How to Transition From a General Practice to an Implant-Focused Practice

Over the past several years, we’ve helped many practices transition from general practices to implant-focused practices.

When practice owners come to us today, many are surprised about how diverse the practices are. Some assume it’s easier for a practice in a low-competition area to transition to an implant-focused practice. Others assume it’s easier for a practice in an area without a large group of specialists. Still others have other assumptions about the type of practice that can successfully transition from a general practice to an implant-focused one.

The truth is, we have yet to find a practice that couldn’t successfully transition to an implant-focused one. All they needed to do was follow the same proven method that the other practices used.

To help, we reached out to some of our existing and past clients who successfully made the transition to focusing their practice on dental implants. We asked them, “What was the key to your successful transition from a general dental practice to an implant-focused practice?” Here are the top responses from our conversations:

Commit to transitioning from a general dental practice to an implant-focused practice.

Dr. Brian Wilkinson of Shallowford Smiles in Chattanooga, TN, credited his transition to intention. He said, “Deciding that I wanted to concentrate on implants helped to guide my decisions in education, equipment, process flow, staff training, and marketing.”

Once he set his intention and committed to transitioning to an implant-focused practice, his commitment guided each of his decisions about education, equipment, process flow, staff training, and marketing. With each of those areas focused on dental implants, his transition was only a matter of time.

Earn the belief of three groups of people.

Dr. Mike Maroon, of Advanced Dental in Berlin and Cromwell, CT, summarized several responses when he said you need three groups of people to believe in you to succeed in your transition.

First, you need to believe in yourself. You need to believe that you have the knowledge and skill to place and restore implants. 

Second, your team needs to believe in your ability to change lives through dental implants. When they believe in you and see the lives you transform with your implant practice, they will rise to the occasion as well.

Third, patients need to believe in you. Dr. Maroon advises, “You need to get a few successful cases done quickly to build up your “street cred!” Often times when I’m introducing new treatment into my practice, I’ll do the first few cases at a significantly reduced cost for patients. This allows patients to get the dental treatment that they need, allows me to gain valuable experience, and allows my dental team to see that I’m capable of providing the treatment successfully. We also ask the patients if we can use these as “teaching cases” or for “marketing purposes” and that’s why the discount is available. You’ll be amazed at how quickly most people say “YES!”

Your first few placements can go a long way to building all of these beliefs. Those transformations will build everyone’s confidence in you.

Learn how to (safely) be uncomfortable.

Dr. Kevin Priest of Priest Dental in Ashland, OH gained confidence in his surgical skills by learning how to safely be uncomfortable. He pushed himself with advanced implant courses through the Midwest Implant Institute. 

This step outside of his comfort zone enhanced his skill level. He said it pushed him to not only be a better implant dentist, but to be better surgically. He became confident enough to handle more complex procedures and navigate through potential complications. 

In Dr. Priest’s own words, “In order to grow, you have to push yourself. It’s uncomfortable to grow, but you do it safely. I did my training through Midwest implant Institute and it pushed me to become a better dentist. Not only an implant dentist, but pushed me to be better surgically. I knew how to handle different procedures and get myself out of trouble from the training that I received. That’s what I mean by learning to be safely uncomfortable.”

For Dr. Priest to be safely uncomfortable, education was the key. This was actually a common theme from the implant dentists we spoke to.

Get the right kind of clinical training.

Dr. Bryan Brenner of Brenner Dental Care in Seattle, WA, says to get surgical and implant training so you can feel confident in your treatment planning. Don’t just limit your training to easy cases, too.

Dr. Brenner says if you limit yourself to easy cases and only training on easy cases, you won’t be able to really grow the implant portion of your practice. You will either notice you are needing to refer things out for extra grafting or you will be doing things you probably shouldn’t and pushing the limits. Avoid pushing the limits by getting training on easy and difficult cases.

Shift your marketing messaging.

Dr. Brenner also credits shifting all of his marketing messaging to dental implants as a key to success.

While many practice owners might worry that you would lose general care patients right away, this didn’t happen with Dr. Brenner. In addition to implant patients, it attracted other comprehensive care patients.

“Marketing was the most daunting portion of the process, as it took me completely out of my dental element and comfort zone.  Thankfully I was guided towards Driven Dental Marketing.  Working with them has been a pleasure and has allowed me to focus on producing dentistry and enjoying my working days.” -Dr. Brian Wilkinson

Get started… even if it’s slow.

Dr. Bernard Ang of Amherst Village Dental in Amherst, NH, got started slowly. He had purchased a CBCT scanner and was exploring all of its capabilities. To get the highest return on investment for his CBCT scanner, he started with a few simple implant cases using his scanner’s guided surgery capabilities.

After a few of those, he started placing implants freehand. As he got more comfortable and more training, he continued to expand, taking on more and more-complicated cases. In his first year, he placed around fifty implants. A few years later, he’s placing between 100 and 150 cases, many of which are complex.

Had Dr. Ang waited until he was ready to perform complex cases, he never would have gotten started. But he started simple, using the CBCT’s guided surgery capabilities on simple cases and grew from there.

Get support, you don’t have to go on your implant journey alone.

Accelerating the growth of your implant practice on your own can have a steep learning curve. Working with a marketing partner like Driven Dental Implant Marketing can help your dental practice generate a consistent flow of prequalified dental implant leads. The right marketing partner can offer you support in converting those leads, which can include everything from phone training to actually hiring team members to manage the lead follow-up for you. 

Programs like Driven’s Virtual Patient Advocate (VPA) campaign can be an invaluable tool in growing your dental implant practice by becoming an extension of your team. Unprecedented support is offered in the form of prescreening and prequalify leads for you so all you need to do is deliver a great patient experience. If you want help building your own implant-focused practice, book a strategy call to learn more.

Nick Pavlidis
 

Nick Pavlidis is a recognized author for several dental implant articles.

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