71% of dentists would not recommend Dentistry to their children. But what about the rest of us?
In a recent statistic released by the BDA, 71% of dentists would not recommend the profession to their kids.
If so many of us don't like it, then why are we doing it?
Actually, I love it because I get to do the type of treatments that I want to do, and not what the NHS hands me.
If you work predominantly in the NHS then you have to do dentistry by those rules, you are forced to cut costs and therefore not do your job properly.
This can be soul-destroying!
Imagine that you could do the kind of dentistry that you love doing, and you knew that there were plenty of patients who are actively seeking what you like to do.
The good news is that there is plenty of supply, but they just have not heard about you, and maybe your perception to the world could be refined so that you can attract more patients who want the complex stuff.
Having focussed on this for many years, I have been free from the NHS and I actually love what I do, but this is easy for me to say, because I have some reach on social media, right?
If I was starting from scratch, then I know what I would do.
It's very easy to get comfortable in an NHS job - the jobs are easy to get, the pay is not bad initially, and in the early days, I had no family to support, so life was fine.
But as time goes by, the money is not enough, and you have to work longer and harder to make the same money, this takes a toll on your health, especially your back and neck, not to mention your mental health.
It's not fun if you're working in a deprived area and every day your patients are coming in with mundane problems because they have left things too long, and they just want the cheapest way to fix them.
I suspect that a good proportion of the 71% of dentists surveyed are in a similar situation.
So what would I do?
Well that's easy, there are three key changes I would make very early on.
1. Learn how to do a really good consultation.
These days I spend 1-2 hours of chair time in each consultation I have. The only time I spend 1 hour is if I have had a detailed zoom call with the patient before they attend.
I recently had a meeting with a friend, who said that most people cannot spend that time with patients.
To which I replied: and that is why most people will not get to do the treatments that I do, and get the big case acceptances that I do.
It has very little to do with experience, I teach these methods to the young dentists who I mentor, and they are getting the same big cases, and some of these guys are 2 years out of uni.
The dumb thing is that before learning a "new" way to do consultations - I thought I was already really good at it!
Even these days, when I suggest that I can teach someone to carry out a great consultation, most people think that they are already really good at it.
2. Learn key clinical skills.
Learn to do a smile design, learn how to take good photos, learn how to do short-term and complex ortho, even if you don't want to do it, learn about it.
Your patients will come in with complex issues and you need to be able to see these issues and then explain them in the most easy-to-understand way, and be clear on the solutions.
Only if your patients have a clear understanding and a clear solution will they say yes to your big treatment plan.
If they don't understand that they have a wear problem, why would they agree to a big plan to rebuild the dentition with porcelain restorations?
3. Learn about marketing.
These days it's about social media, but this is not the only cog in the wheel.
Marketing psychology has not changed for years, but the mediums are always changing.
There used to be a time when being on TV was really hard, now anyone can get screen time with thousands of people who are already interested in what you have to sell.
Marketing is a process to identify people who may be interested in what you do, then building a level of trust with them, and when they are ready, they will come to you, ready to buy.
This is how you fill your pipeline with high-value clients.
When I was young, I cheated. I found a mentor to help me do all of this stuff, and I have found that 1-1 mentoring is by far the quickest way to achieve what you want to achieve.
I used to have clinical mentors, I have a business mentor now and I even have a mentor to teach me how to do tricks on my mountain bike (actually true!)
I initially set out a goal - I wanted to be a world-class cosmetic dentist.
I thought that if I was doing cosmetic dentistry, I would be able to be creative and artistic in my work and earn a good living.
So I went on courses to improve my cosmetic dentistry skills and I found a mentor who has already done it.
There are plenty of "gurus" out there who have never set up a dental practice, those guys and girls were not for me - I wanted to learn from someone who has actually done it.
The cost was a lot - about £15k for a year.
My decision was hard. I didn't have the money. I could either keep doing what I was doing (and I was trying hard but not getting the results I wanted).
Or I could sign up and hope that my future earnings would pay for my mentoring.
Luckily this paid off... but not as quickly as I wanted it to!
Change is hard. And slow.
But these days I can easily afford that mentoring, and I love what I do, so I would say I won in the long term.
Most dentists are not winning... according to the stat above.
These days, I dedicate a lot of time to mentoring younger dentists, and if you would like to find out if this kind of thing is right for you, then please click on this link to take you to my mentoring page to find out more.