Fifteen Minutes of Shame

sandra-bullockThis week, the news reported that actress Sandra Bullock called the police to report an intruder in her house.  It took FIFTEEN MINUTES for the police to arrive at SANDRA BULLOCK’S home.  She locked herself in her room, which has a SAFE DOOR.  Below is a recording of her 911 call.

Most of us don’t have a vault door for our bedrooms (like Ms. Bullock does).  Many of us have family spread out in multiple bedrooms.  And, if you can’t defend yourself effectively….  15 minutes….  well…  By then, the police will simply be gathering forensic evidence around your lifeless body.  Or maybe the intruder will have mercy on you and let you and your children live.  Either way, the police will not be there in time to protect you.  And, you should know that they have NO OBLIGATION to protect you, even if they do arrive in time.  Read that last sentence again and click the link to learn more about that.

Are you ready?

burglarSandra Bullock’s intruder was a mentally disturbed stalker.  Most of us aren’t celebrities who are more likely to have stalkers.  While the probability of a home intruder is relatively low, Continue reading

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Aspen Dental Keeps at the Creepy Ads

I just caught this ad today.  With no further ado…

The ad seeks to “normalize” FREE examinations and x-rays.  It’s a “normal” thing to say, right?  And, the receptionist wants to marry the dentist?  Really??  But, yeah… Aspen Dental is “fixing dentistry.”  Uh-huh.

I’ve written about Aspen before.

And, here, too.

What do you think?  Comment below!

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Posted in Current Events, Editorial, Marketing | Tagged | 17 Comments

Changing Lives Again

thank-you-scriptI love what I do for a number of reasons.  I like the combination of engineering, biology, physics, and art that goes into restoring teeth and smiles.  I like that we can eliminate a patient’s pain, usually in a single visit.  And, I like that our efforts can literally change lives for the better.

I’m always touched when a patient takes the TIME to go that “extra mile” in showing his or her appreciation for what we do.  They pay us for our services, of course.  And, that should be enough, right?  But, some patients are compelled to go further and thank us in a number of ways.  Sometimes it’s baked goods.  Sometimes it’s a hug.  Sometimes it’s a nice card.  And, sometimes they even take the time to write their heart-felt thoughts.  I got this card and letter this week:

Dr. Mike, Jo-Ann, Sandy, and Marcy,

letterI woke up this morning thinking about how blessed we were to have found your office.  I was thinking about how stressful it was worrying about Mary and all of her dental issues before she became a patient of yours. 

Finding your office was truly a blessing.  If we had stayed at her previous dentist office, I don’t know if I would have survived the continual problems and stress that came along with having a dentist that didn’t want to hear or understand what I wanted for my beautiful daughter. 

Every person in your office has played a crucial role in creating the beautiful, perfect smile that my daughter is so very proud of.  It makes my heart so happy seeing what a difference your entire team has made in our lives. 

Dr. Mike, I especially want to thank you for being so patient with me.  I wanted certain things a certain way, and you never once questioned me.  You went above and beyond to make it happen, and happen it did!  Against all odds, Mary’s Maryland bridge is as solid as ever.  I don’t know that you will ever fully understand what an impact you have had on our lives, nor could I ever thank you enough.

Forever grateful, The Smiths.

This family has gone out of their way to thank us before.  Before I remade her Maryland Bridge, I did some bonding.  I blogged about it previously.  Here is a sequence of photos demonstrating the new Maryland bridge: Continue reading

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Posted in Case Presentation, Practice Management, What Happened Today | Tagged , , | 11 Comments

Putting Out Fires

Some days, I feel like I’m the dental version of a fireman.  On Monday, I saw a new patient who had been referred to me by a colleague in Ohio (who knows me through the Dentaltown message boards).  The patient is a “snow bird” who spends his winters in Florida.  It happens a lot, as it seems there is a rule that most patients up North eventually end up in Florida.  I share many patients with my northern colleagues.

First Fire

The patient, a 75 y.o. male with a history of multiple myeloma, had a chief complaint of a loose bridge.  It was implant-supported with abutments in the position of #9 and #13.  Interestingly, rather than pontics, there were crowns on natural teeth in the positions of #10 and #11.  There is a pontic #12.  So, it was combining natural teeth and implants.  Except, the natural teeth were no longer really part of the equation (as you’ll see below)

The patient was planning to return home to Ohio in a couple of weeks.  Normally, I’d recommend replacing the screws with new screws (and I told him so).  The old screws have been stressed cyclically and are prone to breakage.  But, he wanted a quick fix, and I thought I’d just tighten the existing screws enough to get him home to Ohio.  And, so that’s what I did.  I recommended that he see his dentist ASAP when he gets home.  I also mentioned that the entire bridge may need replacement.

