A product or service is valuable when it is rare and unique. Once it starts becoming abundant and easy to find anywhere, it loses its value and becomes a commodity. Dentistry as a service was once in short supply and was perceived as a very valuable service. Today you can walk into any commercial plaza or street mall and you can find a dental office tucked between the nail salon and the donut shop.
This abundant supply of dental providers has created a change in people’s perception and even within the dental community toward the value of dental services. Dental offices have been trying to gain the upper hand by bringing the cost of services down. However, this strategy that is so effective for common goods like salt and cotton and ultimately benefit the consumer, has the opposite effect in health services because in order to lower the cost of dental services, a dental provider has to cut corners by looking for cheaper materials, outdated technology, laboratories with questionable practices and poorly qualified staff members.
Your mouth is not a common good. You have unique needs that require careful evaluation by highly qualified providers. It is a huge mistake to “shop around” for the lowest cost dentist you can find because what is at risk is your health. You don’t look for the most affordable cardiologist or obstetrician, you look for qualifications and positive outcomes. The same criteria should be used when finding any other healthcare provider.
During my dental training, I had the opportunity to practice in remote rural areas of Colombia where people have no access and no resources to pay for dental services. Since we worked with portable dental equipment, we were only able to provide them with the very basic services, like dental fillings and extractions. People were very appreciative, but I always felt somewhat frustrated for not being able to offer better dental care. I promised myself then that as long as I was able to afford it, I would strive to give my patients access to the best available dentistry.
Today, at our two Dental Offices in West Covina and Brea, we have the resources to provide our patients with the best that dentistry has to offer. We set it up that way, because we believe that we can’t approach today’s dental problems with last century’s technology. I love ancient dental equipment because it reminds me of the dentistry my dad and uncles used to provide, but there are very clear limitations to what you can find and treat using outdated dental techniques and equipment.
Don’t shortchange your dental health. When it comes to the health of your smile, you only get one chance to get it right.