Dentistry is changing forever. Are you ready?
Updated: May 18
“Influential people are never satisfied with the status quo. They’re the ones who constantly ask, ‘What if?’ and ‘Why not?’ They’re not afraid to challenge conventional wisdom and they don’t disrupt things for the sake of being disruptive; they do it to make things better.”
I am a troublemaker with the best intentions.
In High School, you had to pass TWO separate English classes in order to graduate.
My marks in sciences, math and phys. ed were "average"...or maybe better. However, English dragged down my ENTIRE GPA.
Being a reckless kid and more focused on MAKING MONEY than school - I felt compelled to challenge my educators. To the point where I had a 40% average in this subject and needed a 90% or better on my final exam in order to pass AND graduate high school!
This is the problem with trying to "change the system"! My submitted homework actually ALWAYS received excellent grades - yet the "F" was awarded as the final mark since I "didn't follow the rules".
I would write complete essays on WHY I shouldn't have to write an essay. The teacher would give me "A" and "outstanding" but an "F" for not following correct protocols.
I was too busy PROVING my theories to pay attention and finally realize that I HAD TO follow societies rules or I would simply not earn the degree I needed.
This is how I really learned my first sales skills. I told the teacher that I would apply 100% effort to raise my marks and study and shut up and follow the rules. LISTEN!
I not only got EXACTLY 50% mark and graduated, I won an award for "most improved"! The teacher gave me the award at graduation and mentioned he didn't know how I pulled that one off.....I was so tempted to make a speech as I walked up to get my award to a standing ovation, but was quickly deterred by the principal to keep moving.
I soon realized by "not following the rules" that I had totally SCREWED my intentions of getting right into University. Bad planning meant my overall average was below 70% and in order to get into the classes I wanted, I would needed a higher average - it was ALL because of my 50% English class grade!
Screw it. I was already doing pretty good at the time. In 1984 I was already making close to $30 an hour (today's dollars) and working at least 40 hours a week PLUS time and a half for overtime. I had many side hustles. Always buying, selling, looking at opportunities...
Then my Dad called and said "come to university in Saskatoon...you can work at the dental supply house for a little extra money while you attend..." and off I went!
Pony Express is famous for dramatically improving communication times between Oregon and California. We all know the story of this huge investment (start up) that lasted all of 18 months before TELEGRAPHS made them bankrupt. a FAMOUS Bankruptcy of a genius idea at the time!
There are SO MANY examples of well established businesses that got completely UPENDED - not always because of competition. Often because of technology. Often due to circumstances like war.....or a war against disease.
Dentistry, and healthcare LOVE to try to build moats around what they have established. A system that needs a decade of research and trials and evidence before even allowing a minute amount of that to somehow slip into existence.
Like Digital Xray which has been around for decades...yet there are still offices today buying a peri-pro and film. Like Cad Cam same day crowns which are well beyond being proven to be a perfect delivery model for a patient with accurate results and affordability but still only have maybe 8% market penetration. Digital scanners, yet we continue to take impressions because they are "proven" since 1902. Bulk Fill materials. Self Etch products, or now BIO compatible products.
In my 36 years, dentistry has evolved quite a bit. Yet at the same time I still sell the SAME materials and watch the SAME techniques employed and being taught as when I started. Just like the English teacher I rebelled against using principals that were twenty years old!
How many more decades of evidence do we need before we start to think that maybe someone or something will UPEND the entire business?
Was it already happening in Orthodontics? Was it an orthodontist (nope) who thought that maybe using digital scanning and printing could provide a better vehicle to a larger amount of population in a secure manner? After that was created a decade ago and MANY STUDIES had to come out to PROVE that it wasn't a good way to go. Yet, it continued to grow. It was an approximate $2 BILLION dollar market last year and is expected to TRIPLE in size in the next few years.
Now the same people who tried to dis avow the original technology are trying to dis avow the newest model of affordable treatment...Smile Direct to Consumer which last year earned about $500 Million of sales. What they may be proving is that we should, perhaps, consider what PEOPLE actually want and work harder to make it easier, safer and more affordable.
Instead we like to focus on the problems. All the things that could go wrong. We spend MILLIONS of dollars to PROVE that too!!
Healthcare has been disrupted. There is opportunity for our business model to shine!
Every single one of these ideas could THRIVE in dentistry. Some may need more validation, others may be disprove. As an industry, we QUICKLY need to get moving! I will give a brief rundown of ideas I have seen or had over the last few weeks.
Testing. We have a PERFECT delivery vehicle to STOP a pandemic. To prevent many diseases. Quick asking me "who will pay" - find a way to make it affordable and necessary...they will come.
Check out THIS TECHNOLOGY as an example of what may be possible. Apply this technology to our current situation of trying to EARLY DIAGNOSE ASYMPTOMATIC disease (covid as an example)....and think of where YOU might fit in. Just you. Let the other businesses around you worry about themselves. Be the disruptor.
DIGITAL - If you still don't believe it's wise to reduce chair time and need to recall your patient several times to finish a crown with goop...it's ok. Just keep doing what you are doing. Otherwise maybe start to think that patients would rather come ONCE than TWICE for surgeries and treatment "let's get this over with, my time is valuable". If you have gone that far, have you considered printing appliances? Partnering with a lab for FAST delivery? Printing your own aligners? How you can REDUCE costs from your new efficiency and deliver and even BETTER product in the manner your customer asked?
PROTOCOL - Can we more efficiently and safely provide services my considering even more risk reduction and an even better patient experience?
-Hepa filtration in facilities for the safety of the people using the environment day after day
-Greater reduction of aerosol using devices both intraoral and extraoral (could this not be built into a dental unit or cabinet?
-A Central Biofilm system that runs through ALL waterlines that ALSO reduces the bioburden of the actual aerosol we create. IE: a safe disinfectant in the ultrasonic scalers and drills that reduces the risk while you are working.
-Faster appointments using new proven materials to reduce chair time labour
-More efficient use of technology
-SHARING data in a universal, anonymous fashion to provide Evidence Based protocols the world can use (to prevent future pandemics too!)
-Saliva testing and blood testing as a service during regular check ups for prevention of disease
-Immune system health and ability to fight disease starts with Oral Health
-Testing during appointments for other disease
-Sharing information with other health care providers and working together
-Dentistry ties to cardiovascular disease, airway and sleep disorders, diabetes, acid reflux, HPV oropharyngeal cancer, pediatric airway, lip/tongue-ties, so much more
New business models
-Co operative business models
-Multiple doctors in single locations
-Larger practices in more convenient location
-More convenient hours of operation
-Online bookings, reviews, marketing
-Universal guidelines for IPC
-Consultants within the associations to help these businesses LEARN and IMPROVE all aspects of business
-allowance of marketing in a "do no harm" to people rather than the moats that have been built to protect established business
I've written many an essay since my failed High School Experiment. Evolved my thinking. Continued to challenge my authority (sorry bosses) and learned my WHY.
Are you the Disruptor for dentistry? Can we do this together? I'm in