Those that know me well know that I love podcasts. From the local true crime series, to interviews with professional runners, to recordings of my favorite Minnesota radio personalities I am always listening to podcasts. My current favorite is called “The Drive” with Peter Attia. Peter is a physician whose practice focuses on the applied science of longevity. To be fair, I only understand about 25% of what he talks about (he is much smarter than me), but the stuff I do get is great information. I recently listened a compelling segment of an episode where Dr. Attia discussed how the public should go about choosing a primary care physician. I couldn’t help but see the parallels in how patients should choose their general dentist, so I thought it would be a great topic to share. I hope you can see the parallels, and how we strive to be the best choice for our current and prospective patients.
This resonates in two ways as it relates to our dental practice. In one way, I like that our schedules aren’t so jam-packed that we can’t get a patient in for an emergency appointment or a procedure for several days or weeks. I once worked in a practice that saw upwards of 80 new patients per month. It was busting at the seams, we were so busy. The practice operated a high-volume model, offering discount after discount, but in turn forced the dentists and hygienists to run like crazy all day. We choose to tailor our practice so that we have adequate amounts of time to see the patients in our practice in a timely manner.
Availability looked at another way, Dustin and I both try to be very available to our patients from a communication standpoint. We call or text our patients the day after their procedures, and patients can always reach us on our cell phones after hours. Sometimes talking to or texting your dentist can give you a lot of peace of mind if you develop a toothache, or chip a tooth in the evening or on the weekend.
Affability is the quality of being easy to talk to. Those of you reading this that know Dustin know he can talk to a brick wall, so he definitely wins in this category! However, we both pride ourselves on truly listening to our patients. This allows patients to feel comfortable enough to express all of their concerns, and have all of their questions answered.
This is definitely the most important category as far as we are concerned. Unfortunately, it is also the one that is the most difficult for patients to truly evaluate. Most people choose their dentist based on the two categories I’ve already discussed. While those are very important I would not sacrifice ability in favor of either of them. Dustin and I spend an inordinate amount of time trying to constantly improve our skills and enhance our knowledge of dentistry. We are a profession that is constantly evolving and so then, does the way we practice.
In addition, we both serve as teachers at The LD Pankey Institute – a non-profit facility of continuing dental education in Miami, Florida. Each year, we spend a week teaching other dentists about our favorite facets of dentistry. It is challenging, and often humbling work. However, teaching forces us to be extremely knowledgeable and confident on our subject matter. In short, it makes us better dentists.
In both medicine and dentistry, advocacy is helping patients navigate their way through the system when going through extensive treatment. When a patient requires a procedure that is beyond our scope of practice, we work with wonderful specialists to ensure we achieve the best possible clinical outcomes for our patients. Just like your primary care physician doesn’t do orthopedic surgery, we work closely with oral surgeons, root canal specialists, periodontists, pediatric dentists, and orthodontists when a procedure falls outside of what we spend the majority of our day doing. However, we are committed to guiding our patients through every step of this process. Because we work so closely with our specialty teams, communication and scheduling for our patients is seamless. In addition, our specialists know our philosophy well, so there is never any confusion over our goals or expectations. Often times when planning a complex case, we will meet after hours to review photos and x-rays, to make sure we are on the same page as far as treatment goals and timelines. For example, if a patient is going through braces, having implants placed, or periodontal surgery, we take extra time to give the specialists background on the patient, the goals of treatment, and each anticipated step along the way. We want our patients to know that we are advocating for them throughout their entire treatment process, even if that involves treatment by another dental specialist.
We know that we may not be the dental office for everyone. However, we strive to provide the best of each of these pillars in our practice every day. If you choose our practice, we commit to spending time with you, being easy to talk to, having the best clinical skill and knowledge that we can, and to advocate for you through every aspect of your dental treatment. Head over to https://peterattiamd.com/ama01/ to hear the entire episode… you may just find yourself a new obsession!