Nowhere, USA– Every dentist and dental student is probably already aware of the rapid rise of dental service organizations (DSOs), but what about the increased prevalence of garage dentistry? Whereas DSOs give a dentist a chance to earn a decent living with some employee benefits but without the headaches of owning a practice, garage dentistry allows a dentist to own and manage their own practice without the high overhead costs and government oversight.
Recently, The Facebow was able to talk to Dr. Gordon Smith (not his real name), a dentist who has been working in a garage setting for an undisclosed amount of time, about some of the benefits and drawbacks of doing garage dentistry as opposed to working in a traditional practice setting.
The Facebow: What are your favorite aspects of practicing dentistry in your garage?
Dr. Smith: Oh boy. Where do I start? First of all, I don’t have to deal with any insurances. All of my patients know they are required to pay cash at their appointments, and I couldn’t send out bills even if I wanted to. I don’t have my patients give me any of their personal information. I take HIPPA seriously. Second, if I get some open time in my schedule I can replace the spark plugs in my lawnmower. I couldn’t do that if I worked in an office. Finally, I don’t have to deal with any of those pesky consent forms. Skipping those saves so much time. I could go on and on, but I have patients waiting in my front yard so we need to move this along.
The Facebow: How do the overhead costs of garage dentistry compare to traditional practice?
Dr. Smith: The overhead costs of garage dentistry are much lower than traditional practice costs. For example, we are able to re-use syringe tips, the fold-up table I have patients lay on is cheaper than a dental chair, and I have each patients bring their own assistant. It’s so nice that I don’t have to employee my own staff. The patients like that I ask them to bring their wife or mother-in-law or whoever to assist. When I was in private practice many adults would bring someone to hold their hand during their appointment anyway, so I may as well put them to work.
The Facebow: What about the severe health risks to patients that have been reported?
Dr. Smith: Well, you said it. There have been some reported, but they aren’t confirmed. My studies have shown that the toaster oven I use to sterilize my instruments kills almost as much bacteria as an autoclave.
The Facebow: What would you say to a dental student who is considering a career in garage dentistry?
Dr. Smith: I think garage dentistry is the best option for a dentist at any career stage! Income is great. Income taxes are very low. I’m home for lunch every day. No one wants to go work in rural America when they can do what I’m doing. And who doesn’t want to wear coveralls to work every day? I’m living a dream.