Corporate Dentistry—A New Twisted Reality

More and more corporate dental offices are opening up in cities and towns across America.  They actively push the “benefits” of being a patient there:

  • Accepting many dental insurance plans
  • Open evening and weekend hours
  • All dental specialties under one roof

On the surface, this does sound like a great place for a patient to receive dental treatment.  However, there are some basic counter-arguments to be considered

These corporate dental practices recruit general dentists straight out of dental school.  Why? Because it’s a “win-win” for everyone but the patient.  The corporations can pay low, cut rate salary to these new dental recruits, who will work late and weekend hours to gain the work experience that they lack coming out of dental schools.  New dentists use this experience as a stepping stone to gain clinical expertise before they open their own private practices.  Who loses out?  You, the patient.  Do you want to see a different new doctor every time you come in for your 6-month hygiene appointment and exam?  Probably not.

These corporate practices do offer all dental specialties under one roof.  But the specialist usually only comes in once a month, because these practices don’t have the case volume to keep the specialist in house full time.  So, if you have a surgical procedure done and there is a complication, who will be treating the complication?  A dentist that just graduated dental school, who has never even performed the procedure in his life?  Are you, as a patient, OK with that?  Or what about the situation when you have a dental emergency and require an emergency dental extraction?  Are you willing to wait for a month until the specialist gets in the office?

Last but not least, corporate practices are corporations—they are profit-driven.  So they up-sale the unnecessary procedures to compensate for the low-reimbursement rates from many insurances.  Example—bone grafting wisdom teeth extraction sites in teenagers.  There is absolutely no clinical evidence of this being beneficial—other than to the corporation’s bottom line.  Another way to increase profit is to do more specialty surgical procedures.  Need to get the wisdom teeth out?  Come to us.  Never mind that the surgeon that day has 17 other wisdom teeth extraction procedures—4 teeth per procedure.  And of course, the patient wants to be asleep—so that’s 17 general anesthetics as well.  Do you, as a parent feel safe that your kid is one of 17 patients that day being put to sleep and getting their wisdom teeth removed?  It should not be an “assembly line” type of dental treatment.  You think I am exaggerating?  No way can someone do 17 general anesthetics and wisdom teeth extractions in one day?  Well,  I used to be a specialist in one of these offices, so believe me, I know.

Written by Dmitry Tsvetov DDS MD