by Bill Blatchford
General dentists are rethinking previous goals of becoming known by their highly niched cosmetic practices. Now that every dentist is listed as a cosmetic dentist, some in the profession are thinking of other ways to make their general practices stand out from the crowd. Is it time to rethink who you are and add something new?
If you recognize this phenomenon in your community, lead the change! Adding new skills keeps you sharp and excited about the future. Your team will see new energy from their leader. Cosmetics has become the standard of care, regardless of a dentist’s quality or expertise. The fact is, cosmetics is one of the treatment modalities the public perceives that you deliver, just as any other skill in general dentistry. Branding yourself as a cosmetic dentist does not make you special today, yet it is certainly not a throwaway. If you diagnose cosmetics more often, you will end up with more cosmetic dentistry, rather than trying to generate it through marketing. But you still need to develop a new excellent skill and look to be known for something different that will distinguish you from other clinicians.
If you enjoy surgery, give some real consideration to learning implant skills. Take a weekend course to whet your appetite and see if you have the aptitude. But please do not limit yourself to a weekend course. To hang your shingle as an implant dentist, you must take a year-long course. Because of the complexity of implants, some dentists actually take the full course twice. Most courses provide hands-on training and include in-depth anatomy, bioengineering, and mechanics. Commit to the challenge.
Adding implants to your general practice has many advantages. There is a growing market for implants. The oldest baby boomers are now 62 with the youngest at 47. This represents 72 million people - a large segment of the population whose smiles may not have received the care they can now afford or value. These people are missing single teeth, are partially edentulous, or are not wearing dentures because they have no mandibular ridge. Many boomers have expanding incomes at this time in their lives. There is much evidence that this generation wants to be forever young.
Speaking of benefits to the practice, consider a Florida dentist who had a cosmetically focused practice with the skill to warrant advertising as such. He was producing $800,000 with much effort. He added implants and IV sedation and will produce $2 million this year, just by adding those two skills.
Many dentists restore implants but do not place them. Some of your patients would really rather have the dentist they know do the implants, rather than be referred to someone else. The person doing the restorative work should also be the one making decisions on implant placement. Before I learned implant skills, I recall some implant placements and angles that would not guarantee excellent results.
Adding implant skills is a real challenge for the scientific mind. Implants are both technical and intellectual. I am very impressed with the latest techniques of bone grafts and sinus lifts, and I can see much joy and challenge for general dentists. I am amazed to see the sacred sinus being treated with cadaver powder and healing very well. Implants are being embraced by the best. Dr. John Kois has said he would prefer an implant over an endodontically compromised tooth.
Many of your patients are candidates for implants. As you have experienced, taking a full clinical course on a different subject motivates a different diagnosis than before. A new awareness occurs. With the advances in implant placement techniques, almost anyone is a candidate. Twenty years ago, my father-in-law had insufficient bone for implants. Today, there are few barriers to an excellent result.
There are plenty of patients who want permanent and fixed teeth. Few are motivated by your marketing of implants. Work with your team on right-brained scripting and avoid the raw mechanics of implants with patients. They really aren’t that interested in the technical process.Some general dentists aim at a one-stop shop and are becoming trained to deliver it all. Implant skills should definitely be on the list. Make 2007 the year to add new skills to your cosmetic repertoire.
Dr. Bill Blatchford is a leading dental business coach who has worked with more than 2,000 offices to help dentists achieve more time off, more net, and more enjoyment. Become a member of Blatchford FILES, Dr. Blatchford’s monthly CD on winning at dental business. The first two months are free. Call (541) 389-9088 or visit www.blatchford.com for more information.