How to Grow Your Dental Practice Like the Big Clinics
Dentists and orthodontists face a unique challenge by being both dental practitioners who help and care for patients, and small business owners who must build a successful clinic. Many doctors enter the profession out of a desire to make people’s lives better by giving them confidence in their smile. Along the way, this profession often leads providers to open their own practice, and this is where some excel more than others. Those who manage their practice like a CEO and can identify new business opportunities will thrive… while those who can only focus on treating patients may fall behind.
As clear aligner therapy becomes an integral part of dental treatments everywhere, providers must decide how it fits into their practice. There are plenty of aligner companies out there that offer production and treatment planning services, allowing you to just focus on treating patients… However, a growing number of clinics are embracing in-house aligner production. Many of these larger clinics have recognized higher profit margins and more flexible treatment planning with this approach. If you want to grow your practice like these clinics did, then its time to start treating it more like a business and learn how to grow your aligner value stream.
Embracing your Role as Business Owner
In a recent Orthotown article, Jay Geier, founder and CEO of Scheduling Institute (a firm that specializes in teaching providers how to grow their practices), has described how doctors must recognize the game they’re playing in order to build a fulfilling career. Specifically, he addresses the difference between providers who operate like business owners and providers who operate like working doctors. It takes a lot of energy, time, and headspace to treat patients, but those who can step back and assess their practice like a CEO will build real long-term value.
The first steps of transitioning from a working professional to a business owner involve building a team to support you, developing a business strategy and crafting a vision. Your business strategy will likely include a thorough assessment of the different value streams your practice supports, and one treatment you’re sure to consider is clear aligner therapy. Clear aligners represent an interesting opportunity for General Practitioners and Orthodontists alike as aligner manufacturers like ClearCorrect, Invisalign, or Spark provide the expertise to enable doctors to offer this treatment with little-to-no experience. Providers can build a book of business and gain experience in aligners with this type of support. But what happens when your book of business grows into a significant profit center and you’re looking for ways to improve margins?
In-House Thermoforming – Clear Aligners
This is when many clinics start to consider producing aligners in-house. It can drastically reduce your cost as a clear aligner treatment provider, especially for less complex cases that don’t require 20-30+ stages. There is a bit of a learning curve, but many equipment suppliers provide ample training and education tools to make learning the process easier. You probably already have most of the equipment you will need. Intraoral scanners help capture digital impressions, the cost of 3D printers has dropped precipitously, and there are many treatment planning software services such as eXceed, Ulab Systems, Archform and Arcad Systems.
The only other piece of equipment required is the thermoformer. We recommend a pressure thermoformer as this will achieve the best definition of your aligners. The overall process for in-house production involves capturing digital impressions (IOS scanner), creating a treatment plan using TPS software, 3D printing the dental models, thermoforming the aligners over these models, and trimming/cleaning the aligners. To learn more about fabrication of aligners, please feel free to review our tips & tricks.
But how do you make the right decision for your business on what equipment and materials to use?
Growing Value Streams – Clear Aligners
It all comes down to ensuring your patients have a good experience you’re your treatments. When clinics need predictable, high performance materials, most turn to Zendura Dental. Zendura Dental is a globally recognized line of thermoplastic materials that enable dental industry businesses to produce best-in-class orthodontic appliances.
Zendura FLX was specially designed to answer the needs of clinicians and patients with improved tooth-moving properties while reducing the level of discomfort for the patient during use. Its unique 3-layer construction has set a new industry standard for quality and performance. The tough outer shell precisely hugs the teeth, helping to affect the desired tooth movements like rotation and extrusion and intrusion. It also provides a tough barrier to protect against grinding (and bruxing) from the opposing dental arch. The inner core’s ability to provide exceptional elastic rebound is the real magic of Zendura FLX.
Zendura FLX exerts 40% lower insertion force than other aligner materials and also delivers significantly better patient comfort throughout the entire treatment stage. This much better patient comfort combined with Zendura FLX’s 150%-plus better teeth movement force opens up wider range of treatment protocols. It also allows clinicians to consider shortening wear periods and overall treatment time.
Putting It All Together
While there are many different routes to consider when deciding how to build a successful practice, the key is to start thinking about your clinic as a business owner. Only then can you begin to build the teams and processes that will support your long-term goals. Clear aligners are an excellent value stream that can contribute to your business objectives, and Zendura Dental is here to help you maximize this opportunity. We encourage you to learn more about in-house thermoforming so you can grow your business like the big clinics.