Are The Good Old Days Of Dentistry Now Gone Forever?

In 1984 a patient told me that he believed that Dentistry was the last bastion of free enterprise.

This comment from him came to mind while I was reading a thread on a Dental Forum about the proliferation of Preferred Provider [PP] Dental Practices in Australia and how profitable that model of dentistry appears to be.

On the forum, the angle seemed to be that PP Dental practices are profitable and ARE a viable business model.

My reading, or my take from the poster was that those who are anti- the PP model need to take a step back and review the model again, because based on his early days and also the experience of one other friend of his, these two instances were proving to be successful.

The biggest conundrum in the current dental landscape was brought up by a dentist posting his thoughts which I believe are valid concerns.

His concern was that as a Dentist working in a PP Dental practice he was getting paid less for doing the same procedures as a dentist working in a non-PP Dental Office.

This is a really valid point.

However, with time, the validity of this point will diminish.

Who knows how long that period of time will be?

If the number of PP Dental practices proliferates and the number of non-PP Dental practices reduces then working at the lower fee will become the “usual and customary” norm.

I mean, if that happens then most dentists will be working at the lower fee, and only a select few will be working at the higher fee.

And so with scarcity, the higher fee will become the exception.

At the moment, there will be a difficulty in transition for some dentists.

For some dentists who have owned or worked in a non-PP dental practice and then left and gone to work in a PP dental office, then there is an adjustment that they need to make mentally.

Because all of a sudden the fees that they were charging previously are now reflected as lower in a PP office.

And so someone is judging their worth as a dentist to be less.

I bet it is tough.

If you were used to producing $4000.00 a day of dental treatment in a non-PP office then now that same treatment may only be valued at $2200.00

Can you live with that?

Some can and some cannot….


Thirdly, when there is insurance involved, the Insurer gets in between the provider of the dental treatment and the recipient of the dental treatment.

Patients decide their treatment based on rebates, and annual limits imposed by third parties. And they do not decide wholly on need and urgency.

Let’s take it out of dentistry to show you …. imagine needing a double mastectomy and your insurer saying:

“You’ll get more money back if you can delay the second mastectomy into the next calendar year”

The thought is offensive, yet similar parameters and modalities are accepted as normal when it comes to teeth and dental.

I know when there are only two parties involved in the diagnosis and treatment it certainly is a much nicer way to practice.

Both models of Dental Office can exist side by side in society, so long as we do not submit to a “divide and conquer” mentality.

Only the percentages of each model will vary, depending upon market forces.

Sadly, big business cannot divest itself from that “divide and conquer” philosophy.

There will always be those with insecurities who hide in big business and entertain themselves and fuel their febrile egos by trying to crush their smaller opponents with unfair advantages and processes.

And you don’t have to be a B-Grade Magician to see this…

There will always be Dental Practices where patients seek out quality treatments and exceptional service in a relaxed and comfortable environment and will be happy to pay for those services.

And there will always be a need for dentists wanting to own and operate those Dental Practices.


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