The Group Dentistry Now Show with Dr. Eric Tobler

National Clinical Director and Stonehaven Dental Regional President Dr. Eric Tobler joins Group Dentistry Now and Overjet to discuss artificial intelligence and its impact on patient care and the dental industry.

Kentucky Dentists Could See Increase in Medicaid Reimbursements under New Bill

Dr. Philip Schuler, regional president of Mortenson Family Dental, commented on a proposed Kentucky bill that would establish a minimum reimbursement for dental services covered by Medicaid. Learn more in Becker’s Dental + DSO Review.

Why should you choose a career in dentistry?

Did you know that of the 25 jobs listed in U.S. News & World Report’s 2022 list of “Best Paying Jobs,” four come from the dental industry? Orthodontists, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, prosthodontists, and general practice dentists all made the list. But you don’t have to be a doctor to benefit from a career in dentistry. There are plenty of reasons why you might consider the dental field as your industry of choice.

Financial Stability

The findings above certainly establish dentistry as an industry with financial benefits. Indeed, while annual salaries for dentists have gradually increased in recent years, so have those for dental hygienists, dental assistants and administrative staff, according to survey findings from the American Dental Association’s Health Policy Institute. Mortenson Dental Partners (MDP) has recently increased compensation rates for doctors, raised salary ranges for dental assistants and added bonus opportunities to our generous compensation structure for hygienists. And, considering the importance of dental care for both oral and overall wellness, dentistry is an industry that’s here to stay.

Growth Opportunities

Whether you’re serving patients as a clinician, welcoming visitors at the front desk or assisting practices behind the scenes, the dental industry is abound with growth opportunities. For example, dental assistants often go on to become hygienists, dentists or practice managers, and hygiene assistants often become hygienists. In addition, hygienists sometimes pursue opportunities in education, public health or sales, while dentists can consider careers in clinical research, teaching and even forensics! One of the benefits of being part of a DSO is that all roles have the potential to advance to the executive level. In fact, one of MDP’s regional presidents started out as a front-desk business associate at one of our practices! With a robust learning and development platform and several continuing education programs, MDP fosters growth for team members looking to progress their careers.

Personal Fulfillment

What greater reward is there than helping others? Dentistry is highly respected for its contributions to health and wellness within the communities it serves. Among its many services, dental professionals relieve discomfort and restore confidence for their patients. All positions play a vital role in ensuring patients receive the care they need. It’s no wonder MDP’s mission is to improve the lives of others by living our values every day. 

We are hiring at all levels of our organization, in both clinical and support roles and across nine states! Apply with us today and make the dental industry your industry!

Dr. Britt Bostick Named One of 20 People to Know by Louisville Business First

Our chief dental officer, Dr. Britt Bostick, was included in Louisville Business First’s list of 20 People to Know: New Executives. You can read his full interview, including the most important leadership lesson he learned during the COVID-19 pandemic.

How Employee Ownership Benefits MDP Team Members

October is Employee Ownership Month! As an employee-owned DSO, Mortenson Dental Partners (MDP) is committed to having our team members share in our success. We strive to help team members not only feel like owners, but benefit like owners as well. MDP team members share in the overall success of the company through an employee stock ownership plan, or ESOP. Through our ESOP, shares of the company stock are invested into a retirement account as a free benefit for each team member.

Being an owner contributes to company success. 

As the ESOP Association explains, team members who are part of an ESOP are much more invested in and engaged with their organization. Because team members share in the success of MDP, they keep an eye on matters that make a difference, such as great clinical care, exceptional service, and operational best practices. These are the elements that determine whether an organization is simply good or strives for excellence.  

While some of our roles are more visible than others, all are important in ensuring the long-term success of our organization. Whether a business associate, EDDA, doctor, patient services specialist or CFO, all MDP team members are owners.

MDP supports the development of its owners.

In addition to the ESOP, MDP supports its team members in a number of ways. As discussed in a previous article, these include fostering an ownership mindset and endorsing the clinical autonomy of its providers. Team members also have access to a robust learning and development portal where they can find continuing education opportunities at no cost. One of MDP’s most powerful strengths is its family-oriented culture: team members care for each other like family, offering support and flexibility, as indicated by several of our recent internal culture and engagement surveys.

