Bulletin, November 2010

The Latest in Area Economic and Technical Trends
Exclusively to Clients and Friends of Advanced Practice Management

The Dental Dow

Comparing the numbers through the third quarter of this year to 2009, we find that practice production and collections are up .4% and .0%, respectively…for all practical purposes even with the previous year. There was a little less downtime in the Doctor’s schedule (reduced about 8%) and a little bit more downtime in the hygiene schedule (up about 8%). Patient flow as measured by exams was down 1.3%. New patients were down about 12%. Crown and bridge was down about 7%, yet the overall production per exam was up about 1.8%.

The All-Time Top 10 Outrageous Cancellation Excuses

Speaking of downtime, a few years ago we surveyed offices for their patients’ most outrageous cancellation and failure excuses.

  1. “Tooth hurts really bad but have to go hunting.”
  2. “The cat turned the alarm off.”
  3. “My mother passed away.” (3rd time in 10 years).
  4. “Too many bears. I’m not leaving the house.” (Duluth patient)
  5. “My teeth look fine. I’ll call you when they aren’t white any longer.”
  6. “Eclipse might hurt my baby. I won’t go outside.”
  7. “Did I make that appointment…really?”
  8. “I found a dead squirrel on the road on the way to my appointment and needed to bring it to the police department so they could properly bury it.”
  9. “My dog ate the reminder card that was on my refrigerator.”
  10. “I thought my appointment was yesterday.”

More Area Economic News

We recently completed our area Dental Economy, Technology, Fee and Wage Surveys. Over 350 dental offices participated.

31% of Metro area offices said their production was up this year and 48% said it was down. 49% of Outstate offices said production was up and 27% said production declined.

When asked about “The Economy” (the #1 issue mentioned by survey respondents), 68% of Metro respondents and 61% of Outstate respondents said the economy affected them “Moderately Negatively”. 41% of Metro offices and 16% of Outstate offices have not or do not plan to give staff raises in 2010.

Insurance and PPO Participation

This was the second most frequent issue mentioned by respondents. Participation in major PPO’s in our area has remained much the same this past year. About 30% of area practices participate with Delta PPO and 17% Met Life (down slightly from 19% last year). About 30% of practices participate with the Premier Group and 19% with Cigna.

This year, 7% of practices said they dropped a PPO and another 7% said they plan to drop a PPO. 7% had joined a PPO in the last year (which would account for the statistics staying pretty much the same) and only 1% plan to join a PPO.

If you’re participating with Delta PPO or Met Life, there’s a better than even chance that you do not need to suffer the large write offs. Although these plans have their place, many offices continue participation much longer than they benefit by doing so. Often these plans have a 30% or more discount from Dentists’ normal fees meaning those providers are treating every third patient for free. Ouch!

Ironically, some of the practitioners who are in the best position to leave their PPO are the most “addicted” to them. We can help you look at this rationally. There are serious risks and rewards involved.


61% of area dentists now have websites, up from 41% last year. 59% of offices now have digital radiography. 65% have intra-oral cameras (but getting them used regularly can still be a challenge).

45% of offices have laser caries detection (e.g. Diagnodent from KAVO).

Wages and Fees

An unweighted comparison indicated Metro fees were up just 1%. Outstate fees were up 3.1%. Wage increases were low to non-existent.

See the complete surveys and more on our

Fee Survey page We put wages and benefits in the “Members Only” area, so if you’re a retainer client and don’t know how to find that, just call our office and we’ll give you the secret path.
If you haven’t already been there, our website is chock full of information. We have past bulletins that cover a wide variety of subjects, articles I’ve written, detailed surveys on area economic trends plus a very good survey of Dental Office Overhead by the firm KDV.

When I ask our clients what the major thing they want from us is, the answer is “An informed third-party perspective.” Our goal is to provide just that. We work hard to make sure that our website has relevant information to give you the perspective you want and need.

Thank You!

We feel very fortunate to work with so many fine practices throughout the state. Sometimes we experience some long, lonely miles on the road but it’s all worth it when we get a chance to sit down with you and your team. Thank you very much for your business! Let’s make 2011 your best year ever!


Matt Lahn, Bill Rossi and Shelly Ryan
Matt Lahn, Bill Rossi and Shelly Ryan