If something seems too good to be true, it may just be too good to be true, Louise Beddow says.

‘Buy cheap, pay twice’ and ‘you get what you pay for’ are common phrases in the world of the consumer. Indeed, you may even have muttered it to yourself when confronted with some shoddy bridgework or an implant from a questionable source.

The dental market has become a bit of a minefield of late – thanks to the plethora of cheap imports and counterfeit appliances peddled via the internet. In fact in 2016, more than 700 counterfeit dental drills were seized over a four-year period – with some clever replicas that were identical to some well-known brands available on Ebay at ridiculously knock-down prices.

Trust is a key element to any business. In dentistry, it must exist within the surgery, of course, but also within a supply chain – the dealer (trusted by the dentist) needs to trust the dental company to purchase and provide safe and approved products from reputable and
trusted suppliers.

Whilst instruments and devices now have the eyes of the authorities upon them (thank goodness), the responsibility for other acquisitions lies very much in the hands of the practice owner, including the choice of dental plans.

Competition gives us options to help keep bank balances buoyant and the world of commerce spinning. However, practice owners would do well to think before jumping into making decisions based on price tag alone. Drill down and you may discover that gaps in provision will end up costing you valuable time and money – and eat into your bottom line.

Therefore, apply the same caution to choosing your dental plan provider as you would the purchase of any dental equipment and ask the following:

Does the company have a long and established history?

Be mindful of the lack of experience associated with any new kid on the block. Also be wary of any company that boasts about significantly under-cutting the competition – some things are too good to be true! Established firms, with products and services tried and tested over time, are often the safest route both financially and for longevity. A company with a 20-year history will have considerable expertise in helping make set ups or switches seamless.

When will I see the financial benefits?

Savings should become apparent over a period of time as, month by month, patients move over to the new plan provider. With us, on published fee rates with alternative providers, for every 1,000 patients, practices have been known to save as much as £10k per annum.

Will I get appropriate support and training?

There’s more to a sound financial investment than saving money. Ongoing support that allows you to grow and get on with the business of dentistry and takes away the administrative headaches is a vital component of any service you’re buying into. Although you will see upfront cost savings by opting for the cheapest provider, when is saving money actually costing you?

Does it come with instructions?

Any reputable branded dental plan provider should offer end-to-end guidance – from the launch and promotion to the brochures and mailings to in-practice training.

Meetings prior to the switch of the plan are essential for a smooth transition, so make sure you ascertain the amount of time invested in you and your team before making the final decision.

The provider should also chase ‘unpaids’, answer any patient queries and plan well in advance on behalf of your practice and communicate this to patients. Therefore, there should be no need for instructions!

Am I missing anything?

Be sure to read over everything to make sure you’re not missing anything – and speak with other practice teams that use the same product.

A hidden cost or two can be an unwelcome surprise further down the line, so do take the time to ask plenty of questions in order to make the best choice for you, your profits and your patients.


DPAS is a specialist provider of practice-branded dental plans for your practice and patients, offering everything the team needs to implement and promote plans effectively. For further information, visit www.dpas.co.uk, email [email protected] or call 01747 870 910.