From the Editor
This month, Inside Dentistry’s cover feature addresses an issue that impacts many areas of our and our patients’ personal and professional lives: the economy. We focus specifically on how the economy is affecting the dental industry and dental practice. The topic is a timely one in the wake of election results, year-end plans, and the more than 700-point drop in the stock market recorded as of this writing on September 29, 2008. It appears that circumstances within dentistry may not be all doom and gloom, and there are many factors regarding how we react to the current economic climate that are within our control.
Prepare Yourself and Your Practice. As many of our interviewees suggest, clinicians need to be proactive in how they prepare for the impact that the economy will have on their practices, both now and into the future. If you don’t know where to begin, consult with a practice management mentor. If you feel you need marketing expertise, ask your colleagues for the names of consultants they trust. If you feel you need to upgrade your skills and education, seek out accredited continuing education programs or contact your dental school to see what programs are available in your area(s) of interest. At a time when other financial investments are very questionable, investing in yourself and your practice may truly be your best financial decision.
Don’t Lose Sight of What’s Important. Always inform patients of what’s needed and why. Explaining a comprehensive treatment plan, if that is indeed what the patient needs, is part of providing sound oral healthcare. You should not assume ahead of time that the patient will not pay for it because the economy is in turmoil. You can certainly inform the patient that treatment can be sequenced—if possible—to accommodate their financial needs, or discuss other alternatives. However, it is your responsibility to present the treatment plan that you believe is in the patient’s best interest.
Remember, Everyone’s Feeling It. If you are feeling the strain from the hits our economy has taken this year, remember that you’re not alone. In particular, bear in mind what one of our interviewees for our cover feature—Gary Price, chief executive officer of the Dental Trade Alliance—brought to our attention. It’s during times like these that public and private programs to help those less fortunate than us receive the dental care that they need are in jeopardy of losing funding. Whenever and however possible, it’s important for dental professionals to continue their altruistic and humanitarian endeavors to ensure that those with limited or restricted access to oral healthcare can receive the dentistry they so desperately need. For those of us who have been around for a while, we have weathered other financial downturns and we always have come out on top. We need patience and perseverance but this too will pass.
We hope you enjoy this issue and find that it lends some insight into—if not comfort about—the current economic climate and how it has been affecting the dental industry, your practice, and your purchasing/buying habits. Please send us your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, your thoughts, opinions, and reactions are our motivations to continually enhance our clinical content and coverage of today’s topics of interest. Thank you for reading and, most of all, thank you for your continued support.
With warm regards,
Gerard Kugel, DMD, MS, PhD
Associate Dean for Research
Tufts University School of Dental Medicine
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Editor’s Note: This issue of Inside Dentistry, including our cover feature, was prepared for publication in late September and early October, and therefore may not necessarily reflect any changes that may have occurred due to the presidential election or government-sponsored plans regarding the current economic crisis.