I’m not a huge fan of TV “investigative reporting”. I’ve often found them to be “hit pieces” where some person or company gets destroyed by a sharp tongues reporter or clever editing. However, this past week, NBC did one heck of a job questioning SDC about the complaints from customers. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, go take a look at the interview. You can see it HERE.

It’s fun to see someone on the side of patients and the orthodontic profession.  Smile Direct Shares dropped 20% on Friday after the NBC interview. Look at the hottest internet stores today. Words like “teledentistry” are now becoming a part of the online lexicon.  DTC is obviously a lot bigger than just SDC, but it was fun to sit back, grab the proverbial popcorn and watch the back and forth in the interview.

Plus, in 1 day I got 57 shares of my post!!!  We need to stand together and get the word out whenever we can. If you look at the responses on the shared posts, you’ll see many patients responding that they had no idea that DTC aligners weren’t good for them. I know it seems insane that patients don’t recognize this, but that’s what’s happening. It shows that no matter how much education we do on our web pages and with the AAO, there is still a huge percentage of people out there who don’t “get it”.

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There’s no question that orthodontics has faced some very interesting times in recent history. From GPs doing lots of Invisalign to DTC aligner companies, the old paradigm of private orthodontic specialty care has certainly morphed.

There has been a lot of discussion about what to do about the changing societal role of the private orthodontist. Some point to the idea of standing behind the shield of the AAO to show our strength as a profession while others talk about legislative headway to protecting our patients as well as social media post campaigns to better educate the public. All are correct.

But, two things stand out to me:

  1. We need to stand together as a specialty profession to protect the public and maintain the highest level of healthy outcomes for our patients
  2. We need to be smart about how legislation affects our future practice lives

I posted the following in Orthopreneurs and it bears repeating. Any prospective legislation to protect patients with regard to HOW we practice is fraught with potential issues. Want a dentist to have to be on sight for a scan? Great, now we can’t have assistants do a simple scan for a patient who lost a retainer and these DTC companies will find a way around it. Want to force a dentist to perform the treatment plan? They’ll figure out a workaround somehow.

I know I don’t have the full answer, but why not simply do what I remember Washington state doing when I used to practice there and take it a step further.  Simply make the law that all dental and orthodontic practices/companies/LLC’s MUST have a dentist licensed in that state as a majority owner and that only a dental and orthodontic practices/companies/LLC may render care or treat patients in the state. It makes it simple. It doesn’t tell us HOW to practice and how many dentists do you know (aside from DSOs) who do not have a licensed dentist as at least a 51% owner? It doesn’t affect how we practice and we can treat patients in any way we see fit, instead of having more and more restrictions placed on our day to day actions. Sure, the VC backed DSO’s won’t like it, but it would  be great for our profession and would make it impossible for DTC companies to function in their current model.

Like I said, I don’t have all the answers, but I do know that we need to stand together to protect patients and we don’t need more restrictions on our daily practice.

I feel like it’s when we speak to our teams when someone screwed up, and we’re afraid to acknowledge the mistake in front of everyone, so we speak in generalities. “Hey everyone, I really need you to all make sure you clock in and out every day and not miss a punch in or punch out, ok?”. When we’re really just talking to one person. It’s ambiguous, doesn’t help and leaves everyone no better off than before, with the best employees wondering why they’re even part of the discussion in the first place.

Let’s make sure that the best of our profession aren’t saddled with way more legislation because those in charge are afraid to tackle the actual problem head on in a way that lets us keep practicing the way we want.

What are your thoughts? Do we need more restrictive practice laws? Is there a better way?

Wishing you the best,

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If you want to be a part of a geographically exclusive Facebook group (OrthopreneursRD) where we do deep dives into these discussions (and more) , please message me. To learn more about your region’s availability and what it’s all about, click HERE.

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GLENN KRIEGER IS AN ORTHODONTIST WITH 20 YEARS OF RESTORATIVE AND COSMETIC DENTISTRY EXPERIENCE BEFORE HE RETURNED TO ORTHODONTIC RESIDENCY. DR. KRIEGER LEARNED ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF WELL-DESIGNED PRACTICE POLICIES AND SYSTEMS DURING A YEAR AT THE SCHUSTER CENTER FOR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT IN SCOTTSDALE ARIZONA, AND AN UNDERSTANDING OF GENERAL ACCOUNTING PRACTICES AND INDUSTRIAL PSYCHOLOGY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON GRADUATE BUSINESS SCHOOL’S “DENTIST AS CEO” PROGRAM. HE IS THE HOST OF “THE ORTHOPRENEURS PODCAST”, MANAGES THE ORTHOPRENEURS FACEBOOK GROUP AND RUNS THE ANNUAL ORTHOPRENEURS SUMMIT.

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