Have you ever heard a group practice?
Hello, I am Dr. Kiyoshi Amano, director of the Amano Dental Clinic. Let me introduce the American-style dental team treatment approach called “group practice.”
A group practice is a treatment approach that allows dentists to collaborate with other specialists to provide the optimal effective treatment to patients. In the U.S.A., a number of dental clinics take this approach for a long time. It offers many advantages over the traditional single dentist approach. In many cases, multiple dentists treat patients. Because each dentist of a dental team provides the treatment for only the specialized area, the patients are able to receive the best treatment.
Adopting the group practice, the Amano Dental Clinic aims at providing the best dental care available to our patients. Our dental team consists of six well-trained, highly-skilled dentists.
After graduating from Tokyo Dental College, I spent five years in the U.S.A. At Marquette University School of Dentistry, I studied and conducted research on prosthodontic, bridges, crowns, implants and dentures. I also visited many general and specialized dental clinics to learn the American dental care system. I was especially interested in group practice and collaboration of dentists. Patients were treated by specialists, including prosthodontists, oral surgeons, periodontologists, endodontists and orthodontists.
At a Japanese dental school, students learn specialized as well as general practice. Students in a prosthodontic program, for example, perform comprehensive treatment as well as prosthodontic treatment. It is probably to prepare for the real world after the school. Regardless of a specialty at a school, many dentists solely practice overall treatment, ranging from simple inlay, extraction, root canal and gum treatment.
In the U.S.A., on the other hand, students specialize in a particular field of study. During my graduate work, I practiced only prosthodontal treatment and other graduate students provide other treatment to my patients as needed. After completing the degree, the majority of dentists opens clinics as specialists or become members of group practices.
Working in a group practice, dentists will have more resources, and their patients in turn will get better treatment. For example, a prosthodontist refers a patient who needs root canal therapy during the bridge work to an associate endodontist, and to a periodontist for gingivitis treatment.
Almost all dentists in Japan operate solo dental practices. Because the same dentist provides all the dental care, a patient can build strong relationships with the dentist. Treatment will become more personal. However, no dentist is specialized in every field. An expert in orthodontics may not be good in oral surgery. With a few exceptions, all treatment is taken care by one dentist. As a result, patients may not receive the best treatment available. If the dental condition gets worse or keep coming back after being treated, it may be because the dentist is not an expert in that field.
In 1993, I came back to Japan and immediately noticed a quality gap in dental care; especially endodontics. Endodontics is far advanced in the U.S. compared to Japan, where many patients end up losing teeth due to inadequate treatment. Since then, I have been thinking about how I will be able to improve the Japanese dental care.
I value the benefits of group practices. Adopting the American-style group practice, I finally established the dental team, consisting of two highly-trained endodontists, a periodontologist, orthodontist and two oral surgeons. We are now able to provide the specialized and best dental treatment available in the world.
Amano Dental Clinic