Wednesday, December 10, 2014


A patient made a comment to one of my staff members a few weeks ago that has stuck with me. Never one to shy away from drama, I thought I would write about it, in hopes that I can verbalize my frustration in a positive expression of love, happiness, and butterflies.

[Releases colorful butterflies for dramatic flair.]

I appreciate every single patient who walks in our door. That’s the honest truth. Whether here for a child prophy or an implant surgery, I love them equally. It is, after all, their continued support year after year that keeps us afloat and able to treat our patients with the proper equipment, technology, and materials necessary; to hire and employ enough doctors and staff to keep patient appointments running on schedule; to open extra offices to better serve our metropolitan area; to market our practice and break down barriers to entry for new patients; to hand out toothbrushes—quality ones to boot—to every patient. You get the picture.

Are the butterflies still flying, or should I release more?

So, that comment…

“The crown is going to be HOW MUCH?! I might as well just hand it to him in cash to pay for his nice car.”

[Waits a second for typing filter to flip on.]

Ahem. Um, no. That insurance-mandated fee for said crown is actually half of my normal office fee. It covers the chair time for my assistant and me; the operatory equipment that we are working with; the chair with heat and massage that you’re sitting in; and the handpiece, burs, scrubs, gloves, masks, instruments, impression material, anesthetic, X-ray machine, computer, and TV that is showing “Oprah.” THAT is what your crown is paying for. 

Man, I could use some more butterflies. I’m totally out.

Again, I love all of my patients. I wouldn’t be here without them. But c’mon, really? Dental offices nationally operate, on average, at 71 percent overhead. In our case, with the addition of a new office a few years ago and a brand spankin’ new one this year, we battle to stay under that figure. We appropriate much of our positive income to outfitting these offices with the “latest and greatest.” We have chosen to maximize the patient/doctor experience, rather than pocket our extra earnings. We do this because we truly love what we do. We enjoy walking in every day to a clean office with happy, smiling staff members—three of whom had the opportunity to purchase their first homes this year. Talk about exciting!

So to my lovely patient with the beautiful new crown, know that your crown fee covered the full spectrum—equipment, staff, power bills, and new houses. You should be proud to know how far reaching it was. I know I am.

Butterflies for everyone!!!

Donald Murray III, DMD

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