]

Mercury-free dentistry (not quite the same thing as mercury-safe dentistry) has perhaps gained the most widespread acceptance. A number of dentists (according to our survey on mercury amalgam fillings, up to half of dentists) feel that mercury amalgam may not be a safe treatment. Most commonly, these dentists offer composite fillings instead. Some actually recommend patients have existing silver fillings removed. A few even offer chelation therapy as a way of removing toxic mercury from the body.

Want to learn more? Here are some links you may find interesting:

Dentists Disappointed by Dental Graduates

Dental school graduates disappoint dentistsWhen it comes to dental school graduates, only one dentist in two is satisfied. Overall, dentists graded recent dental graduates at about a C+.

Half of survey respondents report that they are “satisfied” (33%) or “very satisfied” (17%). On the other hand, half are “seriously disappointed” (22%) or “mostly unimpressed” (28%).

Here’s what dentists have to say about dental school graduates – both in terms of dental practice management savvy and clinical know-how:

  • “I feel that a lot of the graduates of dental school do not have the work ethic that my group has, and they expect to be making a six figure income straight out of school!!” (Alabama dentist)
  • “Clinical requirements for graduation have been decreasing significantly, and students now are not getting the same education and experience students did 10 years ago.  Most receive little to no dental implant education and little experience with dentures.” (Ohio prosthodontist)
  • “Too many don’t know how to do the procedures required once in practice.  With us old guys being their backup, they continue to work… but as we retire, the skills we teach them are lost to them.”
  • “Texas has three fine dental school with state of the art equipment.” (Texas dentist)
  • “I think it is a shame that some state schools accept an inordinate number of international students over qualified in-state students, frankly because they can charge the former increased tuitions.”

Read more: Dental School Graduates Disappoint Dentists

Dentists, Sports Cars & Porsches (video)

Dentists drive sports carsDentists all drive Porsches! Well, not quite, but 60% of dentists responding to this survey admitted they have owned a sports car.

And fully one in four dentists in this survey has owned a Porsche.

“I don’t drive mine to the office,” sighed one orthodontist. “I can’t afford the gas.” Agreed a pediatric dentist, “Nice cars, poor investments.”

“I race a Formula One car,” shared an oral surgeon. “I find it is a great outlet and love the sport!”

“Why would a dentist be any different from anyone else, like a dental consultant or a contractor?” asked one dentist. “People like and buy what they want.”

Read more: Sports Cars and the Dentists Who Drive Them

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