By Susan Braden
When you ask yourself why your dentist charges so much or what he or she thinks about dental plans, realizing what makes your dentist tick can help. Read on to understand more about dentists and their priorities.
A few factors set dentists apart from their colleagues who practice other medical disciplines. In an article in "Slate Magazine," June Thomas reveals that nearly 80% of dentists own and operate their own businesses, as compared to only about 20% of doctors. About 63% of dentists work solo, something that happens much less frequently in the group practice-oriented medical world.
Therefore, many dentists are as closely linked to the finances of their office as are people who own their own restaurants, shops or hair salons. Dentists are also much less likely to specialize than are their physician counterparts; only 21% of oral care professionals do so. As a result, less patients are referred to specialists than in the medical world. Finally, some dentists, particularly those who are entrepreneurs, only see as many patients as they need to in order to reach their financial goals. Inevitably, vulnerable patients are left out in the cold.
Recent innovations in technology and anesthesia have made modern dentistry much less painful and uncomfortable. At the same time, Americans are becoming increasingly unhappy about the appearance of their teeth and interested in doing something about it.
In the August 2001 issue of the "Journal of the American Dental Association," Dr. Gordon Christensen asserted that at least half of the average dentist’s income comes from elective cosmetic procedures like teeth whitening and veneers. In other words, patients’ preoccupation with the look of their teeth is also working to shape how dentists think and what priorities they embrace. Once again, economically disadvantaged patients suffer because the time and attention of professionals is becoming heavily weighted toward procedures which are often not medically necessary.
Pretend that you are a dentist who owns and runs your own practice with no partners. As a business owner, your priorities are divided between serving your customers/patients and keeping your operation afloat. You may see that dental plans are helpful because they enable you to address your concerns both as a medical professional and as an entrepreneur.
As a dentist who accepts a discount plan like the Careington Care 500, the prices you will charge for procedures are negotiated in advance. You may get less money from each patient, but millions of patients are members of this discount plan, so you can be assured of a steady stream of customers to fill appointment times.
Best of all, you and your staff don’t have to spend the bulk of your time chasing traditional insurance companies for reimbursement. No longer do you need to turn people away because they have not endured the requisite waiting period.
Instead, your focus can be on improving the atmosphere of your office, putting patients at ease, and providing the high quality care you want to give and your patients deserve to receive. After all, isn’t that why you chose to be a dentist in the first place?
There you have it: a walk in the shoes of your neighborhood dentist. Are his or her motives and behaviors more understandable now? More interesting still, can you appreciate why so many dentists are positive about discount dental plans?