Hawthorn Woods practice offers reasons to stop ditching the dentist
John Edgar, a dentist at Hawthorn Woods Family Dental Care, recently received the Lake Zurich Area Chamber of Commerce's best business of the year award. | Ryan Pagelow~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 8, 2013 6:31AM
HAWTHORN WOODS — As many as 35 million people in the U.S. are said to be too frightened to see the dentist.
Hawthorn Woods Family Dental Care, however, still manages to bring in an average of 1,200 eager new patients every year.
Dr. Jeffrey Copeland, one of the practice’s dentist, explained that cost and pain rank atop the most common reasons people decide to ditch the dentist. He added that embarrassment about the condition of one’s teeth, and fear of injections, also motivate some to avoid the dentist.
Despite those hurdles, Copeland reported that the local practice has proved successful, earning 5,500 regular patients from around the area.
The office opened in 2007 when Copeland’s partner, Dr. John Edgar, sold his Chicago practice of 30 years. Together, they brought in about 400 new patients by the end of their first month.
Copeland attributes much of the practice’s success to a professional, yet personable staff, which also includes orthodontist Dr. Shaun Varghese and dental hygienists. For instance, Copeland said staff members pride themselves on their ability to ensure that patients feel physically and mentally comfortable by listening to the patient and understanding his or her individual needs.
“When you have a nice, personable hygienist or an assistant to make you feel comfortable, it’s a lot easier to get yourself through the door to the dentist the next time,” Copeland said.
Copeland started working at the practice soon after it opened. He became Edgar’s partner shortly thereafter. Today, