Nobody actually enjoys going to the dentist, right? It is, after all, roughly 30 minutes of sitting there with your mouth open while someone pokes around with various instruments, some of which are sharp.
So, with all that fun, it does make things slightly more tolerable to have a dental practice that you are comfortable with. I had that, for roughly 37 years, but it was time to make a switch.
That’s right, I went to the same practice for that long. I started going when I was around five years old, and at the time, it was picked for me by the same logic by which I’m sure many people pick their dentist: It was closest to where my family lived at the time.
As I grew older, my dad started going as well. The practice moved a couple of miles away. Our family moved about ten miles further away, but kept going as well. By now, my step-mom had been added to the mix.
The dentist was, at the time, practicing alone. He was actually pretty cutting edge, being one of the first in the country to employ high level technology into the practice. It was solid and it served us well. The practice did grow and change over the years (more on that in a bit) but it was good.
The practice was growing, and this included from our family.After my wife and I married, and after the kids were born and started getting old enough for dental visits, they added to the list of patients as well.
So, why did we change. Well, there were two reasons:
The dental office is about a 25 minute drive from our house, an extra 10 minutes at least during rush hour…which was when we were starting to have to go with the kids in school so that they wouldn’t miss a lot of time for visits. A round trip, including the visit, took upwards of two hours. With time more and more limited as the kids get older, this just became tougher and tougher a pill to swallow.
For a long time, the practice was run as a single dentist operation. The founder was Dr. R.
I mentioned above that he took on a lot of technology which was leading edge at the time. This brought a lot of patients his way and in the mid-1990’s or so he brought on an associate, Dr. G.
Things hummed along smoothly for quite a number of years. Then, in the later part of the 2000’s, Dr R. was forced to semi-retire, as we has having numbness in his hand that was later diagnosed as something that really didn’t have a fix. Bottom line, he didn’t feel comfortable in his role with the precision necessary, so he basically ran the practice, and hired another associate. Around this time Dr. G was promoted from associate to some sort of partner. I assume she had a small ownership stake in the practice.
The new associate, Dr. I, was brought in and we really liked him. He definitely met the high standards for which we’d been accustomed, so we stayed on. After a few years, we were notified that he’d left the practice. Later, it looked like he ended up across town, about an hour away. I’m guessing maybe he simply wanted to establish his base ‘closer to home’.
He was replaced by Dr. M, who was another very good dentist. Dr. P was the first dentist that my children saw, and we all got along well with him.
Later last year, we found out that Dr. M had left the practice as well, and there was yet another new dentist, Dr. P. On top of that, Dr. G, who had been there for nearly 20 years if my memory is correct, also left.
I didn’t mention, but we really didn’t like Dr. P all that much. We’d been fine with Dr. I and Dr. M, but Dr. P was just not all that favorable to us.
All of this turnover was pretty alarming to us, and for the first time we’d talked about actually switching.
The idea was made even easier for us when we looked up Dr. M (who we liked) and found that he was now practicing (along with his wife and father-in-law) in a location not more than 10 minutes from our house.
But still, we talked about it for a long time. Over many months we went back and forth. I even spoke to my dad, who had a lot of the same concerns.
Finally, we decided to make the switch.
Our first visit was last week. We actually all went the same day. It was very odd going into a different office for the first time in 35+ years, but it was nice having some level of continuity as we knew Dr. M and were comfortable that he would provide solid service.
The office was different and the staff was nice. The facilities were a bit older and all the technology that we’d gotten accustomed to at the old office was a bit behind. But, in the end, does having a computer next to the dental chair really matter? No. And, quite honestly, now that Dr. M and his wife seem to be gradually taking over things in the practice, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that area grow. Especially since Dr. M had the exposure to it in the past.
For now, the switch seems to be a good one. We amicably ‘broke up’ with the old office via e-mail. They were understanding and sad to see us leave. I’m sure, while we didn’t solely tip them over to profitability, that nonetheless, they certainly never welcome losing the revenue of four patients all at once.
Of course, I did joke that the new office is bad luck. I think in the last 25 years, I’ve had to have one cavity filled, and wouldn’t you know it, at the new office, Dr. M found one! LOL. In fairness, there was a spot that they’d been looking at for the last few visits, so I sort of knew it was coming. But still!
Readers, I’m curious, do you have loyalty to a particular dentist office or is that something that isn’t as common as I seem to think? Have you ever had to ‘break up’ with a long standing professional relationship? How did it go? Share your experiences in the comments below.
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