Breaking Up (With Our Dentist) Was Hard To Do

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, which is a very long time. Still, after considering a lot of different things, we decided it was time to switch dentists.

37 Years At One Dentist

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, which included our family.  My wife and kids became patients.

So, why did we change.  Well, there were two reasons:

Distance

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.

Turnover

For a long time, the practice was run as a single dentist operation.  The founder was Dr R.

mb-2016-05-toothI 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.  He starteds 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.

They hired a new associate, Dr I, 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’.

More Turnover

Dr M was the next up and we got along well with him and felt he was very qualified.  Dr M 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.

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 Decision To Switch Dentists Has Gone Well So Far

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.  We noticed that the facilities were a bit older.  Plus, 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. I think that will change now that Dr M and his wife are taking a lead role in the practice.  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.

13 thoughts on “Breaking Up (With Our Dentist) Was Hard To Do”

  1. When I moved to California, I asked people at work for a recommendation to a dentist. I was given the name of someone local – so I went in, and they…found 92 things wrong with my mouth – I was horrified! My other coworker suggested I get a second opinion, and recommended the dentist he and his family had been seeing for 20 years.

    Turns out – none of what was “found” by the first dentist was necessary – and other coworkers were for similar ridiculous procedures, so I never went back to the first guy and stuck with the second recommendation.

    My dentist is a 40 minute drive away – but I’ve been going there for 16 years now, and while Dr H is getting older, his son is going to take over the practice, and has been there for a few years, and I am very happy with young Dr H.

    Last summer, my work changed Dental plans – and now my dentist is not covered. I am waiting – it sounds like the new plan has disrupted just about everyone in our company, and I’m *hoping* we switch back in August, and I won’t have to find a new dentist.

    And I’m a weird one – I don’t mind the dentist and I kind of look forward to the cleaning appointments.

  2. That’s awesome you ended your relationship on good terms. It’s important to be kind to dentists because they probably have fillings too. 😀 I’ve never had to switch a professional service yet but if I did it would probably be for the reasons you mentioned.

    • Yeah, I also have to switch doctors because we changed insurance plan and the doctor that I really grew to like over the past few years is not in the new plan. That one hurts a bit more because I don’t have any relationship nor does anyone I really know to the new doctor. Hope for the best, I guess.

  3. It can be difficult to find a good dentist, and leaving a good one can be hard. Congrats for making the move and saving all that time on the road.

    References from others can be the best way to find a top-notch dentist, as I’ve found.

  4. Absolutely….My dentist, Dr. Gilbert, was a wonderful dentist. He came to be a trusted professional and “almost a friend”. When he would suggest something for my girls, I would ask him if he would do the same for his kids. If he said yes….we did it…no matter the cost. Met his kids….followed their life and progress as we kept appointments. Thanks to him BOTH my kids have NO cavities and enjoy excellent oral health. Was a sad day when he announced his retirement and sale of the practice….

  5. PiC and I use different dentists because we didn’t like the style of our respective other dentists’s offices 🙂

    I don’t mind my dental cleanings at all but I do think my office recommends work a little more often than is strictly necessary so I have to be pretty dialed into what makes sense. Kinda like visiting the mechanic. I’ve had to change dentists about 3-4 times in the last 20 years for various reasons so there’s at least one that I miss.

  6. Breaking up with a person you’ve been with for one service or another is really hard! I had to break up with my dentist who I LOVED because they don’t have my new insurance that I have through my company. 🙁 I’m also breaking up with my longtime PCP because I joined Kaiser because I’m paying nothing out of pocket. I really want to break up with my hair stylist because it’s costing me way too much money, but for some reason that makes me nervous as hell because I have short hair!

  7. I totally agree with you! It’s great when you can find a dentist that you love and are comfortable with, but sometimes it’s just more convenient and practical to switch to a new one. Glad to see that you’re satisfied with your new dentist so far!

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