Are dentists happy practicing dentistry and with their practices? Let’s take a look at what the data shows. There was an excellent article in the Journal of the American Dental Association September 2017 Volume 148, Issue 9, Pages 690–692, by Marko Vujicic, PhD who is the Chief Economist and Vice President of the ADA Health Policy Institute. His data and studies are excellent and are a valuable resource for all dental professionals.
In this September 2017 article titled, Practice ownership is declining, Dr. Vujicic states, “Overall, 80% of dentists in private practice are owners (author’s note – down from 84% in 2005), according to the data. …Practice ownership rates in dentistry are declining slowly and steadily. They are declining for almost every age group.” Dr. Vujicic continues, “The ability to own their own practices is one of the top 3 factors attracting dentists to dentistry, and most of dental school graduates intend to work in private practice. All else being equal, owner dentists earn more, although overall career satisfaction differences are not clear-cut.”
Dr. Vujicic ends the article with the suggestion that dentists may be moving away from private practice ownership because dentists much prefer the clinical side of dentistry rather than the practice management part of running a practice. I agree with this point, running a dental practice is hard work and is something dentists are not trained for and frequently do not enjoy. I do think that it goes deeper than this and it involves equally the clinical side of dentistry. I would now turn back to the questions “are dentists happy with their practices and with practicing dentistry?”
To me, the amazing thing about the study above is that 80% of dentists still choose private practice! Let’s face it – despite our best efforts, even with all the new treatment options and technology available, most patients and dentists hate going to the dentist. And we all knew this when we chose this profession because we are a very dedicated group of health professionals who really want to help patients. Clinical dentistry is technically challenging, can stress dental clinicians physically, and combine that with the practice management aspects, running a dental practice takes a toll emotionally.
Having trained thousands of dental professionals through the American Academy of Facial Esthetics (AAFE) in facial injectables like Botox®, dermal fillers and PDO thread lifts, the comment we most often receive from AAFE members is this has given them a new look at their practices with procedures that patients highly desire, are happy to receive and to pay for. What so many dentists report is by adding these procedures to their practices, it dramatically increases their production (see my Dental Economics column July 2018 When Less is More) and provides patients with optimal esthetic outcomes which they love.
I recently spoke to an AAFE member who demonstrates why he was adding facial injectables to his practice:
“I am a dentist and have a friend who is a nurse practitioner who was opening a Medspa office in the next building. The office wasn’t finished, and she asked if she could see patients in one of my treatment rooms for two days a week until her new office was ready. I was happy to help out. One day, I was doing some restorative dentistry on a patient who was a little difficult, the patient wasn’t happy, and neither was I. The nurse practitioner was treating patients with Botox® and dermal fillers in another room. They were joking, laughing and happy and even more amazing, the patient was happy to pay the nurse! That is when the lightbulb went on for me and I decided I have got to add this to my practice and that is why I got trained in facial injectables.”
Happiness comes from loving what you do and let’s face it, sometimes the challenges of running an office and providing the clinical dentistry can wear us down. Adding new exciting, highly desirable procedures to your practice mix like Botox® and dermal fillers provides a whole new dimension to your practice with procedures you and your patient will love. Learn to love your practice again. Be happy by getting trained today!
Louis Malcmacher DDS MAGD is a practicing general dentist and an internationally known lecturer and author. Dr. Malcmacher is president of the American Academy of Facial Esthetics (AAFE). You can contact him at 800 952-0521 or email drlouis@FacialEsthetics.org . Go to www.FacialEsthetics.org where you can find information about live patient Botox® and Dermal Fillers training, Solid Filler PDO Thread Lifts, Frontline TMJ/Orofacial Pain training, Dental Sleep Medicine, Bruxism Therapy and Medical Insurance, and sign up for a free monthly e-newsletter.
Figure 1 Patient treated with Botox®, Fillers, PDO Threads displays proper lip/smile lines and much better dento-facial esthetics
Figure 2 AAFE Faculty Dr. Suzanne Haley mentoring an attendee with a solid filler PDO thread lift
Call out – “That is when the lightbulb went on for me.”