Join our team!

Being employee owned is one of the most important ways that MDP is different from other DSOs. If you’re interested in joining one of the largest groups of employee-owned dental practices in the country, we’d love to hear from you! Please view our Careers page for more information on how you can be an owner with our organization.

Dr. William Engilman Announces Retirement

Dr. William Engilman, President and Chief Information Officer of Mortenson Dental Partners, recently announced his retirement, effective July 15, 2021.

Dr. Engilman has long been an instrumental part of our organization. Most recently, Dr. Engilman helped to create and execute the strategic vision for Mortenson Dental Partners as a member of its executive leadership team. He has also been active in shaping the impact of our long-range planning and oversaw new technological and strategic initiatives to strengthen MDP’s overall operation and ultimately improve access to care and the patient experience. 

Dr. Engilman is a licensed orthodontist. He founded MDP’s BracesBracesBraces brand, which has grown to sixteen practices across Kentucky, Indiana and Texas. As an orthodontist, he has been known to donate free cases as part of the Smiles Change Lives program, which helps children from families who cannot afford the full cost of braces. In addition to this formal program, he also frequently discounted or provided free treatment to children who could not afford braces simply out of the love of his heart. Dr. Engilman would dress up for different holidays to bring fun to the practice and laughter to the patients he treated. His kind, humble demeanor eased the anxiety of his young patients and enhanced the trust and comfort of both the children and their parents. If another provider was sick or out of the office, Dr. Engilman was the first to volunteer to cover those shifts to ensure patients come first, often completing his executive leadership duties during the evenings and weekends.

Before becoming an orthodontist, Dr. Engilman received a degree in computer science and worked in the information technology field. This unique combination of expertise allowed Dr. Engilman to leverage technology to streamline doctors’ administrative duties, giving them more time with their patients. For example, he spent countless hours innovating a back office support network that allows doctors to focus on delivering care instead of managing administrative tasks like accounting, insurance processing, payroll and more. This network now supports over 200 doctors in nine states. Dr. Engilman also developed an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system that is unique to MDP, forming the overall vision and writing much of the programming himself. The system allows MDP to measure things like patient wait times and reappointments, as well as track patient feedback given through the Net Promoter Score (NPS). In addition, Dr. Engilman formulated MDP’s Patient Portal, which allows patients to easily schedule appointments and access their accounts. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Engilman served on MDP’s emergency response team, helping to develop different levels of contingency plans so we would be prepared to continue caring for patients.

As a member of Mortenson Charitable Foundation Board of Directors, Dr. Engilman has been central to philanthropic efforts. In addition to helping employees in crisis, the MDP Charitable Foundation donates to such community organizations such as Smiles for Life. Under Dr. Engilman’s leadership, MDP was the first company in Kentucky to raise over $100,000 for the American Heart Association (a total of $130,000). He also co-chaired MDP’s contribution to the Heart Walk benefiting the American Heart Association several years in a row. In 2018, he received the “Heart of a Servant” individual award by the American Heart Association for his dedication, inspirational commitment and invaluable volunteer service at the 2017 Heart Walk. MDP received the “With All Our Heart” Corporate Donor Award the same year. In 2021, Dr. Will was named a “Health Care Hero” by Louisville’s Business First, a recognition long overdue and well deserved. 

From businessman to IT specialist to practitioner to philanthropist, Dr. Engilman has led with a humble attitude, an inspiring vision and a generous heart. While his involvement in day-to-day operations is ending, Dr. Engilman will remain active as a member of the MDP Board of Directors. We are grateful for his caring and passionate contribution to Mortenson Dental Partners. His vision and innovative nature have propelled MDP to ongoing success and growth and will continue to be an influence for many years to come.