He’s baaaaack

Yesterday, the patient called to tell us the bridge came out completely.  Rut-roh!  I knew the screws did not likely loosen themselves all the way out in a couple of days.  And, I was right.  Both screws broke off in the implants.  Oh, crap.  I saw him this morning, and this is what I found.

Here's what was under the four splinted crowns.

Here’s what was under the bridge.

Continue reading

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Posted in Case Presentation, Practice Management, What Happened Today | Tagged , , , , | 22 Comments

A Loaded Gun Is the Safest Gun.

loaded-0004

Say “whaaaaa?”

The title sounds counterintuitive, I know.  Indulge me for a moment.  Let’s dissect the notion of a loaded gun being the safest gun.  It may not be as crazy as you think.

First, let’s review Colonel Cooper’s Four Rules of Safe Gun Handling (cut and pasted from another post):

  1. All guns are always presumed loaded.  Even if they are not, treat them as if they are.
  2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.  (For those who insist that a particular gun is unloaded, see Rule 1.)
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.  This is the Golden Rule.
  4. Identify your target, and what is behind it.  Never shoot at anything that you have not positively identified.

I thought it was unloaded!

Loaded-Glock-23

A Glock 23 without a magazine. Does that mean it’s unloaded? NOPE!

Every so often in the news, we hear about an inaccurately-labeled “accidental discharge” of a firearm.  There are no “accidental discharges,” only NEGLIGENT discharges.  Many of those who have experienced a negligent discharge have been known to say, “I thought it was unloaded.”  And, THAT is the problem.  These folks treat the gun differently when they THINK it’s unloaded.  And, then…. BANG!

See Rule #1!

But, even if they see Rule #1, some people think they know it’s unloaded, so they relax.  What if they KNEW it WAS loaded?  Would they relax and play loose with the rules?  Would they point it at their friend?  Would they have their finger on the trigger (See Rule #3)?  Probably not.  I hope not.  But, when they THINK they “know” it’s unloaded, the rules seem to matter less.  And, that’s when bad things happen.  BANG!

One time, at the range…

loaded range-0004When I’m at the indoor range, I always take a moment to periodically step back out of my booth to observe the other shooters.  I pretend to be taking a break…. crack my knuckles…  stretch.  Are they being safe?  Are they observing the Four Rules?  A couple of months ago, there were two guys sharing the booth next to me.  It appeared one was a local while the other was a visiting friend.  They were sharing a pistol.  Nothing wrong with that.  It’s fun to share this sport.

The local guy had just finished firing at his target.  When he stopped, he turned around to chat with his friend.  The only problem was Continue reading

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Are You A Dentist or THE Dentist?

Seems like a strange question at best and an ego-driven rhetorical question at worst, right?

Mandelbaum!  Mandelbaum!  Mandelbaum!

“So, you think you’re better than me?”

I couldn’t help working in a Seinfeld reference!

What do I mean by the title of this article?  I was thinking about how most of my new patients referred by my website end up on my website and then in my chair.  I often ask those patients if they remember which search terms they used.  Often, they tell me they were looking for something specific… a specific service or a specific type of dentist.  They weren’t looking for A dentist.  They weren’t looking for ANY dentist.  They were looking for THE dentist (who met some specific criteria).

Who are you?  Who, who?  Who, who?

Yes, there are many prospective patients looking for A dentist who: Continue reading

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Posted in Editorial, Marketing, Practice Management | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

How Do You Tell a Patient Her New Crown Must Be Replaced?

cerec-crownA family that was in my practice moved out of state (Iowa) several years ago.  They recently returned and became patients in my practice again.  First, the husband came in, as a tooth was bothering him, and he had been told it needed treatment back in Iowa.  The tooth needed a crown, and he asked, “Can you do it it one visit?”  I replied, “Did you get a one-day crown back in Iowa?”

My wife did.  Do you do them?

No.  I’m very familiar with the technology, but it’s just not right for my practice.

Why not?

It has its place in dentistry.  But, I prefer lab-fabricated restorations.

And, he seemed satisfied with that.  We proceeded with his new crown.

