A great smile is priceless, says one dentist. Working with a dental services organization makes it that much easier for dentists to offer the services necessary to make this happen.
By Laura Thill
If for no other reason, dentists should offer their patients cosmetic dental services because “it’s what’s best for the patient,” says Paul Kim, D.D.S. and Northeast clinical director for Great Expressions Dental Centers. Whether patients require cosmetic treatment for health reasons, or desire it to improve their appearance, if they want it, dentists should offer it “so that patients can live the life they want,” he says.
From teeth whitening and veneers to crown lengthening and total smile makeovers, cosmetic dentistry is on most patients’ radar at one time or another, he says. These are the types of services that help patients gain confidence, both in the workplace and in social settings, he explains. “[Dentistry] is not simply about treating tooth pain and decay,” he says. It’s about a patient’s total wellness, which is why it’s so important for dentists to “have this discussion” with their patients, he adds. “At Great Expressions Dental Centers, we are fortunate to be able to do it all, from preventive care and orthodontics to cosmetic dentistry and oral surgery. We offer this, simply because it is what is best for the patient.”
When dentists incorporate cosmetic dentistry into their services, it sends patients a message that they care about their total wellness, Kim continues. “And, the investment is very small compared with the return,” he says. “You can’t put a dollar amount on this.”
Indeed, watching their patients leave the practice with a terrific smile can be extremely rewarding for dentists, he continues. “I had one patient who [was embarrassed about her teeth] and covered her mouth when she spoke. After I treated her with Invisalign®, she became a totally different person. Her confidence rose and her attitude changed, and she landed the new job she wanted.”
Being part of a larger group, such as a dental service organization, makes it that much easier for dentists to offer services, such as cosmetic dentistry, that extend beyond the traditional drilling and filling, says Kim. As members of a group practice, “they can reach out to other dentists and specialists within the practice if they have questions,” he says. In addition, group practices provide their members with support and mentorship, he adds. “These usually are robust, such that dentists at any level have the opportunity to be mentored by senior dentists in their area,” he says. This can range from office visits by mentors to lunch-and-learns, continuing education and side-by-side technique training. Great Expressions also supports access to study clubs, where dentists can meet and discuss various topics, such as cosmetic topics, and a national doctor panel – a panel of eight dentists who lead the group practice, set the standard for dental care within the practice, assist with recruiting and advise on cosmetic dentistry and products among other areas.
“Dentists should present cosmetics to their patients just as they would present any treatment,” says Kim. “They should present it as what’s best for their patients.” Showing patients before and after photos can have a great impact in helping them see the difference cosmetic services can make, he says.
Of course, the issue of cost inevitably comes up, he continues, and it’s helpful when dentists can offer patients finance options. “Great Expressions accepts all insurances, which [accounts] for a lot of our patients,” says Kim “For those patients without insurance, we offer a discount dental plan called Smile Protection Plan, which saves them between 30 and 35 percent.” And, patients always have the option to work with a third party financing company, he adds. “The most important thing is for patients to get the care they need.”
Cosmetic dentistry encompasses a number of services, including the following:
- Dental bridges
- Gum lifts
- Bite reclamation (Patients with years of excessive wear to their teeth due to grinding or acid reflux can alter their vertical dimension.)
- Tooth reshaping
- Teeth straightening (e.g., orthodontia or Invisalign)