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Corporate Dental

Is anyone frustrated with corporate dental practices?
I have been seeing dental work done by large, corporate practices that seems less than ideal. Patients have told me that they went there after seeing an ad on television and left with much more dental work than they felt they needed and often left with more pain and problems. I recently watched a Nightline episode where they discussed this and they exposed the fact that the owners are normally business men/women, not dental professionals. It is thought that there is more emphasis placed on production and the bottom line than there is for the care of the patient. Anyone else noticing this change in their communities?



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13 Answers

Yes! The dentists are usually new graduates needing to pay for school. They are expected to produce a lot in less time. I can say I’ve seen some of the work and am not impressed…….after some years under their belts the dental work will improve. I filled in at a chain office once years ago. 30 minutes per patient. No patient wanted perio charting because it was an extra $40. I did it anyway (unofficial) to cover myself and ran behind everyday for that week. The office manager did not have any dental experience, but pushed everyone to produce. The OM also made bonuses on what she scheduled……none of the hard working dental employees made bonuses.

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Hi Sue. Yes I have seen this too. These operations run like fast-food restaurants: get them in, get them out. No worries about quality. Quantity is #1. It is difficult to work this way when you have a conscience. Boundaries should be implemented and running these “mills” should be stopped but money talks and with schools producing new dental hygienists every 6 months the “ponds are stocked with fish”. There is always another dental hygienist to hire. Appears that this business model is working for many. Too bad we suffer as do the patients who go there. We are professionals so we tick-a-lock and throw away the key (shut our mouths and find a new job). It isn’t in our code of ethics to talk negatively about these “mills” to patients. It is a sad state of affairs and it is glaringly real and generally accepted. Too bad.

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The Nightline episode I watched highlighted “Aspen Dental”. They have what they call a “hygiene bay”, no separate treatment rooms, just a large room with many chairs, akin to an ortho office. They didn’t discuss how much time each appointment gets, but it did have an assembly line look about it.
I get frustrated when I see the commercials and all of the promises made to the public. “We can give you the smile you have always wanted”, “Our dentures are made in-house, less time spent at the dentist”.
I have always had a bit of skepticism about the offices that do so much advertising and offer things like, “exam, x-rays and cleaning” all for $59. What they don’t tell you is that they will be diagnosing SRP and a mouth full of crowns.
I am thrilled for many of the advancements that dentistry has made, the “new” business model for dentistry is not one of them.

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I am also nervous about this as it seems like it is the way dentistry is going since so many new dentists are graduating with so much debt that they do not want to open their own practices. Hopefully this does not continue!

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I have seen this a little. It is disturbing to me. We see a great deal transfer to our office as they realize really quickly it’s not all necessary.

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Hygienist I have temped in an corporate office…I won’t be darkening their doorway again…standard of care issues

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I am not worried at all, eventually patients will find out. I do what I can to educate people all the time. Whether its in a Walmart tooth brush aisle, or my daily Facebook post about oral care..that I share compliments of KARA RDH ..Keep teaching!

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I have had several patients come from both the local Aspen Dental and Great Expressions saying that they had been diagnosed with perio and told they needed SRP, Arrestin, etc. At first it made me question my own judgment and diagnosis in these cases. Was I really missing perio disease that often? I mean, I’m all for early perio treatment, but insurance fraud is another thing. I’ve since realized that this is a common occurrence with these offices. I think a lot of it stems from not only the fact that they’re being run by non-dentists demanding production over patient care, but also the nature of some of the insurance plans they accept. The reimbursement rates are so low the office can’t make any money without fudging a few perio numbers here and there. Or there are some DMO plans that pay the office monthly per patient instead of on a fee-for-service basis, which I would think would encourage some shady practices. I don’t know about everywhere, but local to me, there are some insurance plans that are ONLY accepted at the corporate offices (which should tell you something about the plans, IMO.). BTW the Frontline story on Aspen Dental is pretty interesting.

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I am a little concerned with this myself since the new job I am about to start is at a corporate dental office. We have a daily production goal that we are supposed to meet but honestly it seems like a reachable goal as long as most of the scheduled patients show up. There shouldn’t be a need to run around like crazy trying to see 2-3 patients an hour or try to “sell” unneeded treatment just for the money. I will know what its really like once I actually start work in a few weeks so fingers crossed it isn’t a nightmare office!

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My 18 year old niece called me, she had been to Aspen and was told she needed 4 quad perio scale and several fillings. I asked her what kind of numbers did she hear with the perio charting. They didn’t do a perio chart. They took FMX and then took her in a room and told her the x-rays showed moderate perio disease and this is what she needed and how much. She couldn’t afford it. She came to my office she bought her x-rays and then I did a perio chart. 100% healthy with no decay. How do they justify this to the insurances with no perio chart? or do the make one up?

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RDHMares, oh dear! Might be helpful for your niece to contact the board?

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YES Sue Halverson!! RDHMares your niece needs to contact the State Board! Things won’t change if the problem isn’t addressed to the proper authorities!

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I worked 1 day a week at a certain aspen. the rdh there was doing SRP on EVERYONE …. and charting 7 where it was a 4 …. an doing arestin on every “pocket”…the dr was on his way to a different office so he left that prob for the new dr to deal with….she and the office manager bemused very nicely month after month. I refused to treat any pt she rec srp for.

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