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aspen dental/corporate dentistry

I’m a recent graduate for my dental hygiene program as of yesterday. I applied for a hygiene position at aspen dental. I know there are strong opinions out there, BUT I realize that the job market is tight, and with minimum experience, I figure I’ll get my foot in the door somewhere (as long as it’s ethical and provides a high standard of patient care). I know there are some strong opinions about Aspen Dental and these types of places, but I’d like to get some advice from those who have worked in these types of environments. Pros and cons? Anything I need to be alerted about? I spoke with the office manager today and their dentist and assistant AND hygienist are leaving, so it would be me, a new dentist, and a new assistant (Seems a little suspicious to me…) I have done quite a bit of research and people either seem to love it or absolutely hate it. Thanks for all the advice in advance!



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17 Answers

Honestly there’s upsides to corporate dentistry and downsides. I do not work for aspen but I do work for a company that is very very large and is considered corporate the nice thing is the CE and training most will pay for it and provide it, also w/ numerous offices it gives all clinicians the chance to reach out to a larger community of other clinicians. Career advancements are possible as well such as hygiene mentoring, and you also will occasionally have a hygiene mentor to help you improve your skills give you tips and tricks. Payed benefits are nice and payed vacation as well as the opportunity to bonus and to relocate easier. Another great thing is you can pretty much expect the standard of care across the board to be the same, digital X-rays, computerized charting, advanced ocs, diagnodent, intra oral photos, full perio charts, arestin and laser for Srp. Down side is that yes they expect you to produce a certain amount monthly in order to be considered a worthy hygienist where I work is $16,000 monthly and a great hygienist is $20,000. Plus all offices have time guidelines such as 40 min prophies and perio maintances, 70min new pt exams meaning X-rays, photos, ocs, ohi, diagnodent, full perio chart, existing restorative & a prophy, plus fl2 if the pt is healthy and not Srp as well as exam and tx plan, as well as scheduling their next recare apt,also the time it takes a pt to fill out paper work if they don’t arrive early cuts into that 70 mins greatly sometimes which can be very hard to do. It’s possible to do but it can be stressful. Someone is always looking at your #s too for everything you produce everything you do and how long it takes you to do it as well as case acceptance and if your patients are reappointing. As I said it has it’s pros and it has it’s cons but so does private practice like the fact most do not offer benefits which out pocket is expensive.

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PBS Frontline did a story called “Dollars and Dentists”. Part of it was about Aspen Dental. See if you can find it to watch, it was interesting.

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Shenanigans, do you feel you are able to give your patients the best care possible under those conditions? That is my fear…with so much emphasis placed on production and the companies bottom line, is unesessary treatment being done, are you able to be thorough in the time allocated?

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I had made another comment about corporate dental Aspen in particular. I will make this one shorter. My 18 year old niece was dizgnosed with perio disease and need for 4 quads of perio scaling. There was NEVER a perio chart done and they told her they could see the disease on x-rays. She came to me with the x-rays and she was HEALTHY 100% not even gingivitis. My concern for you is just starting out they you will not get what really needs to be done to determine treatment. Production is the only goal even if you have to compromise. I have not worked at Aspen I only know what I have seen on this one occasion but have heard many stories like this. Quick turnover in any office private or corporate is always a red flag. But you won’t know till you try it for yourself..it could be a valuable learning experience in the long run. I wish you luck, the job market is tight…Just try not to stress do your best.

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I recently landed a job as a hygienist for a new Aspen location. I’m a fresh grad also and I am grateful for a job at all. 40+ hours and benefits sounds way better than another job I was offered (24 hours and lower hourly) and I am ready to be busy. Advice to you (and to remind myself) is to talk with them about how you want to schedule patients (they gave me control over my schedule) and to not be scared to voice your opinion. You are educated and full of knowledge… Don’t be afraid to use that.

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I work for Aspen dental. As far as offices TX planning srp when it is not necessary….i see it happen in small offices also. There are just a lot of Aspens. It all depends on the office just as with non corporate offices. I see perio overlooked so often. I work with a dds that trusts my judgment so if they have period they get the appropriate tx. I am able to order what I want/need. The bonuses are great. Pay is eh but I make up for it with my bonuses. It is fast paced for sure. I tell the office what I want scheduled for my apt times. Of course I don’t take advantage of that. I Over Book A Lot So The Schedule Looks Daunting however, Because Of The Population We serve, Half Dont Show Up So I Usually Have Plenty Of time To do whatever I need. I don’t usually take x – rays so that’s nice. I have A lot of help from my DA’s. It’s taken a while to get to where I am now. When. I first started I had a lot of prophys that should have been SRP and the patients weren’t happy with the price changes however, I had to really educate the patient. I do my best to never do something that the patient doesn’t need and not to overlook bleeding or slight boneloss. It’s easy to rush through and pretend it’s not there. It’s difficult when you’re pressed for time but I always try to think what if it were me. Multitasking is certainly a must! We see 2-10 new patients a day and i try to period chart them all so they get out in for the right hygiene tx on top of my schedule and sometimes i do zoom also while all of this is going on. I hope this helps.

