Volume 68: A Real Patient’s View

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Recently my 22 year old daughter returned home after graduating from university. She shared this story with me and I asked her to share it with you as I believe this real life story has valuable lessons for all of us connected to dentistry. This is certainly not directly related to my traditional subjects in dealing with the value drivers when buying and selling a dental practice. It is however, vitally important as the intangible she refers to is goodwill which as you’ll see has immeasurable value to her, and to most patients. Here is her story.

When I started University in 2010, my oral health seemed like a small matter compared to other things I was facing. I was concerned with fitting in, partying, and spending late nights studying and drinking RedBull. Needless to say, my teeth were on the back burner, and suffered accordingly. After researching my health plan, my parents gave me the name of a dentist to visit close to campus, and after much procrastination, I booked an appointment. I never had really bad oral health as a kid, but I knew this appointment was not going to go well.

The appointment was a series of hurtful proceedings, one after the next. First, the hygienist; she asked me the normal questions: “What is your current brushing schedule? Do you floss regularly? Do you drink a lot of sugary drinks?” She didn’t hide the fact that she thought little of me because of the state of my teeth, and I tried to answer the questions as directly as possible to avoid further humiliation. When the dentist came in, he spent about 30 seconds looking in my mouth, and nodded to the hygienist. He said very little and made no effort to make me feel comfortable. I left the office quickly after scheduling my next appointment, and went home with a knot in my stomach at the thought of returning later that month. I had not told the office that I was suffering from bulimia, but I was sure that was contributing to the degradation of enamel. I had not been comfortable enough before the appointment to bring it up, and I certainly wasn’t going to after the experience I had, even though I knew it might have an effect on the treatment plan.

When I went back for my fillings, I tried to tell myself that I was not a bad person because I had neglected my teeth, and that the professionals at the office didn’t think that either. Their attitudes however, proved me wrong. Once again the dentist and his assistant were demeaning in the comments they made about my teeth, and spoke to me as if I were a child. Leaving that appointment, I vowed not to go back to the dentist, I hated it, and felt it was and awful experience.

A few years later, after much prodding from my mother, I decided to go visit the dentist again. Between my last appointment and this appointment, I had continued to neglect my teeth and felt exasperated with the whole dental profession in general (which is ironic, considering my parents’ line of work). This time, I was expecting similar treatment from the dentist and hygienist, knowing that I would be judged for the condition of my oral health. I had however, made a full recovery from my eating disorder, and so I thought maybe it wouldn’t be as bad.

However, it was even worse than it had been on my last visit. My cleaning was unpleasant. The hygienist was displeased, even disgusted with the condition of my oral health, and made it known to me and to the dentist who designed my treatment plan. I needed three appointments to get all the work done. They were not impressed with me. Booking my appointment to come back for fillings, I had the same knot in my stomach that I’d had years ago, but I knew I needed the treatment and thus decided to endure the humiliation.

I returned for the first appointment less than a week later, and was shaking by the time I sat down in the chair. Much to my surprise, the new dentist who carried out my treatment plan and the assistant had a different attitude than I was used to. Both were very pleasant. They asked me some questions about school, asked about my plans for the holidays, and both treated me like a person; not a rotten mouth. The dentist was very gentle, and explained to me that she wanted to make sure I was comfortable throughout the procedure. The assistant was so upbeat and pleasant, and helped to calm my nerves. They worked well together, and included me in their conversations, even though I could only make noises in response. For the first time in my dental office experience, I knew they weren’t judging me for the mistakes I had made with my teeth. They genuinely cared about my oral health, and wanted to make it better. After my three appointments, I had a whole new mouth, and a whole new perspective. It changed the way I felt about my teeth, and ultimately the way I felt about myself.

I have now graduated from university, and am a healthy and happy young woman. I feel like I have the chance to make a fresh start, and am not being held back by the poor choices I made in the past. I have a newfound confidence and a bright smile, which I owe to that dentist. I never thought I would say it, but I look forward to my next visit with her!

