Gums in recession: Survival guide for tough times

Editor's note: Richard Geller's column, Marketing Madness, appears regularly on the advice and opinion page, Second Opinion.

Dentists are asking me a lot if they need to participate in the current financial panic.

Is it mandatory, they ask, or is it optional?

And will a bit of your favorite benzodiazapine help in the long run or only in the short run?

Okay, here are my answers.

Yes, benzodiazapines help you feel better. And they may also help your patients feel better especially when it comes time to pay your bill. But go easy on them and make sure you take one of the better courses on anxiolysis or oral conscious sedation before jumping whole hog into dispensing pills.

Try to take your mind off your 401(k) during working hours. Your hands will shake uncontrollably and that doesn't do justice to your otherwise fine work.

We are entering some very tough economic times, but fortunately you are in a profession that can come through with flying colors.

The secret is to learn how to change your marketing, case presentation, and billing practices to adjust for the new economic realities.

For instance, many country dentists in the past accepted a live chicken or two in exchange for an extraction. And with precious metals prices the way they are, you may find there is enough gold in them thar tooth to cover any payment that may remain after the live chickens have been tendered.

Also, because electricity may be hard to come by, you may want to get one of those pedal handpiece gizmos we all used to see when we went to the dentist as kids.

The old ones let you operate a low-speed handpiece via pedaling. But the new ones I am told, just coming out, will let you get to 50,000 RPMs and run the latest turbo handpiece. Even lasers can operate via pedaling, provided you can pedal at close to the speed of light.

Check these out at Chicago Mid-Winter.

And don't forget to set aside part of your waiting room as a chicken coop.

I will have some other tips, these perhaps a tad more serious, in an upcoming article. Meanwhile, please make sure you get my awesome digital edition of the best-selling book of all time on case presentation at

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

Copyright © 2008

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