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Life is so hard…

By 9 July, 2019Members

Here follows more ramblings from my biased and possibly unhinged mind.  These are my opinions, they might be flawed and they might be wrong, so remember that if you feel the hate begin to flow.

There was recently a discussion on the facebook group “The Dentist” talking about how new graduates don’t seem to have any experience compared to the older generation.  Within that discussion, some people put forward the notion that dentistry has been ruined by the older generation.  This led to people saying that:

  • Practices are now unaffordable for younger dentists
  • Associate incomes are dropping
  • Dentistry is now too risky
  • Young dentists are scared of their shadows.


Times change, get over it.  When I bought a practice I got it relatively cheap.  The people who sold it to me got it even cheaper.  The person before them started it from scratch.  It’s the natural cycle of the market, some things increase in price to the extent that they become unaffordable, but other opportunities present themselves that weren’t available to the generation before.  So yes, the young dentists of today don’t have some advantages that presented themselves to me.  But technology and innovation move on.  Examples?

  • When my mother was a child she had to wash in an iron bath in front of the fireplace and they had no central heating
  • When I was a child there were three TV channels and no internet
  • My Mum and Dad bought their first house for £5000
  • My first phone had a battery life of about forty minutes and texting was the new revolution
  • When I graduated Stem Cell therapy had never even been heard of and implants?  Some mad wizardry from Scandinavia

The young of today will have disadvantages and advantages I never had.   Here are some of the latter.

  • Implant technology has made great strides
  • Composite technology and the ability to learn how to use it through courses has expanded far in excess of anything that was offered to me on graduation
  • The science and technology of marketing and data capture eclipses what I had in my graduation years
  • The existence of social media to create a loyal following and celebrity (is that an advantage lol)
  • The number of postgraduate courses is staggering. When I graduated all that was available was Tipton and Mike Wise.  Your ability to learn new skills is incredible.
  • Botox? Short term ortho?  What were they?
  • There had never been a greater opportunity to leave the shackles of the NHS

I think what I’m trying to say is that if you take on a victim mentality and moan about how the previous generation “ruined it for you” you trap yourself.  I can moan about how the generation before me “earned so much more”.  Believe it or not, from the perspective of what can be achieved with the materials and delivering care that is in the patient’s best interests, there has been no greater time to be a dentist.  Yes, if you want to make a high income, it’s more difficult now, especially on the NHS.  But is that a bad thing, really when you think about it?  Should the NHS be allowing associates to make a higher income than a child cancer specialist as was often the case in the 1990’s?  Should the taxpayer be funding that?  The NHS isn’t about making people rich, it’s about delivering effective care as cheaply as possible.

With notable exceptions, Dentistry in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s was all about turning up and churning out volume.  This wrecked the dentist’s health and led to whole generations of patients who didn’t value the science of what dentistry “could be”.  Oh and it also made millions of people fear us, much of that fear created by a previous bad experience.  That has now changed.  More and more, dentistry is converting to a true patient led health field.  No more plastic bucket seats in reception.  No more “sheep dipping” patients in and out of the dental chair (not if you want to keep the lawyers at bay at least).  No more wiping down the bloody forceps with an alcohol wipe so it could be used on the next patient.  No more pulling teeth that can be saved.

The cost of delivery for dentistry has thus increased markedly, which means it becomes more difficult to make a profit, especially on systems funded by central government.  This means there will be less left over for the hapless associate.  But that just reflects the wonders that can be done now.  Finally, dentistry is becoming a meritocracy.  No longer can Joe Average make a fortune in the job, the lawyers and the regulators filtering out those who think they can trick the population with fancy mouth sounds whilst delivering sub-optimal care.  As the NHS slowly dies, now only the best of us will be able to make those eye-watering sums.  And we will do this from developing our skills, developing our approach to patient management and marketing and from developing ourselves.

Many of you younger dentists reading this will miss out unless you take matters into your own hands and become the best dentist you can be.  The courses are there.  The information is there.  The people ready to help and mentor you are there.  Business coaches, gurus and online CPD were all things I never had the benefit of.  So why not make the most of it?

So what are you going to do?  What action, today, are you going to take to try and get into that top 20% of the profession whose skill is truly reflected by the income they earn?


I merely ask the question