June 1, 2002
by Dental Practice Management
Montreal–More than 11,000 delegates and exhibitors attended the Canadian Dental Association’s joint convention with Les Journes dentaires internationales du Qubec in Montreal, the city where CDA was founded in 1902. The high point of the convention was the 100th Anniversary Gala Dinner. During the evening’s festivities, special tribute was paid to former CDA president Dr. Ralph Crawford, author of A Century of Service, a commemorative volume on the history of Canadian dentistry. Dr. Crawford was presented with a hardbound edition of the book and a portrait of himself and his wife Olga — the work of retired Winnipeg dentist Dr. Taras Snihurowycz.
Another study, similar results
Warminster, PA–Cardiac transplant patients had a significantly higher incidence of periodontal disease than patients with no history of heart disease involved in a recent study, according to data presented at the 24th World Congress of Cardiology meeting in Sydney, Australia.
The study adds further evidence that periodontal disease may be linked to more serious systemic illnesses. In the study, “Periodontitis: A New Cardiovascular Risk Factor,” researcher Jan Lessem, M.D., Ph.D, FACC, and Chief Medical Officer and Executive Vice President Clinical Research of OraPharma, Inc., tracked periodontal records of 82 cardiac transplant patients and a larger group of 962 patients with no history of heart disease. The study concluded that 77 percent of the transplant patients had periodontitis, compared with only 13 percent of the healthy patients.
Book challenges dentists to become more attuned to patients
Cherry Hill, NJ–A dentist refers to a patient as “the root canal in room three.” Another patient is told she needs a filling, which is done right on the spot — making her feel like she’s being shoved through a McDonald’s drive through. A third patient doesn’t even meet the dentist until the last three minutes of his appointment.
What’s wrong with these dental practices? Everything, says Dr. Barry Polansky, a Cherry Hill, NJ dentist and author of The Art of the Examination: Why Patient Care Goes Beyond Clinical Correctness (Private Practice Publications, 2002).
Dentists often get a bad rap, and sometimes it’s well deserved, says Polansky. That’s because many dentists lack key business skills. “Like most small businesses, dental practices are often started by technicians who have been overcome by the entrepreneurial drive,” he says. The result is that many practices are set up to make money through a volume of patients, rather than through long-term, lasting relationships.
“Many dentists feel, ‘I got my license, so I can do this — I can own a business,” Polansky says. “They don’t realize that in order to be successful, they must understand the essence of marketing, which is the creation and maintaining of relationships.”
Some patients, especially those who lack dental insurance, are reluctant to spend money on dental visits. “Our culture has taught us to buy cars for $40,000, but not to spend money on the health of our teeth,” observes Polansky. Using revealing examples from his own practice, Polanksy illustrates how dentists can overcome this roadblock without the patient feeling manipulated.