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Who Does My Dentist Work For?

December 27, 2023
Who Does My Dentist Work For?

Is my Dentist a DSO or an independent practitioner?

It seems Private Equity Investors have been corporatizing more and more sectors of American life - corporate influence continues to grow into our everyday necessities such as housing and education and its sphere of influence has been especially evident in medicine and dentistry. At the grocery store we are greeted with self checkout, and in housing, we have become very familiar with the concept of a community’s Home Owner’s Association. At the doctor’s office, you have probably noticed that your experience has become less and less personal with the doctor examining less and typing on a computer more. Scheduling has become more automated and reaching an on call doctor has become more elusive. But does corporatization affect the care you receive and the relationship you have with your dentist? And how might decisions on a business level affect the choices made available to you regarding dental specialty care?

Our everyday life is replete with experiences making purchases from corporate groups. Corporatization has allowed for on-demand consumerism where we can get meals from our favorite restaurants delivered directly to our homes and has made life very convenient in this way. But more and more, many of us have never known the experience of a local owned family businesses where a high level of personalized customer service sets the tone. It’s the independent business owners that are most incentivized to provide each customer with care because each interaction builds upon their personal life’s work and reputation. Unfortunately, this kind of personal investment can be missing along with accountability within corporate franchises where we often find accessibility and personalization replaced by many layers of management. It’s our opinion that corporate models certainly provide convenience and speed, but in medicine and dentistry they cannot reliably deliver quality with a personal touch, and there’s nothing more personal than your healthcare.

How do I know who my dentist works for?

It may not be readily disclosed to you if your dentist practices independently or is supported under the corporate umbrella of a Dental Support Organization (DSO). DSO Franchises generally have healthy and robust advertising budgets, so for some, their names and brand may already be recognizable to you. If you’re wondering if your dentist is independent and is the sole manager of his or her practice, the name of the business can sometimes be a clue. Does the practice have a unique name with the name of the dentist or dentists listed, or is the name generic sounding and opaque with regard to who the dentists responsible for your care are? Do you have a relationship with your doctor, or do you find that at every visit there are new faces greeting you and a new doctor to get acquainted with? Does your dental office have multiple locations around a region or nationally? Corporate managed practices often have high turnover of new graduate dentists and staff and some large practices have branches all over the country. If this is a concern of yours, you can ask the office staff if the practice is affiliated with and managed or supported by a separate corporation - or if it is owned and operated exclusively by the doctor(s) treating you.

Independent Dentist vs Corporate Dentistry

When dentists are independent, each doctor is free to make decisions based on what you and the doctor feels it is best for your care. There is no outside pressure to fulfill arbitrary patient quotas and production targets each day, and there’s no pressure to suggest a particular procedure based solely on profitability.

Corporate models generally promote the practice of high-volume dentistry, more is better, with an over emphasis on maximizing profits made possible by seeing larger and larger numbers of patients per day. In these offices it can become difficult to receive the customized care, quality time, and personalized attention patients at an independent office are accustomed to. It is often easier for an independent dentist in a traditional dental practice to provide the time and deliver the individualized care you genuinely need. The traditional private practice isn’t burdened by outside influences from a centralized front office and the pressure associated with having to meet arbitrary volume targets and production quotas.

With most private dental practices, you are treated by the same dentist every time you visit and you develop a rapport with your provider. You are known and seen. The experience is enriching for both the patient and the doctor. At a dental office managed by a corporate body, you may see a different dentist at each visit and feel somewhat invisible and concerned that your continuity of care is suffering. The dentist you saw at your last visit may not even any longer be employed by the franchise, since some corporate supported offices tend to have higher turnover rates due to doctor burn out in such high pressure environments where the line between profit and standards of care can unfortunately get blurred. Company executives set revenue goals, and these financial targets filter down to corporate managers overseeing local offices, even to the point of pressuring for unnecessary procedures.

What if I need Oral Surgery?

In corporate practice models, there can also be pressure to only refer patients for specialty care within the organization. This can limit patient choice when choosing a specialist for services such as oral surgery. Often times corporate practices employ a traveling surgeon to provide services in-house. In these cases the surgeon may only be at the practice on a limited basis making post operative care and follow up difficult when there is a complication. Additionally, the surgeon employed may not have the credentials of a board certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon. When it comes to specialty care, especially surgical and anesthesia care, we urge patients to research their options and seek a second outside opinion if they are feeling limited with regard to choice. When surgery and anesthesia is necessary, that is not the time to cut corners.

What are the Benefits of seeing an Independent Dentist?

Here are some reasons why you may want to seek care from an independent doctor:

  • Patients over Profits- Independent doctors do not have to answer to a corporate entity and its shareholders.
  • Quality over Quantity- Independent doctors are not pressured by a corporate office to see more patients in less time.
  • Doctors are free to refer patients anywhere- Independent doctors are not dictated to about where they can refer patients in need of oral surgery.

Lucca Oral and Facial Surgery is a private and exclusively doctor owned and operated specialty practice limited to oral and maxillofacial surgery. Our practice models the patient centered experience of a traditional private family practice coupled with the sophistication of a state-of- the art oral and maxillofacial surgery and ambulatory anesthesia center in the heart of a world class city.

To learn more about our office, call 617-300-0345 or contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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Lucca Oral & Facial Surgery
185 Dartmouth St, Suite 403
Boston, MA 02116
Tel: 617-300-0345 | Fax: 617-993-6970
Monday | 8:30am - 5:30pm
Tuesday | 8:30am - 5:30pm
Wednesday | 9am - 1pm
Thursday | 8:30am - 5:30pm
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