Taking Back Our Patients and Our Specialty
How can 1,700 private-practice prosthodontists compete successfully with 140,000 general dentists nationwide who flood broadcast, web and print channels? Clearly we can’t compete but we can make a difference in the visibility of the specialty if we pool our resources and efforts.
Private-practice prosthodontists are fighting for survival. Ordinary dentists, many unethically masquerading as prosthodontists, are holding on to cases that should be handed over to specialists. Some prosthodontists have surrendered and become full-time academics or insurance-accepting general dentists. Others are staring at the telephone and waiting for it to ring.
The federal government lifting the ban on advertising by medical and dental professionals blew the doors off the referral model for specialty dentistry. Before marketing entered into the equation, dentists filled cavities, took X-rays, performed cleanings and occasionally fashioned a crown, dentures or a simple bridge. Dentists traditionally referred complex cases, more than one crown, and ambitious restorations, to a prosthodontist.
The prosthodontist did the restoration and then cheerfully returned the patient to the referring dentist. Prosthodontists rarely attempted run-of-the-mill fillings and cleanings. Historically, one of the benefits of specialization is being liberated from humdrum dentistry.
With aggressive marketing, dentists began convincing patients they could handle cases of any complexity thereby capturing high-dollar procedures that formerly belonged to specialists. More and more, general dentists are detouring patients away from specialty practices. This trend is not going to stop unless we begin capturing those patients first.
Of the nine specialties recognized by the American Dental Association, prosthodontics unquestionably is the most obscure. Low visibility has been a chronic problem for prosthodontists since the day the specialty was born 50 years ago.
All prosthodontic interest groups, but especially the American College of Prosthodontists, have failed to address the specialty’s low visibility and have been astonishingly slow at responding to opportunities to raise it.
Implant dentistry and cosmetic dentistry should be synonymous with prosthodontics. Instead, any dentist may lay claim to these terms, always at the expense of prosthodontists if not at the expense of patients.
Because many general dentists act as if they are as qualified as prosthodontists, rarely will a consumer hear the word “prosthodontist” coming from a dentist’s lips. The multi-million dollar ClearChoice advertising campaign has done more over the last 20 months to make consumers aware of prosthodontists than have all of the prosthodontic associations combined over the last 41 years.
Ironically, ClearChoice is the mortal enemy of private practice prosthodontists. Private practitioners sink or swim based on how credibly their brand resonates with consumers. Unfortunately, marketing and communications strategies and practice management models are not taught in dental schools or in specialist training. The Doctor’s Entrance of the site is a gateway to a marketing resources tailored to the needs of private practice prosthodontists.
Resources include on-site marketing and public relations consulting, web site development and optimization, hands-on practice management training and our new book on marketing your practice, the only one of its kind, The Million-Dollar Prosthodontist.
FindYourProsthodontist.com has one goal and one goal only – to generate robust and steady business for private practitioners so that we may take back our patients and our specialty. This labor of love has been privately funded, but now we need your help. A successful consumer web site is a costly investment in your future. Please join us.
The Founders of FindYourProsthodontist.com