David Lind is a Principal and Broker of Record in Professional Practice Sales Ltd. (, which specializes in the valuation and sale of dental practices. He can be reached at (905) 472-6000 or 1-888-777-8825 or e-mail at:

The Professional Advisory

  1. One Year Later

  2. Dealing with Unsolicited Offers

  3. Covid-19 Practice Sales Update

  4. When is the Right Time to Sell Your Practice and Why?

  5. Partnership Pitfalls

  6. The Real Cost of a Dental Practice Set-up

  7. Smaller Practice Realities

  8. Dental Market Update - 2019

  9. Creating Your Own Most Valuable Practice (MVP)

  10. Small Practice Economics

  11. The Market is Very Efficient

  12. How Can Dental Practice Values be Rising and Declining?

  13. Hygiene as a Value Driver

  14. The Value of a Good Team

  15. Is it Time to Move?

  16. Staging A Dental Practice

  17. The High Cost of Dying

  18. Deal-Busters

  19. Patients - Attract and Retain

  20. Should I Stay or Should I Go?

  21. Is There a Buyer for Every Practice?

  22. Good, Better, Best - The Market has Spoken

  23. Smooth-Sale-ing

  24. Buying Time

  25. Patients, Patience, Patients

  26. A Real Patient

  27. Why Do a Practice Valuation? I'm not Selling

  28. Irrational Exuberance or The New Normal?

  29. Do dental equipment and dental technology affect a practice value?

  30. Finding and Being a Mentor

  31. Bigger is Better

  32. Dave's Top Ten List for Buyers (Vendors should read this too!)

  33. How Well Do You Know Your Practice?

  34. Dave's Top Ten List for Vendors

  35. What will happen to dental practice Values in the next 10 years?

  36. Your Premises Lease is an Important Asset

  37. What are Associates Thinking?

  38. There is Life Outside the GTA

  39. When Is the Right Time to Sell My Dental Practice?

  40. Mergers are a Viable Option

  41. Is Your Associate an Asset or a Liability?

  42. Has your Practice Facility Kept Up With Your Billings?

  43. The 100 per cent of Gross Myth

  44. The Past, The Present and The Future

  45. Caveat Emptor

  46. Overpaid Long Term Staff

  47. Selling your Practice in Stages

  48. A Potential Pitfall of Selling Shares

  49. Value in Your Practice Through Balance

  50. Only Trusted Staff Can Defraud You

  51. To Own or Not to Own Practice Real Estate? That is the Question.

  52. Coping With A Large Patient Base

  53. Successful Dental Practice Transitions

  54. Taking Care of Business

  55. The Investing Dentist Phenomenon

  56. Two areas to focus upon that could negatively impact the value of your practice

  57. Organize your Debt in Order to Sell your Practice

  58. Having a Better Team

  59. How Do I Prepare My Practice For Sale

  60. How Do I Prepare My Practice For Sale? Part 3

  61. How Do I Prepare My Practice For Sale? Part 2

  62. How Do I Prepare My Practice For Sale? Part 1

  63. Advice to My Son or Daughter Graduating from Dental School

  64. Transition - What to Expect

  65. Discussion on Digital X-Rays

  66. Partnerships and Shotguns

  67. Strategic Planning - How to Get Started

  68. Calling All Vendors - Practices have Gone Up in Value

  69. Purchasers: Expect to Pay More for a Practice because of Lower Professional Corporation Tax Rates

  70. Matrimonial Practice Valuations

  71. Purchaser's Guide to Affording a Practice

  72. Location Improvements Throughout Your Career

  73. Small Practice Valuations

  74. Partnerships – The Best and The Worst

  75. Changing Location When the Opportunity Comes Along

  76. Visual Presentation of Your Practice

  77. Presentation of Charts

  78. Your Premises Lease Can Be Your Worst Enemy

  79. How to Select an Appraiser for Your Practice

  80. How Are Your Billing Ratios?

  81. It Pays to Invest in Your Tangible Assets

  82. The Importance of Separate Financial Statements

  83. Five Time Frame Levels to Sell a Practice

  84. 12 Suggestions to Safeguard Computer Data

  85. How to Buy a Visible Practice

  86. Why is there a shortage of good practices today?

  87. The Importance of Equipment in the Purchase of a Practice

  88. The Balanced Practice

  89. Will My Practice Be Saleable in The Future?

  90. Buyer Be Aware

  91. Excess Profit - The Second Key

  92. Patients and Profits are the Keys

  93. Plan Ahead