A World of Community at Your Fingertips by Elizabeth Fleming, DDS, Clinical Director, Dentaltown Magazine

Congratulations, Grad! What a world there is before you! And what a world of choices! Thinking of starting up a practice? Where to start? Before setting up a new practice or moving an office, many topics should be reviewed, such as location, equipment, technology and management. You'll want help along the way.

As a solo practitioner, you may find it wise to gather advice from other dentists or consultants. This can be done the old-fashioned way, by utilizing your precious resources of time and money. Or you can find a world of information at your fingertips—on Dentaltown.com.

I joined the Dentaltown community in 2002 and have been utilizing the abundance of information ever since to hear opinions on, and answers to, a myriad of questions that have come up while running my dental practice.

The coolest meeting, ever
For me, Dentaltown came at the perfect juncture. In 2004, I was moving my practice to a new location 15 miles away from my old location, and this move crossed a number of freeways—not wise, according to dental relocation studies. Would my patients follow me to the new, growing community? Should I incorporate updated technology when building out my suite? What would I need? How should I advertise my new office to the community?

I jumped in. I conversed with a lot of early Townies online and got important feedback on lasers, bleaching, computers, digital X-rays, photography, websites, etc. And then I learned that there was also this fun annual get-together in Las Vegas called the Townie Meeting, where all Townies could gather for CE, food, camaraderie and a costume party. I went and it was the coolest meeting I had ever attended! It was like a reunion, even though I wasn't related to any of these people and they were not in my class at school. Meeting online in the Dentaltown forum was our only connection, but that connection was strong.

Forget the stale dental meetings you may have attended elswhere. At Townie Meeting, the days offered classes that were often taught by Townies, interspersed with food, activities, and alcohol. The lecturers were approachable, class sizes manageable, and you quite possibly would see your instructor dressed up at the themed costume party that night.

It was at Townie Meeting that I could touch and see products that I had only heard about online on the message boards. I became an early adopter of many applications and technologies. What a great concept—to see new, innovative products while getting together with Dentaltown friends!

Never walk alone
Dentists are notorious introverts. I worked as a solo practitioner and, early in my career, had gotten feedback on products from a few local dental friends. Dentaltown opened up my world. I could post a question at the start of a patient's treatment and get answers before I was done. No more waiting for my dental friends to return my call! Answers could come from dentists from around the world.

Doing research for a future purchase for my dental office became quite easy using the Dentaltown message boards. In 2014, I was thinking about adding a digital impression system to my office, so I started by posting my questions and, to refine my search, reading the message board forum on CAD/CAM and digital impression technologies.

I found dentists already using a variety of systems who could answer my specific questions. I narrowed it down to the few systems that I felt would work in my office, and attended the ADA meeting in San Antonio to sit down with vendors and actually check out the machines. I ended up making my purchase before the end of the year, based on the research I'd started on the message boards.

Want an opinion? You will get several, some the polar opposite from your own. But keep an open mind as there are many great ideas posted on Dentaltown on a regular basis. If you have a question, most likely it has already been answered. Search the message boards by topic and you may find your answers in an existing thread.

Don't yet feel comfortable starting your own thread or posting a response? You can remain a “lurker.” Once you do start posting, however, be ready to meet an incredible group of people in the dental field, some of whom may even become your followers and friends.

Need continuing education hours? There are 316 courses listed in the expansive file on Dentaltown, organized by Dr. Howard Goldstein. You will find more than 35 different categories, with classes given by top speakers and clinicians in the dental field. New classes are added on a regular basis. Have questions about CE? Dr. Goldstein is just an email away.

For your Howard Farran fix, download and listen to one of his podcasts with industry leaders. Howard is constantly adding new podcasts and they're fantastic.

To search for an associate or a piece of equipment, or to sell your practice, list it in the Dentaltown classifieds. If blogs are your thing, join the 413 of us who offer advice by writing blogs on Dentaltown.

Get involved in this massive, unique, instructive and fun community created especially for dentists, and you will never have to practice alone. The world is waiting … at your fingertips.

Dr. Elizabeth Fleming has been practicing as a general dentist in Phoenix, Arizona for more than 30 years. To keep up with new developments in continuing education, she became chairperson of the AZDA Council for the Western Regional Dental Convention, with the goal of bringing quality speakers to the WRDC. Fleming is on the board for Fortis Dental Hygiene School. She is the clinical director for Dentaltown Magazine and has written articles for the publication, including Women in Dentistry features.

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