Sunday, September 11, 2005

The Business of Pediatric Dentistry

In the past, most dentists (and pediatric dentists) opened their doors as solo practitioners. Over the years, there has been a shift towards partnerships and group practices. Our practice started when Dr. Charles Hall opened up in the 60’s. Dr. Richard Cannon joined shortly afterwards. Their partnership is near legendary in these parts. (Dr. Cannon is seen above on the left. Dr. Hall is on the right). Dr. Hall eventually became president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. I joined in 1992 after being in solo practice for a couple of years.

The practice was renamed Alabama Pediatric Dental Associates (APDA). Since then we have added a second office in Madison, Alabama and added three other pediatric specialists and two orthodontists. That necessitated a change in the name again to APDA “& Orthodontics”. Although, we still call it APDA because the whole thing became a mouthful. You can visit our main website with the link on the sidebar. Above you can see us opening our new Huntsville office with Huntsville Mayor Loretta Spencer.

Our staff has grown as well. I often wonder how we keep our sanity working with around 40 women! With such a large practice, management and the business aspects of the profession become more important and certainly demand more time. We know all about patient treatment, but are ill equipped initially to understand the business of dentistry. Often we say, “ I don’t care about all that, just let me treat the patients”. However, we soon find out if you can’t stay in business, you can’t offer the best treatment for your patients. Like it or not, these days you must understand business.

Our doctors and management meet often on business and patient issues. We also meet annually with our accounting firm Cain, Watters, and Associates, P.C. in Dallas about once per year. They helped us with transitioning in our new dentists to the practice.

In addition to the intensive education to become a dentist and the continuing educational requirements to keep up with current techniques, etc., there is the real need for business and management skills development. Just look at some of the following things you need to master, but never really get much in dental school:

Hiring personnel, government regulations such as OSHA and HIPPA, licenses, tax laws, supplies and inventory management, financing and banking, employee benefits, bonuses, pension plans and pension law, long range planning, and practice transitions. By the way, have I mentioned anything about patient treatment? We are just scratching the surface here. I’ll add more regarding these topics and more especially including our wonderful patients and their dental care.

If you want more, go back to the home page or click here:Pediatric Dentistry


coreyjoedds said...

Great Blog! I am currently a dentist in the military and about to apply for a pediatric residency. How did you go about starting a practice after residency? What was your plan for establishing and meeting goals for private practice? (timeline, starting out, etc) It looks as though the business side of practice is going well for you and I would appreciate any helpful information for doing the same as you have in starting a pediatric dental clinic. Thanks and keep on Blogging!

Dr. Dean Brandon said...

I am so pleased you enjoy the blog. You may want to search around for other posts of interest. I know some have asked my about salary, etc. which is a post as well "what is the salary of a dentist?". I go into what I think would be good info for anyone starting out. Bottom line is that there are several ways to go into practice and as a Pediatric Dentist, you will be in great demand. The wisest choice, I think, is to go into an existing practice as an associate leading to partnership.

Hero said...

This blog is wonderful , I am currently in Sophomore year of college ! and now i know that you have to get a DDS or DMD before any specialization right ?

Will taking child psychology in undergraduate help in this specialization ?

What do you think is the best majors to choose to get into paediatric dentistry moreover DMD.

Also what colleges do you recommend ! I want to transfer to a college which the dental school is affiliated with and they offer pre dental and more preference to the students of that school for their dental school !
Please recommend !

Dr. Dean Brandon said...

Sorry, I've been out of town with no time to blog...

Hero-- You will find lots of stuff here on the blog about dental school linked up there on the right. Many have asked the same questions you have here, so check them out.
Basically yes, you need a Doctorate before specialization--just like medical school.

Best majors? it doesn't matter so long as you get the requirements for your particular school met--lots of Biology and Chemistry AND do well.

Predental is fine, but it's just an emphasis on the required courses-if you take all those you will be near a BS or like degree. Get your degree no matter the major.

Emma said...


I am currently in 9th grade and am ready to start thinking about my future career. For a while now i have been REALLY thinking about Pediatric Dentistry, but am a little confused on how many years of college and dental school it would take to get there. I would like to not have to take 10 years,because I want to do other things too. So, is other options as to how many years you have to take to become a Pediatric Dentist? Also, what would the the best majors in college?
Thank you.

Dr. Dean Brandon said...

Emma, Thanks for commenting. I have been out of the country, so delayed on answering your comment. It does take a long time to become dental specialist. Please get my book either hardback or e-book. It should answer your questions more specifically, plus it gives guidance about your other options. Basically, get good grades--the major does not matter so long as you get the basic requirements. There is also more info here on the blog about dental school. Good luck!