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I work for a corporate dental office. It all depends on the doctor you work for. Yes there are production goals set for the office and you as a provider. But as long as the doctor has good ethics and values, it is no different than any other job. I have full benefits, 401k, PTO, paid CE yearly and I get paid on production so it is to my benefit to get my patients to schedule their recalls and do what they need. We never do anything that is not needed. It is all about educating your patients and being honest with them. Dr.H told me from day 1 to do what my patients need and the $ will follow. I also have control of my schedule as they look at me as a provider and let me make my own decisions. Our office tries to keep to ourselves as much as possible although we have to communicate with our regional manager daily. I say give it a try. You might love it!

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You should try it for the experience. You may like it, but with my experience filling in at a chain office you probably will be looking for another job within the first few months. Good luck.

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I personally have seen several cases of these chains treatment planning unnecissary procedures, both perio and restorative. One that really stands out and infuriated me was a 6 year old child that they said needed four ss crowns when there was absolutely no decay present! Redicilous. My ethics would not allow me to work under these conditions.

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I’m on my 6months at Aspen. So far, so good. Communication is key. If you feel a certain way about something, talk with dr and/or OM. There are things I do not agree with… I do not do them but I back it up. I am pretty much in control of everything in my schedule (diagnosing and times). You can adjust times as needed (more or less). Just remember, it is YOUR license. You do your own hygiene diagnosis, you have to back it up when insurance companies want a narrative. You and your dr should talk and see if you are on the same page. My dr and I are still working through some things.
So far I love it. It does get crazy… Especially with the way they do new patients. I also have pretty a whole new staff.

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Sorry for the typo’s…..autocorrect

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I work for Aspen & so far it’s not bad. There are things I like & dislike, but that’s true for any job. Every Aspen office is not exactly the same…as stated in other posts, a lot depends on the dentist & the OM. That is true for any dentist you work for. I have temped in many different offices (private & corporate) & have seen private practice dentists who I would never want to work full time for. There are private practice dentists who run a 40 min sched on recalls & 60 min on new pts & some that even run double hygiene. There are private practice dentists who make their hygienists produce/sell so much per month & are very eager to fill & drill even when there’s no decay in order make themselves more $ (I’ve seen it). They can also tell you to go home when your sched falls apart because they don’t want to pay you if you aren’t producing any $ for their practice. At a corporate at least you have someone to go to (manager, regional manager, etc) if you feel unethical dentistry is being done…who would you go to in private practice? All that said, their are also great private practice dentists who truly care about their employees, are ethical, pay well, & also some who offer benefits…among other great things that go along w/ working in a good private practice office. Again, private or corporate, YOU are the one who has to be ethical & can leave anywhere you feel is not practicing ethical care. I say try it! Get to know your doc & manager & see how it goes…if you don’t like it, look for something else!

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Also, from what I’ve seen, Aspen tries to get rid of employees who are not ethical…it’s just not always a fast process. So again, if you hear of one office having problems w/ that- it’s not all (just as would be the case for private practice-one bad dentist or hygienist can cause people to think they all are). And another great thing about Aspen is that people w/ perio disease actually get diagnosed & treated! No perio pts kept on 6 mo recalls until they have such bad perio that they have to go to a periodontist or lose their teeth! That is a very common practice for, not all, but a lot of dentists-to just keep most pts on their 6 mo “free cleaning” sched & brush perio under the rug until it has progressed to a certain point. That’s not a very high standard of care in my opinion! I feel Aspen has a very high standard of care-for restorative, perio, & denture pts!

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I think the office will be a good place to get experience for your resume if nothing else. Its probably personal preference if you like it there or not since there are pros and cons to private practice and corporate offices. I just accepted a new job at a corporate office and I am hoping for the best. My biggest worry is not getting enough time per patient to do a thorough job. I am willing to try it for the experience and hopefully i will like it. If you don’t you can always look for another job while you are at your current one.

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I’ve worked for Aspen and Heartland dental care and in private practice. I’ve worked every position in a dental office except for being the dentist. I think working in Corp is great for a new graduate bc they push your limits and give you great opportunities for continuing ed and networking. I have to say I’m tired of people who think corporations diagnose everyone with perio. Perio isn’t black and white. Also, I’ve seen tons of patients from private practice that should’ve had perio diagnosed years ago, but were considered prophy. When it comes down to it what matters is if you and the Dr you work for agree on diagnosing and treatment planning.

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thank you all for such wonderful and honest answers!

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I’m sort of in the same boat as you Annevai. I am a new grad who gained a 1 day/week per-diem job at a private practice I truly love! However, I am competing against another per-diem hygienist and in the fall the office is going to decide who to keep for a FT position. Although I feel my chances are decent, I do not want to sacrifice other options either, although it is still my ideal option.

I just received a call from an Aspen Dental offering FT with benefits to me and I chose to take the interview, which I have later this week. Knowing the same concerns about these offices as you, I’ve done a lot of homework and it seems most clients are satisfied at this location. However, I’m nervous that I will not agree with their “method” of production and selling dentistry. THIS is my solution:

I hope to negotiate to keep Fridays off to work per-diem at the other office as well (not sure if it’ll happen, but worth a shot!!)

IF they accept this idea, I will absolutely go ahead and give it a shot. HOWEVER: I plan to stay true to my heart/how I was taught and that is just to do what I know is right for my pt and not what the production goal is. If I disagree with something, I will make it known. I will NOT sacrifice my license just because I am new and happy to have a job. I would rather give up FT w/ Benefits at an Aspen to wait for better things elsewhere. Just stick to your documentation. It is key! If you can sleep at night, then you’ve done everything in your power to remain true to YOU.

That’s my solution.. We will see how it plays out!

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