Ensuring Optimum Care and Safety with New Technology

Mortenson Dental Partners offers high-quality dental services that range from general and pediatric dentistry to orthodontics, prosthodontics and oral surgery. To deliver exemplary care, our providers need the best tools and resources available to use alongside their clinical expertise. MDP has always been committed to being on the cutting edge of the most advanced technologies in dentistry. In addition, coming off the recent COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring the best sterilization and safety practices remains paramount. For these reasons, we’ve equipped our practices with four new upgrades to enhance care while optimizing hygiene and safety.

Impressionless 3D Digital Scanners

Traditional impressions are created using a gooey, putty-like material that tends to be messy and not always accurate. The impressionless 3D digital scanner, on the other hand, uses digital technology to take highly accurate intraoral dental scans of teeth and gums. It is easy to use, features ultra-high precision sensors and creates high-resolution 3D images in only a few minutes. Whether it’s prosthetics, implant treatment, orthodontics, sleep apnea treatment or other areas, digital impressions enhance comfort for the patient and eliminate the risk of contaminated impression trays. Best of all, there’s no clean-up required! Our clinicians have been receiving the necessary training to maximize their expertise in these new scanners.

Slow-Speed Handpieces

We have recently increased the number of slow-speed handpieces and motors used across all practices to increase efficiency and align with patient flow. All restorative and hygiene handpieces comply with CDC sterilization requirements to ensure the safety of our patients.

High Volume Evacuation Systems

MDP hygiene operatories were equipped with a new high-volume evacuation system to address aerosols. In addition to aerosol reduction, the systems provide better visualization, illumination, and retraction during procedures, and are much easier for our hygienists to maneuver. For patients, the new systems offer less noise, greater fluid reduction and enhanced comfort over the previous version.

Waterline Treatment Systems

With the help and guidance of our clinical committee, we determined that waterline treatment is essential for the improved health and safety of our team and patients. MDP recently installed new water filtration systems in all practices. One system treats all units without chemicals added to patient water, making it safe, efficient and effective. 

Our goal is to deliver world-class dentistry by giving our providers the resources they need to be successful. This includes supplying any necessary training while keeping clinical autonomy in their hands. The combination of clinical expertise, advanced technology and peak infection control keeps MDP on the forefront of quality dental care and helps foster our mission to improve the lives of others every day.

Mortenson Dental Partners Raises $12 Million in Equity Offering

Louisville, Kentucky (June 1, 2021) — Mortenson Dental Partners (MDP) announced today that it has completed the private placement of $12 million from the sale of its common stock. The equity raise, available only to MDP doctors and team members, as well as its Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), adds 30 new investors. Because MDP is a 100% doctor- and employee-owned organization, external investors, including private equity and/or institutional investors, were not eligible for the equity offering.

Bill Becknell, Chief Executive Officer, commented, “We are thrilled by the response, support and trust of our team members in the equity raise. I would like to personally thank each participant and welcome the 26 new doctors and four new team member owners, who carry on the deep Mortenson tradition of doctor and employee ownership and exceptional patient care. Further, the participation of our ESOP in the equity raise through the confidence and diligence of our ESOP Trustee, TI-Trust, provides expanded ownership for all our ESOP employees.”

As one of the largest groups of employee-owned dental practices in the country, MDP has no private equity or institutional investors. Doctors and certain nonclinical team members who have made direct capital investments own a majority stake of Mortenson Family Dental Holdings, Inc. d/b/a Mortenson Dental Partners. The remainder is held by MDP’s ESOP, in which team members are automatically enrolled with no action or payment required. MDP makes annual contributions to the ESOP on behalf of the active employees, providing expanded benefits.

Becknell continued, “Doctor and team member ownership — and the ownership mentality that comes with it — is fundamental to who we are as an organization. With this structure, all team members personally contribute to a high-quality experience for each patient while also sharing in the success of the company.” 

“We are thrilled to have exceeded our $10 million offering expectations through a 20 percent oversubscription and with participation from 51 investors, at an average investment of $235,000,” shared Tim Hoagland, Director of Financial Planning & Analysis and Shareholder Relations. 

