This Is Not Your Grandfather’s Dentistry

Expert Insights


Written by MB2 doctor partner Dr. Chris Poulos, owner of CMP Dental Arts in Fayetteville, NY.

“The times they are a-changing’” – Bob Dylan

Let’s face it, dentistry is changing. There are benefits and costs of greater oversight of dentistry consisting of rules, regulations, insurance dictates from participation, and human resources (HR) logistics. These trends require more time and other resources than ever before. Many of us have heard stories of dentists like the proverbial “Dr Goodtooth” of 40 years ago who graduated dental school while working his way through school. This graduate would then take on a small loan for a practice, and a first home, hang up a shingle, install a couple of chairs, then attend the local chapters of various civic organizations, and their children’s schools, and finally hire a receptionist and dental assistant. Voila, the doctor had himself a healthy patient pool and way to earn a living for the remainder of his lifetime.

Today, we dentists face a litany of expectations as clinicians and owners in order to comply with federal and local mandates. We work diligently to keep our patients and staff members safe, while continuously improving upon the dental care experience. Evidence-based dentistry has become the norm and more time and resources are needed to keep up with these important demands. Since 2003, but particularly after the recent pandemic, OSHA and infection control adherence for our offices is paramount. These daily, weekly, monthly, and annual housekeeping rules need constant vigilance, expertise, and attention. Our staffing needs have become more complex and HR requires more vigilance. Systems need to be implemented and having an HR department to keep up with compliance for increasingly new and changing regulations is more important than ever.

Inflation is Here

While there can be healthy debate over increased rules and regulations and their relationship to improvements in dental care, there is no denying the dual struggle we now face with rising costs of doing business and the deteriorating pay structure of many dental insurances. While other businesses can price in their increased supply and staffing costs to their customers, many insurance-driven dental practices lack this ability. Thus, dentists profit margins are shrinking. The answer to this conundrum may allude the solo doctor who either lacks the influence to get bulk discounts in supplies and/or does not have the know-how and power to negotiate increases in dental insurance fee schedules. Outsourcing certain systems is hardly a reality for the single practitioner. Dentistry demands focus and attention on our patients and to our staff members. How do we best balance our family, personal, and professional lives while fighting the squeeze from inflation?

Where do we go from Here

Is the dream of practice ownership over? It is not coming to an end, but it is likely changing. While we may neither be able to nor desire to replicate the proverbial ‘Dr Goodtooth’s’ practice of forty years ago, we can still have control over our clinical care, equity in our practices, and a stake in our successes by working alongside organized partners. Larger scale Dental Service Organizations (DSO’s) are a present reality and today’s dentistry, tethered with the complexity of achieving balance in our lives, requires outside assistance. There are a myriad of choices of partners on this new and exciting journey. Traditional DSOs can serve to relieve dentists from an ownership burden while providing proven systems for success yet keep clinical decision making in the hands of the clinician. Dental Partnership Organizations (DPO’s) like MB2 are becoming more popular. They assist with many of the systems and relieve the dentist of managerial burdens as adept partners in the journey. Yet, in this latter model, the dentist still maintains an ownership interest and stake in the success of their practice. Autonomy is balanced with proven systems that work. The solo dentist in no longer practicing in a vacuum but rather as part of something bigger. Feelings of isolation dissipate. And, stressors are shared with like-minded colleagues and operational staff that are there to assist. I have found all these things about MB2 to be true.

Can We Continue to Go it Alone

In the words of Lewis Carroll “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.” Dentists, particularly new dentists with huge educational loan burdens, need a plan in order to keep up with today’s dental practice ownership demands. For some, the traditional aspect of dental ownership still works. These dentists are able to juggle the smorgasbord of demands while finding enough time for themselves and their families and achieve success. However, I believe for many dentists, the immense student loan burden, busyness of today’s family life, and complexities of professional practice ownership requires support. MB2 has shown me, and countless others with whom I have spoken to, that they have the structure and fairness to offer a better overall balance to professional practice. This partnership, I believe allows dentists to maintain their lifestyle with an enhanced degree of mindfulness knowing there is a shoulder to lean on. Have a plan, explore all the pathways, that may get you there. Your open-mindedness will likely be rewarded!

I look forward to your comments and questions. Please do not hesitate to contact me at drpoulos@mb2dental.com

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