When you ask yourself why your dentist charges so much or what he or she thinks about dental plans, it might help to see things from a dentist’s point of view. Read on to understand more about dentists and their priorities.
Dentists vs. Physicians
It’s not just the official letters after their names that set dentists apart from their colleagues in other medical disciplines. An article in “Slate Magazine” explains that nearly 80% of dentists own and operate their own businesses, as compared to only about 20% of medical doctors. In addition, about 63% of dentists work solo, something that happens much less frequently in the group practice-oriented medical world.
As a result, dentists are often as closely linked to the finances of their office as are restaurant, shop or hair salon owners. Dentists are also much less likely to specialize than their physician counterparts; only 21% of oral care professionals do so. As a result, fewer patients are referred to specialists than in the medical world. In addition, some dentists, particularly entrepreneurs, only see as many patients as would help them reach their financial goals. Inevitably, vulnerable patients are left out in the cold.
Dental Priorities and Technology
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 want to do something about it.
At least half of the average dentist’s income comes from elective cosmetic procedures like veneers and teeth whitening, according to Dr. Gordon Christensen in the August 2001 issue of the “Journal of the American Dental Association.” In other words, patients’ preoccupation with aesthetics has also been shaping how dentists think and what priorities they embrace. Once again, economically disadvantaged patients suffer because the time and attention of dental professionals is becoming heavily weighted toward procedures which are often not medically necessary.
A Dentist’s Perspective on Discount Plans
Imagine that you are a dentist who owns and runs your own practice. As a business owner, your priorities are divided between serving your customers/patients and keeping your operation afloat. Dental plans can be very helpful because they enable you to address your concerns both as a medical professional and as an entrepreneur.
Dentists who accept a discount plan like the Careington 500 Series, for instance, are part of a network that has negotiated in advance regarding the prices to charge for a wide range of procedures. They may get less money from each patient, but millions of patients are members of this discount plan, so they can be assured of a steady stream of patients to fill available appointment times.
Best of all, as a dentist, you and your staff don’t have to spend the bulk of your time chasing traditional insurance companies for reimbursement. You no longer need to turn people away because they have not endured the requisite waiting period.
Instead, you can focus on improving your office atmosphere, putting patients at ease and providing the high-quality care your patients deserve. After all, isn’t that why you chose to be a dentist in the first place?
A Glimpse Beyond the X-Rays and Drills
There you have it: a walk in the shoes of your neighborhood dentist. A look “behind the scenes” can help you better understand your dentist’s motives and behaviors and even help you appreciate why so many dentists are positive about discount dental plans.