The journey begins

I am humbled and honored to carry on the vision of Dr. Joe Blaes. Starting in 1997, Dr. Blaes led Dental Economics to become the premier business journal for dentistry.

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I must begin with an acknowledgement.

I am humbled and honored to carry on the vision of Dr. Joe Blaes. Starting in 1997, Dr. Blaes led Dental Economics to become the premier business journal for dentistry. I remember receiving my first copies as a fourth-year dental student and devouring the contents. It has been indispensable reading for so many of us, and that is thanks to Dr. Blaes' leadership. As chief editor, he always showed great taste in curating content and setting a professional tone. The Dental Economics team and I wish him great success in his future endeavors. If you're drinking a beverage while reading this, now is a good time to raise it to Joe.

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Now let's get acquainted. You deserve an explanation as to why I'm attempting to fill Dr. Blaes' big shoes. I'm a practicing general dentist from Long Island, New York. I graduated from SUNY Stony Brook School of Dental Medicine in 2005, completed a GPR there, and then bounced around the world of associateships for a few years. In 2010, my good friend Dr. Erin Thomas and I decided to open a practice from scratch. Co-owning a start-up practice in a competitive market, in the middle of the Great Recession, taught me a great deal about the business of dentistry. I preserved the details of my successes and failures on my blog, The Curious Dentist.

Invaluable lessons also came from organized dentistry. In dental school I had the honor of serving as the national president of the American Student Dental Association. More recently I was the chair of the ADA's New Dentist Committee. I'm currently finishing my term as president of my local ADA component, the Suffolk County Dental Society. My experiences with organized dentistry have taught me a great many things. Politics is a funny game. Perhaps chief among my lessons: It's better to be on the same team and disagree than to not play the game at all.

And we need to play the political game now more than ever. You've certainly heard the news that our profession is changing rapidly and permanently. Research studies published by the ADA, AGD, and here on the pages of Dental Economics have all confirmed the trends: decreasing adult dental visits, rising student indebtedness, a decline in the number of retiring dentists, more dental schools being built, the increasing consumerization of patients, and so on. We now know the Great Recession is not to blame for any slowness in our practices; there are more powerful and subtle economic forces at work.

My father is an orthodontist. Over the years I recall when his practice slowed down during several minor economic dips or a few major ones like the stock market crash of 1987. Fortunately his practice always bounced back once the economy turned around. But will our practices bounce back from the Great Recession? No, not unless we change the way we think about the business of dentistry.

We must become more active business owners. We must relearn how to lead our teams, manage our finances, be efficient in delivering our treatment, and grow our practices through responsible marketing. Our respect and care for our patients is still paramount, no doubt about it. But at the same time we can take control of our businesses rather than let our businesses control us. Does that sound daunting? Good news: you're holding the how-to guide right here in your hands.

Over the coming months we'll begin to update the look and feel of our publication. I'm thrilled that many of the columnists you've enjoyed reading will continue to share their wisdom with us. In addition, we'll see a lot of new faces with fresh perspectives. In this issue, I am particularly excited to introduce you to Dr. Joshua Austin, a new columnist who is taking over "Pearls for Your Practice." I've known Josh for years as an engaging writer, outstanding lecturer, and an enthusiastic expert on dental materials and equipment.

Welcome to a new chapter in the 104-year history of Dental Economics. We need this magazine now more than ever. It's still a wonderful time to be a dentist. Let's go exploring!

Cheers,

Chris Salierno, DDS
email: CSalierno@PennWell.com

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