Any dentist who’s been practicing for a long time (like 30 years) can tell you a lot about how drastic the dental industry and profession have changed. The relationship between patient and dentist has been the most dramatic adjustment over the years. Technological advances have made dental services faster, more effective, and usually pain-free. But at the root is the difference in the patient/dentist dynamic.
There was a time when dentistry was a very promising and attractive industry, simply because of the ratio of patients to dentists. The numbers of dentists were way less than the number of patients. The results were that many dentists did not treat their practice or their patients with the care and attention that is normally expected today. Business was always going to be good, even if a patient decided not to come back. There was a great demand for dental work, and not that many dental practices to supply services.
Over the years, patients have become more knowledgeable about their expectations. The Internet is a major source for information gathering and communicating. A patient will enter a dentist’s office today with questions and concerns that patients from 30 years ago would not. Those patients would just view the visit to the dentist’s chair as a necessary evil, painful and long. With advancements in the profession, and an increase in dental practices, the expectations for dentists are much higher. Pain should no longer be viewed as an unavoidable side effect.
The selection of a dentist no longer needs to remain a “family decision” where whoever you have, you have. People can make choices that are more suitable to their personal preferences, as opposed to settling from a lack of options. As the relationship seems to tip in the favor of the patients over the years, there has also been a new emphasis on technology and marketing. TV and Internet are being used to capitalize on the latest technologies and bring in patients. It certainly seems to be more about the dollar these days, as opposed to first being about the patient’s dental hygiene.