“The proceeds from the equity raise will be used primarily to pay down debt, while strengthening our balance sheet and providing new ownership opportunities for our doctors. We are extremely pleased with the support from our bank group,” Jeff Reibel, MDP’s Chief Financial Officer, explained. “The credit facility provides access to capital to fuel our continued investment in organic and acquired growth in the future. With a net promoter score of 94 and Google star ratings exceeding 4.8, MDP is continually focused on providing high-quality dental experiences to our patients while also expanding the number of communities we serve.”

Funds generated in the equity raise increase access to capital under the company’s recently expanded $90 million revolving credit facility, in which Fifth Third Bank, National Association acted as Joint Lead Arranger, Joint Book Runner and Administrative Agent; JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. as Joint Lead Arranger, Joint Book Runner and Syndication Agent; and Truist Bank as Documentation Agent. The credit facility matures in October 2025 and may be used for general corporate purposes, including acquisitions. It also contains an accordion feature to increase total commitments to $130 million. 

MDP continues to grow in each of the nine states in which it operates and is looking for passionate, care-focused team members. Those looking to learn more about the benefits of joining MDP can click here. More information about Mortenson Dental Partners can be found at www.mortensondentalpartners.com

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Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the federal securities laws, including statements related to the expected use of the net proceeds from the completed private placement. These forward-looking statements are based on current plans, expectations,  projections, forecasts and assumptions about future events that involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual outcomes and results to differ materially. Forward-looking statements relate to expectations, beliefs, projections, future plans and strategies, anticipated events or trends and similar expressions concerning matters that are not historical facts. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by the use of forward-looking terminology such as “may,” “will,” “should,” “could,” “would,” “estimate,” “project,” “forecast,” “intend,” “expect,” “plan,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “target,” or similar terms, variations of those terms or the negative of those terms. While forward-looking statements reflect good faith beliefs, assumptions and expectations, they are not guarantees of future performance, and the Company undertakes no obligation to update or revise its forward-looking statements, except as required by law. The forward-looking statements in this news release are based on a variety of assumptions that may not be realized and that are subject to significant risks and uncertainties. 

About Mortenson Dental Partners

Mortenson Dental Partners is one of the largest groups of doctor and employee-owned dental practices in the United States. Beginning as a single practice in 1979, MDP has grown to 140 offices across nine states and welcomes nearly one million patient visits each year. With services ranging from general and pediatric dentistry to orthodontics and oral surgery, Mortenson Dental Partners believes in offering high-quality dental care as part of its mission to improve the lives of others by living our values every day.

Dr. Britt Bostick Named Chief Dental Officer of Mortenson Dental Partners

Dr. Britt Bostick has been promoted to the position of chief dental officer of Mortenson Dental Partners. Previously serving as executive vice president, Dr. Bostick’s new responsibilities include overseeing clinical strategy and practice operations to ensure consistent delivery of quality dental care and exceptional patient experiences. Read more from Becker’s Dental + DSO Review.

Dr. William Engilman Named a “Health Care Hero” by Louisville Business First

Dr. William Engilman was selected as a Health Care Hero by Louisville Business First! Read Dr. Engilman’s full interview, including his definition of a “health care hero,” who he admires most, and what he believes is the biggest misconception about working in the health care field.

The Importance of Oral Cancer Screenings

April is Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness month. The Oral Cancer Foundation tells us that nearly 54,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or oropharyngeal cancer this year. Of the people newly diagnosed with these cancers, only about 57% will live longer than five years. Often, this type of cancer goes unnoticed by the patient until it has progressed to later stages. While smoking and alcohol consumption have long been known as risk factors, the incidence of oropharyngeal cancer among young non-smokers has steadily increased due to HPV16 — the same virus that causes more than 90% of all cervical cancers. In light of these findings, in 2019 the American Dental Association expanded their policy on early detection and prevention of oral cancer to include oropharyngeal cancer. The policy was broadened to cover all patients, not simply those at an increased risk due to tobacco and alcohol use. It also emphasized the vital role of the dentist in both educating and screening patients.

