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The Value of Education to Patients in Dentistry

Angie Gribble Hedlund DMDby Dr. Angela Gribble Hedlund, DMD

It didn’t seem like a very logical time to open a new dental office.  Whether you want to call it a recession or an economic downturn times are tough everywhere. Unemployment’s up, the cost of gas is up, and for most people dentistry is down.  For 16 years, I practiced in a world-renowned dental office with almost every specialist in dentistry.  I enjoyed a state-of-the-art facility, an in-house laboratory and a 50 person support staff.  I made a pretty good living, especially considering that I usually practiced about 3 days a week.   But the Lord works in mysterious ways, and experience has taught me that where He leads, it’s best to follow.

So last summer at age 42, I acquired a rather sizable loan from the bank, built out an office space, and hung a sign over the door with my name on it for the first time.  In the beginning I felt like I was “drinking out of a fire hose” because there was so much to learn.  I had never been responsible for payroll, balancing the books, arranging advertising, creating a logo, writing copy for a web site, and hiring employees.  I was way out of my comfort zone.   In addition, I was asking my new employees to have faith in this venture with me and trust me with their family’s livelihood, as well as my own.

Although I had concerns about the economy affecting people’s ability to afford good dental care, I have found people continue to value complete dentistry and are grateful for excellent care.  They enjoy having a doctor who takes the time to establish a personal relationship, who evaluates their needs and provides a way for them to have the best oral health possible.  Even patients who were new to our practice could see the difference in the exam I was taught to give through my experience with Pete Dawson and this Academy.

A comment that I hear frequently is, “I’ve never had an exam like that in my life!”  They see the difference, and this earns the right for us to explain what we feel like the best course of care would be to maintain their oral health for the rest of their lives.  It is different than a 5 minute exam in the hygiene chair.  It is the systematic gathering of information, taking the time to study that information, and having the patient back to review a well-thought-out treatment plan that we can explain clearly using models and photographs.

In addition, the method that I was taught to communicate the benefits of treatment has been incredibly effective with our patients.  I have been given the confidence through my time of study with the Dawson Academy to explain the treatment in a way that creates true value for the patient.  And people will make a way to do what they find valuable.  This has been a gift that has created success in my new practice even in times like these.

Did you like this article? You might also like The #1 Step to Improving Your Dental Practice.

Dr. Angela Gribble Hedlund is a senior faculty member. She has practiced dentistry in Atlanta since 1994 and lectures on esthetic dentistry. She has received her Fellowship in the Academy of General Dentistry; this is an honor held by fewer than 2% of dentists in the country.