I know, I know. I told you I wasn't going to talk about money again for awhile. Has it been awhile?
Lately, I feel like I am getting some flak for "being expensive" or because "all I think about is money." But I feel like I am a fair, conservative dentist. I try to be the guy that saves people money.
Sure, my exam is thorough and when we are done taking a full mouth series and a Panoramic (which I don't charge for), the exam can be in the $225 range. But I think I am doing a pretty good exam. Perio charting (which most 50-year-olds have never had done), oral cancer screening, looking around, looking at their bite and teeth and joints. We have a sit-down conversation in a consultation room. Patients get my time. Isn't that what patients want? To feel like they are being cared for and not rushed? Or do they just want the $55 x-ray and exam done by the big teeth corporations? I think they want the former.
After I do a thorough exam and find some cavities, I tell them that they have some restorations that are broken (I show them the big broken filling with the intraoral camera; I am not making things up here). And I think that I can do a filling and restore that tooth to good again. No, I don't think you need a crown (which most dentists would do at 500% the cost of a filling).
My fillings are expensive. But are they really? I do a better job than the schmo down the street (if you are a dentist down the street from me, I like you; I am just being creative with my words). I use the BEST products. The filling I do is superior. So I am $20 more than another dentist. Maybe it is $50. Didn't I just tell you that most dentists would put an $800-$1,100 crown on this?
So when I hear from my staff (I never it hear it from the patient. They tell my assistant the person answering the phone) that all I care about is money. WHAT?! Are you fricking serious? I go to the best continuing education. It costs money to have a nice facility and good staff members. And all this costs about $20 more per filling.
Look, I get that money is a big issue. I get that dentistry is expensive. I know. But I feel like some people are killing the messenger. I am who I am. I am the dentist that does really nice work and hopefully the dentist that people go when they want to like their dentist and feel cared for. I am not a regular dentist, and it will cost a bit more. But for patients to come here and say that all I care about is money? Well, that hurts.
I am going to stretch here and tell you I am like the Hilton. The Hilton is a beautiful hotel. They have awesome beds, great sheets and pillows. They have great staff that say, "It is my pleasure." They have things in place to make you feel so good. And after a stay there, you feel special. Then you check out and say, "Man, that was a little bit more than I meant to spend."
Then the next time you try a bargain motel. You don't have a very good night’s sleep. You are just a number there. You get the bill and don't think anything of it. But you start to think, "Remember that Hilton? Yeah that was really was nice."
You can't blame the Hilton for being more than you wanted to spend. We as dentists feel like we are being thorough and find stuff. Then the patient always thinks we are trying to find stuff that doesn't exist (you aren't doing that, are you?).
It might be a bad time for them, I know. But if you look at me through a microscope, you are going to find warts. And maybe I used to just brush it off. Maybe now I am a bit more sensitive to criticism. I don't know.
I am trying to make this place worth the $225 exam and the extra $20 filling. It would be easy to just lower the price and work faster and make people feel a little less special, but I don't want to do that. I want people to say, "Remember Dr. Gammichia? Yeah, he really was nice." Or even better, "I love my dentist and I will stay there forever."
I am not bitter. Just sensitive, I guess. I will keep at it.
Have a great weekend.