A recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald caught the attention of people across Australia. The man in the article, Marc, went to a corporate dental clinic. He was quoted $1200 for dental treatments. As someone who is meticulous about his dental health, Marc was shocked and sought a second opinion elsewhere. This dentist informed him that only a small filling was necessary, a difference of $1100.
As a dentist, I was surprised that someone could receive such vastly different treatment plans. Dentists can have different philosophies in practice. As a consumer, you may get slightly dissimilar plans because of these differences. But it certainly shouldn’t be $1100!
So, why were Marc’s recommendations so dissimilar?
To answer this question, we must go back to the early 2000s. Traditionally, Australian dental practices were owner-operated. The dentist who owned the practice typically worked in the practice, hired associates, mentored them and hired staff who were locals.
They had strong ties to the community, were in charge of their business, marketing, book-keeping, daily running and belonged to the Australian Dental Association. The owner/operator/dentist was governed by a body called AHPRA and had to practice dentistry and run the business within the strict guidelines of this board.
At the turn of the century, corporations entered the dental field. They bought up hundreds of clinics and made them into chains that would look, feel and run identically. They had a centralised hiring and firing department, centralised accounts, call centres, IT support, and marketing.
No doubt, this is a cheaper way to run multiple practices. But as a result, there was no connection with the community. The corporations aren’t governed by AHRPA, so there are no restrictions on marketing their patient care, deals with dental suppliers or patient care.
The ultimate responsibility of a corporation is to its shareholders. The ultimate aim is to raise income to keep shareholders happy. Often, an undercurrent of pressure to keep up revenues is present.
What Makes Us Different
In contrast, privately owned dental practices like [PRACTICE NAME] are not answerable to shareholders. We are a private dental practice where the principal dentist is the owner/operator. We are governed by the dental board and AHPRA. We are a member of the Australian Dental Association. We support the local community by hiring and training locals. But most importantly, all our dentists, their work and clinical capability are constantly supervised by a senior dentist. Our aim in practice is to establish lifelong relationships with patients.
The clinical philosophy at [PRACTICE NAME] is to practice dentistry and treat every patient as if we were treating our own mother or father. We want to enable our patients with accurate information with regards to the state of their oral health, offer all available options to patients and let them decide what they would like for their mouths.
Getting Back to Marc
Good on you, Marc, for seeking a second opinion from a privately owned dental practice. The sad fact is that Australia is fast heading in the footsteps of the United States of America when it comes to corporatisation of health care. But the few private dental practice owners will hang on as long and as strong as we can. We never forget why we became dentists in the first place, which is to help people and practice dentistry with patients’ best interests first and foremost.
You can reach us by phone or email to schedule your appointment.