Adding new services to your practice

July 1, 1998
There is no question that dentistry is in need of new services. Composite dentistry emerged in 1982 and has grown considerably ever since. Advances in recent years mainly have been modifications and improvements to existing services, but do not constitute new service categories of dentistry. Composites are still composites. Veneers are still veneers. Even whitening agents have been around for a while and, although extremely underutilized as a service, every dentist is well aware of their potenti

Roger Levin, DDS, MBA

There is no question that dentistry is in need of new services. Composite dentistry emerged in 1982 and has grown considerably ever since. Advances in recent years mainly have been modifications and improvements to existing services, but do not constitute new service categories of dentistry. Composites are still composites. Veneers are still veneers. Even whitening agents have been around for a while and, although extremely underutilized as a service, every dentist is well aware of their potential in terms of patient improvement. Using a product like Nite White® can provide your patients with the tools to whiten their teeth while they are sleeping.

In the mid-1980s, dental implants grew in popularity. Implant services grew for several years, but then the number of implants placed each year flattened out dramatically. This means that the dental-implants market is not growing as quickly as it should, despite the fact that they may be one of the best quality-of-life enhancing opportunities that we have in dentistry today, and that they are constantly improving.

What other services are truly new in dentistry? Although there have been dramatic improvements in technology, these are not necessarily treatment-oriented improvements that allow for enhanced practice production.

A brand new service category

One of the main objectives of dentists as leaders is to think out of the box. As an example, we have been extracting teeth and noticing ridge resorption following the extraction. In the event that a dental implant cannot be placed, these extractions usually cause some level of minor restorative or cosmetic problems. Ridge resorption necessitates the proper design of restorations, which often can lead to cleaning or appearance-related problems.

Recently, there has been a tremendous advance allowing dentists to fill extraction sites with bone immediately following the removal of a tooth. New products, such as OsteoGraf®/LD (CeraMed Corporation, Denver, Colorado, (800) 426-7836), have been shown to reduce ridge resorption significantly when placed in an extraction site immediately following the extraction. A simple sponge placed over the extraction-site area with a suture allows the extraction site to be filled within 30 seconds. In fact, the entire procedure requires only one to two minutes - 30 seconds to fill in the extraction site and 30 seconds to place the sponge and a suture.

Placing bone in extraction sites is an almost entirely new service. Because it is unlikely to be covered by insurance, it must be positioned to patients as a benefit. Simply explain that the placement of bone will allow for less ridge resorption, which preserves the bone in the mouth. Patients should understand that this will result in a better restorative procedure and/or a more cosmetic result.

Elective procedures, including bone-fill procedures, must be explained to patients in terms of benefits. They are not concerned with the fact that the bone is derived from certain sources or how the biochemistry works. They simply need to know that they will have a higher level of ridge preservation in response to the placement of bone. Many people are more than willing to pay a fee of anywhere from $80 to $100 in order to preserve a part of their body and have a better appearance.

New services

Other new services are emerging in dentistry, such as halitosis-prevention products and procedures. We must evaluate each of these and make a decision as to whether or not they fit our practice. Although we always want to incorporate the best version of any procedure, it is the new procedures that will help drive our practices forward. Whether it is bone to place in extraction sites or a reasonably priced approach to halitosis, both of which benefit many patients, all new services must be evaluated. We have to begin to recognize that we need to expand our practices by bringing in new opportunities to help our patients. This is what makes the successful practices successful.

Dr. Roger Levin is founder and president of The Levin Group, a national, dental-management and marketing-consulting firm. He can be reached at (410) 654-1234.

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