Can You Use a Relationship Drug?




I don’t mind talking about dentistry…anywhere, anytime.  So, when a friend approached me in the gym and asked how business was, I told him, “It’s been slow.”  He then felt compelled to tell me, “Well, if you guys would lower your fees, you’d get more business,” as I stared at the gap in his smile that he never fixed.

Funny how people reduce complex problems down to a simple cause.  Most people can’t live with the idea of unsolved complex problems.  The answer to getting more business into a dental practice is not to simply lower fees.

But I love to talk dentistry, so I told him a story.

I asked him to imagine a dental experiment in which a dentist did the exact same procedure on ten different patients.  Let’s say it was a simple single surface filling on a lower molar.  He was following me because he was familiar with the terms filling and molar.  I didn’t want to confuse him, and I didn’t know how much dentistry he knew.

The procedure, I told him, required an injection, some drilling and then putting in the filling.  He nodded.  Then I asked him, “Do you think the procedure would be exactly the same for each patient?”

He gave me an understanding look…he was a master of the obvious.  He said, “No, each patient was different.”

“Yes, some would move, some would cry, some would scream, some would salivate too much…the variables are endless…and those ten scenarios only included the patients who made it for their appointed time,” I said.

Once again, full comprehension.

So I asked, should the fee be different for each one?

Now he looked baffled…actually upset, stymied, dumbfounded.  No answer.

I felt sorry for him, because my intention is to educate not aggravate, so I proposed a different solution:

“What if the dentist added a drug to the Novocaine that filled each patient with a high level of trust…love almost.  A strong feeling of attachment was created by this drug.”

He laughed and said, “Sure…can’t ever happen.”

“What if I told you that the drug already exists…and actually we humans can create our own.”

I had his attention.

“It’s called oxytocin.  It’s a hormone and a neurotransmitter (was pushing it with this word) that women secrete during childbirth.  I even use it as a dog breeder to help the girls give birth and start lactation.  It’s been called the hormone of love.”

He was wondering where I was going with this, so he said, “Why don’t you guys use it?”

“Because it’s not available here in the U.S.  The Swiss have a version that’s inhalable.  But we really don’t need it.  Recent research shows that if a person feels that they are around someone or something that expresses love, trust or the desire to bond, then their levels of oxytocin increase.  In other words we can manufacturer it ourselves.”

“So what good does that do us,” he said.

“Well, if there wasn’t all of this distrust in our culture, if there wasn’t so much self-interest going on, if people , including dentists didn’t worry so much about getting theirs, well, that would be a solution.”

“When pigs fly, ” he said.

Not really, if each of us takes the responsibility to really care about the other…things will change.  If not, capitalism in health care will need more and more regulation.  Or we can just lower our fees.

 By the way this conversation was a presentation of sorts…can you see why?