Life never turns out as predicted. I grew up in Effingham, Illinois—home of the Flaming Hearts and the world's second-largest cross. My great-grandfather was a farmer and I was raised straight-up blue collar by a wonderful mom who worked long hours and was still available for her family. I was blessed. Yet after I graduated from dental school, I was anxious to bail on my rural upbringing. Sunny Fort Collins, Colorado, was calling! My wife and I purchased a great office and enjoyed the area's world-class mountain biking and 300 days of sunshine, but after seven years, I still wasn't happy.
I had no idea that embracing my small-town roots would eventually become the secret to my success, and ultimately allow me to find happiness.
A challenged—and challenging—patient base
How often do you hear "No offense, but I hate dentists"? I shrug and move on nowadays, because usually it's a minor struggle. For patients who need dentures, though, the struggle is much more frightening and real … and most dentists aren't interested in providing removable dentures.
More than 120 million Americans are missing at least one tooth. Fifteen to 20 percent of people in the Midwest have lost more than six teeth (and that percentage is even higher in the South). Many dentists lack the training in removable dentures and the patient-management skills required to address this population. Consider this my encouragement for fellow dentists to step out of the comfort zone and give dentures a chance. It has changed my life, and it may change yours.
A growing specialty
I found my current practice on Dentaltown. Our friends thought my wife and I were crazy to trade an office in Fort Collins for one in Indianapolis—and a dentures-only practice at that. ("Breathing too many fumes from the monomer?") I flew to Indianapolis on a Thursday and bought the office the next day.
For a full year, I commuted between Colorado and Indianapolis every week to maintain both offices until I could find a suitable buyer for the Colorado location. It was a grueling schedule, but something I'll forever be grateful for. I learned a lot—including the fact that you shouldn't keep commuting 1,000 miles on a regular basis.
But since that laborious year, our practice has grown exponentially. We now have multiple locations with a large central lab. We believe we're having a huge, positive impact on the lives of our patients in Indiana. We're committed to staying in the Midwest and eagerly plan to add many more locations. There is a need for dentists who enjoy dentures—and that need is real.
We intentionally limit our patient pool to extractions, dentures and implants. This allows us to serve a specific, too-often-ignored demographic. These include people who have never seen a dentist, who come for their first cleaning at age 50. Our work restores oral health and appearance, allowing people to really smile at their grandchildren for the first time. We are determined to deal with what new patients bring to our offices in a positive, restorative manner. Our goal is to treat patients.
Great rewards, grateful patients
After making 10,000 dentures, I've found it pays to be crazy—a little "cray-cray," if you will, lighthearted and casual. For example, I had a patient last year who was dissatisfied with his lower denture. He burst into the office at noon, yelled angrily at the receptionist and stalked back to my office to confront me.
When he opened the door, he saw a modest work area, with me eating a sack lunch and playing my favorite video game (NHL 17) on a big-screen TV.
"Dang, that's cool," he said. I invited him to sit down and discuss how we might make his situation more comfortable. Two months later, that same patient gave me a pair of white leather Reebok classic tennis shoes, which I still wear often. To a sneakerhead like myself, this was the most touching gift ever.
Denture patients can be notoriously difficult to manage: They are physically sick, frightened and angry. Some can't be pleased and demand their money back. But for every discouraging patient, there are a hundred more who are absolutely thrilled with the outcome and say their lives have been changed forever. Our mission is to serve all of these patients. They need help.
I'm grateful and excited to be featured in the Office Visit spotlight in next month's issue of Dentaltown. I hope you'll be sure to read it, and renew your subscription for this valuable resource. The article will discuss the products my practice prefers, as well as ways you can make your denture practice more predictable and profitable.
Cut out the remakes! Drop the refunds! We'll show you our flagship location and highlight our wonderful technicians and amazing team. It has been a crazy journey. Our #denturesquad is on point, so join us! Buy the ticket, take the ride. It's time you, too, give dentures a chance.
Discover the author's secrets of success in the next issue
Hundreds of Townies have signed up to be notified every time Dr. Ryan McCall posts on the message boards, so the November issue of Dentaltown will be a special treat for them: McCall gives us a tour of his Indianapolis practice and discusses the philosophies, products and services that have helped him be so successful.