What 7 dentists want from the tooth fairy in 2023

Higher reimbursements, practice success and more employees are included on the list of things dentists are hoping to get in 2023. 

Seven dentists recently spoke with Becker's to answer the question, "If you could get one thing from the tooth fairy in 2023, what would that be and why?"

Editor's note: Responses were lightly edited for clarity and length. 

Tiffany Lamberton, DDS. TMD Collective (Tacoma, Wash.): I'm excited for 2023 and feel hopeful the tooth fairy will bring success and recognition for TMD Collective! With dual degrees in physical therapy and dentistry, I am starting a fee-for-service boutique practice treating TMJ disorders in the greater Seattle-Tacoma area. My approach is unique in that I consider airway, myofunctional therapy aspects as well as the temporomandibular joints or jaw joints as all part of optimal oral health. I am a huge proponent of early recognition of high-risk TMJ patients, especially in regards to craniofacial growth in young children. I recently spoke about airway, myofunctional therapy and the TMJ at the Pacific Northwest Dental Convention in Seattle and was pleased to see many dentists and dental hygienists are interested in hearing more about my approach ... I'm seeing an incredible amount of interest in dental hygienists becoming certified in oral myofunctional therapy and I love being part of the educational process! The more we collaborate with our fellow healthcare providers such as physical therapists, speech language pathologists, sleep physicians, etc., the better comprehensive care we can offer our patients! 

Barry Lyon, DDS. Chief Dental Officer, Division of Orthodontics and Pediatric Dentistry, at Dental Care Alliance (Sarasota, Fla.): I'd like the tooth fairy to bring me all the clinical and clerical employees I need so my offices can continue to serve our patients well and also show skyrocketing growth!

Frank Nelson, DDS. Advanced Dental Implant Center (Phoenix): I have been in dentistry a long time and seen an incredible transition in our digital world. If I could get one thing from the tooth fairy in 2023, I would like to be able to help as many people as possible enjoy their life more due to being confident in smiling as well as being able to eat whatever they want. Modern dental implants combined with technology and new materials made restoring a mouth with implants truly an investment, not just a required cost. It really can, for the first time, last the rest of their lives and be better than what they had for years.

Paul Rotunda, DMD. Vice President and Chair of the Department of Dentistry and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at Jersey City (N.J.) Medical Center of RWJ Barnabas Health: Government support to help combat the most prevalent disease in the United States, dental caries, especially to the underserved inner-city population who need it so badly. Hoping that the wish comes true.

Larry Stewart, DDS. Texas Oral Surgery Group (Plano): I would want the tooth fairy to bring a year where the word "unprecedented" is not needed or used! Given the recent COVID-19 pandemic, the unsettled state of geopolitical affairs, the unusual weather patterns we've experienced over the past several years, "unprecedented" has been a greatly overworked term.  Let's pray that 2023 is a more "precedented" year. The longer I'm in practice the more I understand that there is joy in simple work, and the simple things in life are the most essential.

Robert Trager, DDS. Dentist at JFK and LaGuardia Airports (New York City): If the tooth fairy doesn't get involved with politics, then I would wish that all the health professionals would receive the admiration, respect and proper remuneration for their dedication to their profession, especially during this past COVID pandemic.

In the past six to eight months, most of the businesses and industries have recovered and now are reporting large profits. The cost of gas, electric and oil have gone up considerably as well as the fees for drugs, food, clothing and transportation. 

Unfortunately, the reimbursement fees provided to the health professionals for the services they have provided have remained stagnant. Since the cost of living and the inflation index have gone up considerably, this has not been transferred to the reimbursement that the professionals receive from the government (Medicare, Medicaid) and the insurance companies.

The [American Dental Association] and the [American Medical Association] are our advisory and support groups but not our unions to negotiate reimbursement fees. The health professionals should now have an advisory influence for negotiating fair and reasonable reimbursements. This involves an advisory and bargaining capacity with the employers, insurance companies and the unions. 

Why is it the same insurance company will pay a fee for one reimbursement service that is 100 percent or more lower that is provided to an insured with the same company? The professionals should get more involved in the contracts in order to receive a fair and reasonable fee. 

If the tooth fairy can't provide this wish, then maybe we should elect a tooth negotiator!

Greg Wych, DDS. The Art of Dentistry (Irmo, S.C.): From a personal point of view, I'd want a couple of motivated, young, skilled dentists with a good credit line who want to purchase a practice that strives to be different from anything corporate. They'd have to like, or not hate, the usual managerial, HR stuff and enjoy marketing to compete.

From a personal practice standpoint, I would love to have a [customer relationship management system] that integrates totally with my Dentrix and would allow me to market to and communicate seamlessly with my patients, with email and print sequences that reinforce diagnosed uncompleted care, hygiene recare, appointments (consults) where the patient didn't schedule in a totally automated [way] and not requiring a human to trigger. I've never been able to find a bridge that works with my Dentrix and a CRM like Infusionsoft (Keap). I think this could add to our productivity, keep from losing patients and add to the differentiation, "wow" experience.

Or, I'd like a super easy way to go totally paperless so we can stop using printed updated health history forms and just use something on an iPad that goes directly into my Dentrix while all current records are easily scanned into the software, again to provide the "wow" experience and maybe make the practice more attractive to a young buyer(s).

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