A Toothsome Grin

Going to the dentist doesn't have to be as painful as pulling teeth. Or so believes the founders of Dental Design of Kedron in Peachtree City, Georgia.

Brought to our attention by Decent Marketing's Katherine Stone, the dental office reportedly provides "several amenities to patients, including a complimentary juice bar with fresh fruit, full-body massage units on the treatment chairs, flat-screen televisions with DVD players to watch movies while being treated, and iPods for your music listening pleasure."

Seemingly opening for business late last year, the business sounds like a dental service that makes clients smile — not wince.

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  • David R. Boag DDS

    As the owner and aesthetic dentist, a practice like mine is not for everyone. The fact is that there IS no practice for everyone. There's no such thing! Although we don't close our door to anyone, there are certainly people like Kelleen who couldn't care less about amenities like those at my practice. And their feelings are valid. Someone whose most important value is price will never be satisfied at my practice, because we're not about price. We're about value--what you GET for what you pay.

    I never meet any patient in a treatment studio. I always meet them first in a consultation room. Why? To determine what's important to that particular person. We'll actually talk in there for 20 to 30 minutes...or more...before ever even entering a treatment studio. When was the last time a doctor or dentist gave YOU 20 minutes to talk? I have actually come to an agreement with more than one patient during that time that this practice did not meet their values, and we agreed that we shouldn't be their dental practice. At the end of one such visit, the patient took some of my cards and thanked me for my honesty. She wanted to tell some of her friends about how she was respected here, because she believed that her friends might value how I do dentistry more than she and would give them my cards. To this day, I can't think of a compliment that I hold in higher regard. We would rather have people's respect than their business. I've worked in practices where this was clearly NOT so.

    The reality is that some of the things that we do take hours, not minutes. Doing a smile makeover, for example, is a complex process that I've got to get right--not MOSTLY right--every time. It can't be done right if the dentist is rushing to get you out of the chair, so rather than rushing, we let patients be comfortable during the process and enjoy it as much as possible. We give them something to think about other than what I'm doing, which I'll admit is not the most pleasant thing in the world. Why SHOULDN'T I do this? What would you want if you were going to be in the chair for 4 hours straight? If the answer is that you'd never want a smile makeover, it's the right answer. You may not need it. few do. But those that do it for themselves, we can see the change in their self-image almost instananeously, and it's a very moving and powerful thing, for them and for our staff.

    One thing that was NOT touched on by the reviewer is that the screens aren't just for entertainment. By using digital photography and digital x-rays, I don't have to SELL anything to anyone. All I have to do is present their issues. Patients can see their issues for themselves. When was the last time someone...ANYONE...SHOWED you what your upper back teeth look like? And I can show patients their x-rays blown up to a 19" screeen size to show them issues we both can now clearly see. Have you ever tried to actually read one of those little x-rays? Not easy.

    It's about the experience.

    The truth is that I rarely have a problem keeping a patient once they experience our style. But Kelleen is right...it's not for everyone, and that's OK. Porsche's aren't for everyone either, but few can deny that they give drivers a better experience than almost any other car made. The difference is that a LOT of people can afford high-quality dentistry if they choose it for themselves. Most people are driving cars that cost more than the average smile makeover does. Fewer can afford a Porsche.

    The quality of experience, which BTW is congruent with the quality level of our dentistry, is what we are selling. It's what sets us apart from other offices. That's why it markets our practice well.

    Thanks for the discussion. I welcome others' comments.

  • Kelleen Stine-Cheyne

    I'd rather spend my money some other way - not on a dental media experience which would ultimately be added to my cost. Get me in, get me out - as inexpensively and painlessly as possible! Well, maybe the massage chair would be okay.....

  • Steve Portigal

    At age 36, I had my first dental filling earlier this week. I was fairly apprehensive, the only time I had experienced a novocaine injection it was the most painful thing of my entire life. I was quite pleased with this experience; they had made use of a (new?) technology - rather than a typical syringe, they used some sort of slow injector gun that let the novocaine numb as it went in deeper, but also didn't force a huge amount of fluid in at once.

    I don't have enough experience to know exactly how new or widespread this particular piece of technology is, but it was fanstastic. I didn't really worry too much about listening to music or watching TV or whatever while the work was going on, it was all very comfortable, and that was my goal.

    Ironically, at my previous visit I experienced the new digital X-Ray (a USB-device instead of a piece of film) - unfortunately the thing I they crammed into my mouth was much bigger than those folded pieces of cardboard and much harder and obviously hadn't been designed by someone with any sense of ergnomics.

    My point is that for the patient, focusing on the core experiences - how these things touch, hurt, don't hurt, etc. - is the fundamental opportunity to create the best experience.

    "Amenities" are really missing the point. They may help, but there's opportunities to do more with the core aspects of the experience.

  • Margot Cathcart

    This is certainly an interesting trend. Entara Dental Media has just launched a new service, DentaVu! to support this. DentaVu! faciliates all of the public performance rights and provides dentists with a tool that builds an intra-office television system that entertains, informs, and educates patients on everything to do with their health and the practice.