Oral Health Group

Re: Creating the Desire to Buy: Winning Patients’ Discretionary Dollars and Increasing Case Acceptance, Martin B. Goldstein, DDS. Fall, 2006 DPM

December 1, 2006
by Dental Practice Management

I am a pediatric dentist in my 32nd year of practice. I have practiced in three provinces in Canada and traveled to remote areas of Canada to treat children in need.

I have been in Kelowna in private practice for 10 years. The disease rates I am seeing now in children surpass anything I have seen in my 32 years of practice. My pediatric colleagues in other centres in Canada are having similar experiences.


I do not sell dentistry. I provide a healthcare service to children in need. Perhaps I am fortunate. I give my patients what they really need not what they or their parents want. This is done thru a process of discovery with the parent and patient. Open ended questions I and my staff ask give the parent the opportunity to explain the problems as they see them and to help us discover what the family values and how they view health.

I strongly disagree with Dr. Goldstein’s assertion that dentistry in fast becoming a discretionary or elective purchase. It is not in my office. Rather, the treatment I provide is medically necessary. Articles like those by Dr. Goldstein may be what your readership desire but I do not find them enlightening. Rather, I find them disturbing. For dentists like Dr. Goldstein, dental services are obviously discretionary — people don’t need what he is selling. The services he provides are not healthcare services. They are cosmetic services. To many, dentists have become high-tech estheticians, hardly worthy of the title “Doctor.” Try telling the mother of a three-year-old with advanced ECC that keeps the child awake at night and prevents them from eating that dental services are elective or discretionary. That is my day — every day!

Dr. Goldstein also speaks of co-diagnosing with the patient. Please! This is nothing but cheap sales manipulation. It is one thing for the patient to tell the dentist what he or she does or does not like but that is hardly diagnosis. That is why the dentist is called ‘Doctor”.

In summary, you are doing dentistry no favours with articles like that. You are harming and, dare I say, cheapening the image of a proud and important profession. First and foremost, dentistry is a health service, not esthetics

Alan Milnes DDS, Dip Paed, PhD, FRCD(C)

Kelowna, BC

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