Is it easy to give up?
When, back in 2014, we opened our new clinic at 124, Rakovski St – in the building of the European Parliament, I realized that this should not be just the usual dental clinic. It should not be a universal clinic, offering the full spectrum of dental services, even if they were of premium quality and rates.
I felt that we should be different and stand out. But how to achieve that? What would make us stand out?
And there were a lot of things that made us stand out. Starting from the vast spaces and interior design – 44 sq.m. and merely three offices and an operating theatre. We had the best equipment on the market. The cost of our dental chairs, for example, was more than EUR 80 000 each, and these are still the only ones of their kind in Bulgaria. And last, but not least – our sterilization cycle. We covered the most stringent standard, developed specifically for transplantation wards. There was and still is nobody in the dental sector, meeting such a standard.
But this was not enough
“I should develop a treatment philosophy,” I thought. With such rules on the treatment, which would pass the “mother and daughter” test. This means – a treatment, which I would also apply to my own mother and daughters.
So, I decided to introduce three rules, promising myself that I would strictly follow them.
First: No filing of healthy teeth to place crown. No unjustified mortification of healthy teeth.
Second: Only using implants to replace lost teeth. No bridges or partial dentures.
Third: We do no removable dental prostheses. None!
Armed with this philosophy, I no longer committed the sin of filing healthy teeth and installing removable dentures. Knowing what these would do to the patients in the future!
“This is just fair to people,” I used to tell Veselina – my head assistant, who was always with me and heard everything I discussed with patients.
“That is right, you have my support” - she replied.
Soon, however, I had this conversation with her.
“And maybe it’s wrong, Doctor?”
“What is wrong?”, I could not understand.
“This is not what patients want. They come to this luxury clinic, ready to pay premium rates, but they want crowns and bridges on all their teeth. They don’t believe in implants. For example – I have estimated that just about 30 % of those visiting for examinations, remain as patients. And the rest of them just leave. And go where they can get bridges and prostheses.”
“We cannot be liked by everybody,” was what I replied.
“But, Doctor, I see that you are having a difficult time. Paying the salaries, the rent, repaying your loans. Let’s do bridges! Patients will be glad and happy.”
“No, Veselina! I would not do that to my mother and I won’t do that to my patients. I would rather go broke!”
So a few years passed and I once again spoke with Veselina about that.
“Doctor, it’s good that you stood your ground. No, unlike many others, you can say that you have your own philosophy. You kept your word and never filed any healthy teeth to put a bridge on them. You never did a single removable prosthesis.”
“Well, yes!” I try to play it modest.
“It would be difficult to copy what you do now.”
“Why is that? Many dentists may give up the “treatments” with bridges. And filing healthy teeth.”
“Well, it’s just not that easy, Dr. Duchev. They must also give up on the money, and that is a very hard thing to do!”