Tag: insurance

Has Dentistry Failed Kentuckians?

Poor quality care seems to be “accepted as the norm” by most patients and dentists. If you have been reading my blogs then you know I am always pretty straight forward with my opinions. I tell it as it is – no beating around the bush.

So, when I received an extra large, beautiful, glossy mailer from a large local dental chain touting that they are “the area’s most trusted name in dentistry” (how do you determine that anyhow? Maybe we need to request their survey…), I had to bow my head and say a little prayer for all the patients I have seen coming form that chain to my office to fix botched dentistry

Trust is earned through years of meticulously high standards and impeccable morals. Below are some some facts about Kentucky a well as a short story written recently about managed care here in Kentucky. You be the judge…the most trusted name in dentistry…

  • In 2001, about half of Kentucky’s children had decay in their primary teeth.
  • In 2004, Kentucky led the nation in missing teeth among people age 65 and older.
  • Some 27 percent of Kentuckians of all ages had lost six or more teeth to decay or gum disease, compared to nearly 18 percent nationwide.
  • 46.8 percent of children ages 2, 3 and 4 had untreated problems such as a cavity or a missing tooth. That’s more than twice the national average.
  • Nearly 40 percent of these children had never seen a dentist.


PP: What are the market forces that have resulted in private equity-owned chains providing dentistry?

Heath: These days, when dentists get out of dental , they often owe anywhere between $200,000 and $300,000 dollars. Dental  is actually more expensive than medical . So they come out with these huge debts, in a lot of cases they can’t really afford to start their own practice.

These dental chains hire people, a lot of the time right out of dental school, and they pay fairly decent salaries and they have a bonus system where the more work you do on a patient the more you get paid. That’s true for a private dentist as well, but the difference is that these companies are owned by private equity firms, and they’re managed in a different way. You have people who are not dentists coming up with a business plan that’s based on metrics. They try to get new patients in who haven’t been to the dentist in a while, and they’ve already calculated how much revenue the average new patient should generate.

If you happen to go in and you don’t really have anything wrong with your mouth and you’re a new patient you’re not fitting the model. That creates pressure for the dentists to find things that are ‘wrong.’


Parting Thoughts

If you can’t participate in a quality group plan – either a preferred provider plan (PPO) or a Dental Health Maintenance Organization (DHMO) – the best way for most people to come out ahead on dental expenses is to pay for everything out of pocket. Brushing and flossing regularly, switching to an inexpensive electric toothbrush, getting professional cleanings every six months and going to a dentist who does high quality work that lasts for years can be the most effective ways to save money in the long run.

Read more: http://www.investopedia.com/articles/pf/07/dental-insurance.asp#ixzz2H0Wbjb8h

There is unfortunately too much information on the web about the poor state of dentistry in Kentucky. I personally feel that any company that touts they are “the most trusted name in dentistry” here in Kentucky should take a closer look at what quality dentistry really is and how we can elevate the standards here in Kentucky.

Ideal Dentistry has taken a different approach, as actually recommended by the article above. We focus on you, the patient, and “fix” the mouth, not just breaking teeth. We get to the root cause of the decay and pain. Our approach fixes the gums, preventing gum disease, attacks bacteria that aid in decay, and treats functional issues of the mouth that result in wear in tear of your teeth. We stand behind our quality 100% – delivering the same quality care to you as we do to our own family. 

If Kentucky wants to keep being one of the worst dental health States in the USA, then keep it up: lower fees, lower quality, grow managed care offices that tout to be the “most trusted name” and ignore nutrition. BUT, if Kentucky wants to become healthier then I suggest we do exactly the opposite of what has been done! Let’s elevate quality, reduce the influence of managed care and put the focus back on the patient, not the insurance company.

For those patients looking for a better solution, Ideal Dentistry is here. When you are ready to upgrade to a healthier option, then come visit Ideal Dentistry and escape the dental cycle. We are serious about your smile.

Keep smiling.

The Dental Cycle – What is it and why you want OUT!

You see the dentist for your bi-annual cleaning and check-up, and a cavity is €œdiscovered. You schedule an appointment, go in and get your cavity fixed, and then wait till your next cleaning and check-up appointment, at which point a new cavity is discovered and you schedule an appointment to get it fixed. Repeat this for the next foreseeable future you there you go; you are in the dental cycle.

Frequently this dental cycle is closely related to your insurance benefits. Meaning, you see the dental hygienist two times a year because your insurance pays for two visits a year. You get one exam per year because the dental insurance company pays for one exam per year. And you get a certain number of fillings per year because, you guessed it, that is what insurance companies pay for. Who is your doctor? The insurance company?

Dentists often get stuck in the dental cycle as well, drilling and filling so many teeth each day that they forget that people are attached to these teeth. It is a business, and unfortunately many dentists need to focus on the teeth to make a living, not the people. Time is money, and the cheaper the dental treatment is the less time a dentist can spend on the person. Quality is directly related to time, as dentistry is actually a quite demanding profession requiring concentration and skill, and of course time. Here is where the dilemma really begins. The payment that a dental insurance company gives a dentist who is in-network is directly related to the average cost of dental treatment in that dentists area. Kentucky has been ranked nearly dead last in oral health for many years now, and you guessed it, average dentistry here is cheap! Dentists keep trying to get more business by undercutting the competitions prices, further driving down their profit which requires the dentist to do more work on more teeth to make a living. Insurance companies constantly adjust the fees that these dentists have to subscribe to, reflecting the average cost of dentistry in their area. Quality just goes out the window. Who do you think looses in this scenario? You do. This is why you tend to get higher quality dentistry in areas such as Florida, California and New York, as even the average insurance dentist get paid enough from insurance companies to deliver better quality care.

This is the main reason most quality dental practices are out-of-network with insurance companies, especially in Kentucky. The quality practices focus on getting you out of the dental cycle, not just treating the resulting decay. For a dentist to be able to do this they need to have a good understanding of why you are getting decay in the first place. This mostly is due to acid from nutrition, medications, lack of saliva or neglect bacteria. Once the reason for the decay is discovered treatment can begin, not any sooner.  Each patient has a unique situation and a different approach is required.  This takes time, and as we learned from the previous paragraph, time is a luxury that does not exist in insurance driven practices.

The dental cycle is a downward spiral that takes is toll on your teeth and body. It starts with a small filling and can easily end up down the line with dentures/false teeth. Along this path your whole body is suffering and you are constantly visiting the dentist, not to mention the costs involved are astronomical. I strongly urge all patients to find a dentist that understands this dental cycle and focuses on them, not their insurance plan. Only then can you have a future free of constant dental worries and a smile you love!

If you are sick and tired of the dental cycle and are ready to take control of your health, then Ideal Dentistry is what you are looking for. Discover the underlying cause of your dental problems – remember, the mouth is a window to your body’s health. We can not treat one without the other.

Keep Smiling.