Hi and welcome or welcome back to The Perio Patient Podcast a podcast for my patients and anyone else who cares to listen. If this is your first episode, you have jumped in on number 87, which means there is a lot of earlier information that is definitely relevant to you. The best two ways to look at previous episode topics are to (1) subscribe to this podcast through whatever podcast site you get your downloads and then scan topics there or (2) go to my website and there you will find podcasts listed in the various information tabs. I have discussed insurance, the fact we no longer need lead shields when taking x-rays and dozens of other topics just for you – a dental patient, and more specifically a periodontal patient.
Also, it is always a good idea periodically to review the 15 minute video on my website’s home page called A Tooth Has Four Parts.
I call it this because that is all a tooth has, just four parts. The point being that it is not so complicated that you can’t understand at a fairly sophisticated level, what periodontal disease is, what causes it, and how to managed it – which is one of your two jobs. It will also tell you what my two jobs are.
A little background on this presentation – and I have told this story elsewhere, so this might be a little review for a few of you. I developed this story while a young captain in the Air Force when I was stationed overseas at Hahn AB Germany. I was a general dentist and had just come out of a one-year post dental school residency called a General Practice Residency – and because I had this extra year of Air Force directed dental training, I was then assigned to a base with only one specialist – who was not a periodontist. So my boss, Colonel Helder assigned me as the clinics go-to guy for periodontal problems.
Because my work load began to take on many new periodontal cases a week, it quickly became clear to me that I needed to formalize my presentation. This did a number of good things for both me and the patients. First, trying to explain things in new and creative ways for every patient is exhausting. It also leaves you with the problem of not remembering exactly what I told each patient. By standardizing the presentation I could understand how much time I needed to give it, I could also train others to give it and I no longer needed to remember what I told people. Now it is a video presentation.
Eventually in my Air Force career I became the director of the Periodontal Therapist Program – which was at that time essentially a one-year training program for enlisted dental assistants to be trained in dental hygiene procedure in order to support periodontists and periodontal patients at Air Force clinics all over the world. A Tooth Has Four Parts became part of that curriculum.
So what does all this tell you about me? First, that my career path is not a normal one. I have been trained an equivalent of four additional years following dental school within the Air Force. I have also spent a great deal of time in education on the teaching side. I have taught everyone from dental students, dental hygiene students, graduate periodontal students, and dentists at local, regional and national meetings.
Following retiring from active duty, I started into private practice here in San Antonio, Texas. For a little while, I came out of private practice to help develop and promote a technology start-up company that both won a national award and hit an economic iceberg back in the 2007 to 2008 time-frame. So I went back into private practice a second time.
And as is always the case in careers, I took my previous experiences to change my present method of practice.
For one thing, I started and maintained my presence professionally as a solo practitioner without a dental hygienist.
I wrote a book to help patients with one of their two responsibilities as explained in the video and that has to do with daily plaque control or health management – the things you need to do everyday to maintain your own health. This covers 80% of you health requirements, by the way. And the title of the book is The Joy of Flossing. You can find it on Amazon both in soft cover and Kindle download. It is actually written for families in order to help young people avoid periodontal disease in the future by learning and practicing flossing every day.
I started two podcasts – one for patients and one for my professional colleagues, especially dental hygienists on how to take care of patients who have been treated by me for periodontal disease.
I took my extensive cutting-edge at the time knowledge about guided surgical procedures and the placement of dental implants to improve outcomes in this area of periodontal practice.
And finally, probably the best for last, I incorporated the power of a particular soft-tissue laser to speed up the healing of periodontal disease, at lower discomfort, few appointments and lower cost than the equivalent conventional methods I had be performing for decades prior.
One problem it became necessary to overcome in order to provide laser therapy to patients has been the fact that dental insurance companies have no laser insurance codes and look to turn down treatment every opportunity they can. This meant for a few in the past that they received laser therapy and then found their insurance companies would not cover the cost. This obviously was not a sustainable way to treat patients – to tell them their insurance company might not cover the cost of their care and if they did not, the patient would be responsible for covering the cost themselves. Often, due to the inability to really be clear on potential costs, patients would either delay treatment or elect no treatment at all. Both are unhealthy options.
So I was left with a choice – return to conventional care, which ultimately would result in patients paying more for care – even with insurance covering their portion, or accept the reality that insurance does not cover laser and offer it anyway. By choosing to stick with the better treatment for patients, and understanding that I would not be receiving anything from any third parties, it meant that this particular service would be a transaction between patients and me. And this meant I could lower my fees – which is what I did.
Finally, if you have been one of my laser-treated periodontal patients, you might consider letting your family and friends know about my services because for the time being I do not plan to change my fees. This means with the increasing inflation of most goods and services this is an opportunity for people to get their mouths periodontally healthy at relatively lower cost. Obviously, as my overhead rises, there might come a point where I have to raise fees, but I will hold out as long as I can. This is because I believe now is the time for people to obtain good dental care and become as healthy as possible.
The easiest way to encourage others to come see me is to pass this podcast on to them or direct them to my website.
Finally, there are no mask mandates in my office. If you feel comfortable wearing a mask, you are perfectly welcome to do so. I discuss COVID a great deal on other podcasts if you want to understand more about it. And as part of Pandemic recover and all the worries and concerns this has brought into people’s lives, I have started what I call The Still Point Project. You can check this out at TheStillPoint.Substack.com.
Well that’s plenty for now. I hope you and yours are doing well.
You have been listening to the Perio Patient Podcast and I am still Dr. Ben Young. Thanks for listening. Bye for now.