If you are a GP dentist or a Pediatric Dentist you take on the responsibility for your patients, of functioning as the “gate-keeper” or “dental home.”
You provide comprehensive and often extensive evaluations of your patients’ needs, and from there, along with the appropriate records, create a treatment plan addressing the various and varied needs of that patient. Those needs may cross into every area of dental care, and as well, cross into medical areas, where you request information and clearance from medical providers. And/or, you may refer TO medical providers, having found medical issues in your evaluation that should be addressed by a medical specialist.
In summary, you
A little side note - it is critical that you help the patient understand their findings and pathology, whether TMJD or decay. This is because if they do NOT understand it is their problem, it is all too easy for the patient to expect the dentist to "just fix it.”
There is NO “just fix it.”
There is only a team effort between medical provider AND patient where the provider evaluates, informs, guides, counsels, refers and treats the AREAS OF THAT PROVIDER’S EXPERTISE AND COMPETENCE; the PATIENT attends appointments, consents to evaluation, listens to the information, takes the time and energy and spends the money necessary to follow-up on referrals and treatments.
Do you see? It is not the provider who is responsible for ascertaining the completion of treatment in the face of all odds. (Read recent blog, “Way Too.”) It is not the provider who is responsible for providing the treatment if the patient is not compliant in attendance, following the guidance and instructions of the provider, including self-care, referral attendance, and so forth.
Which brings us to the fact that you as a generalist, gatekeeper, dental home, have the opportunity to study and learn any one or more of many topics, many dental specialty areas. Any and all treatment you provide in any area of dentistry, by law, must be at the level of what is expected of a specialist in that area. That goes for and includes, endodontics, surgery, prosthodontics, implants, orthodontics, periodontics, and pediatric dentistry.
And to have a full life, a resoundingly successful life and practice, and provide truly great care to your patients, you must choose and adapt to providing the areas of care in which you are interested, have fun, can be great, and continue learning and growing. In other words, keep growing and working in your areas of expertise. You will spend much less money on equipment, supplies, staff training, and learning curve time. If you instead, invest in equipment, staff training and learning curve time for you area of “specialization”, rather than all areas, it will cost you much less and you will be much more profitable.
Choose - Make it profitable. Your dental practice is your living. It is your source of income for you and your family.
Choose - Make it fun for you. Do what you enjoy the most, and consider delegating the rest. (Whether another doctor, or staff, you can delegate the rest.)
Choose - Find what you really love and get REALLY good at it. Your practice will be distinguished by the area in which you focus. What does your practice do that distinguishes you from the others?
Choose - and get FREE. An area of expertise and excellence in expertise gives you freedom. Get free of the stress of the parts you don’t like, free of spending the money on so many different courses, so many supplies, equipment, staff training, and learning curves where you aren’t making much or an money while you are learning. Free to discover a main mentor in your area of expertise-to-be. Free to become a mentor and possibly a teacher of your area of expertise. Free to enjoy life. Free to work ON your practice, and not just IN your practice.
Choose and change your life!
Dr Chris Baker
America's most-trusted teacher of orthodontic continuing education, Dr. Chris Baker has practiced and taught for more than 30 years, and is a current or former faculty member of three U.S. dental schools. She is a pediatric dentist, author, blogger, dental practice consultant, and mentor. Dr. Chris is also Past President and Senior Instructor of the American Orthodontic Society. She is based in Texas, USA, but lectures around the world.
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© 2023 Dr Chris Baker