Oral Cancer Signs and Symptoms

The earliest signs of oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancer may be mistaken for other problems, such as a toothache or cold. If symptoms persist for several days or weeks, it is important for patients to see their doctor. Many of these symptoms can be due to other, less serious problems or other cancers. Signs and symptoms to watch for include:

  • Unusual lumps or bumps in the mouth and wart-like masses and mouth sores that do not heal.
  • Pain or difficulty swallowing or chewing.
  • Unusual nosebleeds or other bleeding from the oral cavity.
  • Distortion of any of the senses or numbness in the oral or facial areas.
  • Sore throat, hoarseness or ear pain.
  • Progressive swelling, enlarged lymph nodes, or shifting teeth.

Oral Cancer Screenings

We are pleased to offer oral cancer screenings at the vast majority of Mortenson Dental Partners practices. Many of our clinicians use VELscope, a non-invasive screening device that helps detect abnormalities that may not be visible with the naked eye. April is an ideal time to shed light on the importance of having screenings to detect oral cancer in its early stages. We will continue to do our part to educate our patients about the necessity of regular oral cancer screenings.

Celebrate National Dentist’s Day this Saturday!

Saturday, March 6 is National Dentist’s Day! While MDP celebrates our providers every day, National Dentist’s Day is an opportunity to show some extra appreciation for the hard work of our dentists and dental specialists, including our general dentists, pediatric dentists, orthodontists, oral surgeons and prosthodontists. As part of our celebration, we’ve combed history to recognize a few of the very first dentists and dental specialists.

First Dentist of Ancient History

The first recorded dentist, Hesy-Ra, lived and worked in Ancient Egypt around 2600 BC. He was known as the “Chief of Dentists” and was a person of high distinction under the pharaoh. According to New World Encyclopedia, the inscription on Hesy-Ra’s tomb reads, “The greatest of those who deal with teeth, and of physicians.”

First Women Dentist

Did you know that March is Women’s History Month? Women have played a vital role in dentistry. Emeline Roberts Jones was the first woman to practice dentistry in the United States. Since women were not allowed to enter dental school at the time, Jones secretly provided dental services until her husband allowed her to join his dental practice in 1855. Lucy Hobbs Taylor was the first woman to actually graduate from a dental school, earning her degree from the Ohio College of Dental Surgery in 1866.

First Pediatric Dentist

Another noteworthy woman in dental history is M. Evangeline Jordon, the first dentist to specialize in pediatric patients. Jordon began her career as a teacher and worked summers as a dental assistant, but eventually devoted herself to dentistry full-time, limiting her practice entirely to children in 1909. Jordon aimed to find methods for reducing children’s fear of going to the dentist. She also wrote and lectured on the importance of proper oral hygiene habits for kids.

First Orthodontists

While there is evidence that orthodontics has been around since ancient times, two French dentists are credited with progressing the field to where it is today. Pierre Fauchard developed a device called the “blandeau” in 1728, which helped to expand the mouth arch. Later, Louis Bourdet, who was dentist to the King of France, perfected the blandeau and was the first dentist to recommend extracting premolar teeth to ease crowding and to improve jaw growth. A century later, American Edward Hartley Angle developed the first classification system of malocclusion and the first school of orthodontia, establishing orthodontics as a specialty distinct from general dentistry.

First Oral Surgeon

Simon P. Hullihen is regarded as the “father” of oral surgery. Graduating as a medical doctor, he specialized in treating problems of the mouth and head, performing over 1,100 operations using instruments he invented himself.

First Prosthodontist

The practice of prosthodontics goes back to ancient times, when ancient Egyptians used gold wire to stabilize and replace missing teeth. However, the birth of modern implantology is often credited to Italian Manilo Formiggini, who developed a spiral stainless steel implant that allowed bone to grow onto the metal.

This National Dentist’s Day, give thanks to dentists for the important work they do to help keep our mouths healthy. If you’re a dentist looking for new opportunities, feel free to contact us.

What does the COVID-19 vaccine mean for the dental industry?

