Lots of people avoid going to the dentist. For some, it’s to avoid a potentially painful procedure but for many it’s because of the cost. Without insurance, the cost of procedures can quickly exceed $1,000.
Regina dentist Blake Mitchell is hoping to offer a more affordable option with a new clinic he’ll be opening, Simpli Dental.
In an effort to reduce costs, Mitchell will be cutting some overhead. He’ll be encouraging patients to book appointments online, and once they come in they won’t be greeted by a receptionist. Instead, there will be a station to check in, and then they will be brought in for their appointment.
“Realistically what we’re trying to do is we’re really trying to automate the systems and the processes behind the dental practice,” Mitchell explained.
“What we’re really trying to do and what the challenge will be is to make sure the quality of patient care remains the same.”
Construction is expected to begin soon at Simpli Dental’s location on the 100 block of Victoria Avenue. Assuming there are no delays, Mitchell anticipates opening in mid-March.
The College of Dental Surgeons of Saskatchewan has a fee guide, suggesting prices for a variety of procedures. The guide is reviewed and adjusted annually based on the cost of doing business.
Mitchell said the goal is not to undercut other dental offices, but offer certain procedures at a more affordable rate by reducing overhead.
“It’s not meant to take away from the existing dental practices, but more so to be a supplement to those practices who aren’t necessarily getting the treatment because of price,” Mitchell said.
Dental assistant Marissa Katzberg said she is happy to see a new affordable option coming to Regina.
“I feel like people that can’t afford to go to the dentist, it clogs up our emergencies. Often our emergency rooms are the first place people will go to if they can’t afford to come to a clinic,” Katzberg said.
She explained that things like a cavity won’t hurt until they’re infected. This infection can affect the heart and other vital organs if not treated. This means it is important to handle oral health before it goes beyond your mouth.
“It’s worse than just our mouth often,” she said.
While she is interested in how SImpli Dental runs, she wonders what the impact may be on the economics of running a conventional dental practice.
There is a demand for affordable dental care. Saskatchewan Polytech offers regular student clinic hours for a variety of procedures, some at a 60 per cent fee guide discount, and free Dental Days once a year.
Dental students at the University of Saskatchewan recently launched Direct Dental. This free clinic offers supervised procedures performed by students. There are three operating days scheduled in January, February and March.
The college has strict advertising rules, which limit how much Mitchell can discuss pricing, but they don’t regulate the prices themselves.
“We just don’t regulate that. We’re a complaint driven body, so if someone were to complain with us about a service they received or something of that nature that’s when we would get involved,” college executive director Jerod Orb explained.