Change the Script

As a Dentist, you KNOW the value of what you do. It’s obviously much more than just holding a drill. It involves the science of diagnosis and treatment planning, but you have to have the more nuanced skills of reading your patient’s tolerance for detail, understanding situations, and making decisions based on those factors. Sometimes the best treatment is not the typical textbook prescription.

Moki recently told me of an experience he had that reminded me of this: He had just moved to NYC to start a company and was completely broke. While eating something, his first molar completely fractured. He freaked out because:

  1. It’s objectively scary.
  2. He had no insurance.

Prescriptions aren’t always black and white.

This was before ZocDoc and all the internet tools available today. So to find a dentist, he literally had to look someone up the old-fashioned way. He thought he might have better luck with an Indian dentist and found someone in K-town. He crossed his fingers and went to her. She had literally just started her brand-new practice and the office was completely empty. She took a look and told him his tooth was shot and it needed a crown. This was a while ago, but crowns were still expensive. And as she broke the bad news (pun intended) she could clearly see the worry on his face because he had no money or insurance.

So she rebuilt his tooth with a filling. I’ve taken a look at it, and it’s gorgeous, even though its amalgam. All the bells and whistles, anatomy and all. It’s almost 15 years out now and it’s still holding strong. And he won’t let me touch it. But the best part of the story is that when she finished, he thanked her profusely and asked how much he owed, she said not to worry about it. It completely made his day, but he couldn’t believe it..

This was a textbook case of needing a crown. But she read the situation and wanted to make it work for him. It took a lot of work to build that tooth and she never got paid for it. But she did it because it made her feel good. And Moki remembers her to this day. *Incidentally, he just happened to look her up and found out that her office is still there! He reached out to her to pay her a visit and properly compensate her for the work.*

I digress, but sometimes, the best care is beneath the surface. It’s not just about drilling and filling. Nor is it necessarily doing things for free either — sometimes it’s taking an extra moment with a patient who is going through a tough time, listening to someone’s problems, being gracious when someone is late — it can be anything. The point is when you run your business, you treat PEOPLE. And those people appreciate your care, not just your dentistry. Moki’s experience is heart-warming, but it’s hard to imagine getting that type of care at large group practices — especially if they are one of the larger corporate dentistry organizations who are profit centered.

This story is really to tee up my next entry where I want to talk about the industry and where it’s headed. It’s important to recognize the trends in the industry and whether the supply and demand of dentistry are aligning. I have strong convictions about this and feel that private practice plays a CRUCIAL role in keeping up with these changes in the marketplace.

Talk to you guys soon!