The first phase of the COVID-19 vaccination program is rolling out across the country. According to the December 14 survey conducted by the American Dental Association’s Health Policy Institute, 84% of dentists felt that it was either “extremely important” or “very important” for dental providers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. This was especially evident among older dentists, specialists, and dentists in large group practices. The vast majority of respondents also noted that their practice is not currently offering rapid response COVID-19 testing. Complete results of the survey can be found here.

Where does the dental industry fit into the COVID-19 vaccination program?

As recommended by the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, phase 1a of the program prioritizes healthcare workers, including dentists, dental hygienists and dental assistants. With vaccine administration being managed at the state level, there is some variation among states on exactly where dentists fit in compared to other healthcare workers. For that reason, the ADA has developed a helpful state-by-state map where individuals can see how dental providers are being prioritized. In the vast majority of states, dentists are listed as part of phase 1a, while a few states have them in phase 1b, and others have yet to determine their priority level. States also vary on whether or not a dental provider can administer the vaccine to others at this time.

Will MDP’s providers receive the COVID-19 vaccination?

In accordance with state prioritization guidelines, many of our providers and team members have already received their first COVID-19 vaccination. Not only will vaccinations keep our team members safe, but it will ensure that patients who come into our practices remain safe as well. As each of us awaits our turn to be vaccinated, we are making sure that our dental offices remain as safe as ever. We will continue to implement extra safety measures, as recommended by the ADA and CDC, in addition to the infection control procedures we have always followed. Our highest priority is the well-being of each person that walks through our doors. To learn more about MDP’s safety protocols, please click here.

Louisville Business First Selects Bill Becknell as a “Most Admired CEO”

Our own Bill Becknell has been selected as a “Most Admired CEO” by Louisville Business First. Read Bill’s full profile, including his leadership “recipe” for success, the biggest turning point in his career and how he has motivated team members during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo credit: Louisville Business First)

Why Dentistry Is Essential Care

In their interim guidance dated August 3, 2020, the World Health Organization advised that oral care deemed “routine” or “non-urgent” be delayed until COVID-19 transmissions are significantly reduced. While the ADA strongly disagreed with this recommendation, the recent rise in COVID-19 cases across the country has left many in the industry wondering whether governmental mandates delaying routine dental care will be put in place once again.

A mandate that delays “non-essential” dental care suggests that the dental practice could be fertile ground for COVID-19 transmission. However, the facts speak otherwise. Since the pandemic began, MDP has served hundreds of thousands of patients with no suspected patient-to-team or team-to-patient COVID-19 transmissions in any of our practices. While we have always implemented standard safety protocols, throughout the pandemic we have exercised additional levels of precaution as recommended by the American Dental Association (ADA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These include increased personal protective equipment for both clinical and non-clinical team members, screening of patients and team members for COVID-19 symptoms, disinfecting and sterilizing surfaces more frequently, and limiting seating in our welcome areas. More details about our safety protocols are found here.

Moreover, delaying dentistry deemed “non-essential” also suggests that this type of care is not as important to a patient’s health and well-being. During the initial COVID-19 lockdowns, this type of care included the treatment of periodontal disease, dental caries, and various other viral, bacterial and fungal diseases. An oral problem that may seem non-essential, such as a cavity, can grow to a much more severe problem if not treated early, leading to more complicated and expensive procedures down the road. Additionally, as these conditions escalate, patients turn to emergency rooms for treatment during a period of time when the healthcare system needs to be focused on caring for COVID-19 patients.

Delaying treatment for many oral conditions can be severely detrimental to a patient’s overall health. For example, “routine” dental care that was suspended earlier in the year also included screening for oral cancer and oral manifestations of other systemic diseases. The Osteopathic Family Physician provides a list of diseases with oral manifestations (see Table 1, page 21). These diseases may initially present in the oral cavity, but are connected to the overall systemic health of our patients. Some emerging research even suggests a link between gingival disease and COVID-19 mortality. 

Early detection of many oral diseases can often be a matter of life and death. As ADA President Chad P. Gehani, D.D.S. so correctly declared, “Dentistry is essential health care because of its role in evaluating, diagnosing, preventing or treating oral diseases, which can affect systemic health.” Dentistry should never be deemed non-essential.