Along came Sally (not really her name)

Yesterday, his wife returned to my office for an exam and to get back into the hygiene recall system.  We got her recent x-rays from Iowa by email.  I noticed the new crown on tooth #18.  She told me it’s been sensitive ever since it was placed (less than a year ago).  She also asked, “There’s a dark line at the bottom.  Is that a problem?”  I replied, “That could be a number of things, let’s take a look.” Continue reading

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Posted in Practice Management, What Happened Today | Tagged , , | 16 Comments

Do You Have the Balls to Be Great?

ballsThis is another quick and dirty post inspired by a discussion in a Facebook group.  The group is based on the idea of having a FFS (fee for service) practice by design.  One member was concerned about the FFS business model, because she is surrounded by a lot of practices competing on price….

Our demographics:  office is surrounded by chains and PPO driven practices all marketing free X-rays, dirt cheap cleanings, Saturday hours.  The local patient base shops for fees.  The local dental chains (2 of them within 2 miles) will do anything for a buck, regardless of the long term outcome for the patient.  This is the kind of competition that we have to live with.  I am not throwing in the towel, just sharing some of our reality.

And those patients that do go to the chains, often end up in our office paying the higher fees.  But the tide of mediocrity, the Walmart culture, is formidable.   We are outnumbered.

Being “outnumbered by mediocrity” is a HUGE opportunity….  IF you aren’t mediocre.  Instead of competing with them, “hit’em where they ain’t!”

Now, of course, just as everyone THINKS they he or she is an excellent driver, most dentists claim to be “excellent dentists.”  But, ARE YOU?

Time for a reality check:

Continue reading

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Posted in Editorial, Practice Management | Tagged | 22 Comments

Random Thoughts of the Day

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks.  This will be a quick and dirty blog article.  No pictures.  No fancy editing.  Just what happened this week and what I’m thinking.  GO!

Thought #1:

It all started with a seminar…

Last week, I attended a local 3-hour presentation by my friends from New Patients Inc (Howie Horrocks and Mark Dilatush).  I’ve known these guys for around 15 years, or so.  I’ve also used New Patients Inc (NPI) for various marketing projects.  They are my “go to” guys for marketing expertise.

At the presentation (to a small group), Mark and Howie remarked that I had heard their material before.  I said, “Yeah… but, I’m stubborn, and sometimes you have to beat me over the head to get through.  So repetition is good for me!”  And, yeah… I HAD heard it all before.  But, I still get something from it, and I invariably walk away with an idea to implement.

Just one “pearl” is all I need.

One of the things they talked about was website marketing – one of MY areas of “expertise.”  A hallmark trait of NPI is that they have DATA to back up their assertions.  They studied which factors or things interest consumers when it comes to choosing a dental office.  I won’t go through the list here, but one of the highest ranking factors was “technology.”  Consumers like to know about the use of technology in a dental office.

One of the most common “technologies” that are featured by dental offices is digital x-rays.  I do not use digital x-rays in my office (for a number of reasons).  So, it did not really occur to me (until my epiphany at the NPI presentation) that there is more to “technology” than digital x-rays.  So, I went home and immediately went to work on crafting a new page for my website just about the technology I do use.  I came up with the list and then expounded on each technology in terms of PATIENT BENEFITS.  Patients don’t care about why WE like technology.  They only want to know “what’s in it for me?”  That’s a VERY important point!  Remember who the audience is.

They don’t care which technology you have… just that you have SOME technology.  And, we ALL do!  So, make your list and begin writing about how it BENEFITS patients.

Along came an 87 year old…

On Monday, I had a new patient Continue reading

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Posted in Marketing, Websites, What Happened Today | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Stranger (Danger) in Plain Sight

Last night, in the news, they reported about a man entering Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and asking for a doctor by name.  The story then continues that the stranger shot the doctor twice and then killed himself.  The police arrived “in seconds”…  But, to no avail.  Unfortunately, it was reported this morning that the doctor did not survive his wounds despite the hospital’s best efforts to save him.

What the news has not reported is what happened between when the stranger asked for the doctor by name and the deadly encounter.  I believe these details are VERY important.  They are so important, that I just had a pow-wow with my staff about it.

How did he find the doctor?

Who did the stranger ask (about where he could find the doctor)?  What did that person (presumably hospital staff) say or do?  Did the staff say something like Continue reading

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Posted in Personal Security & Safety | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments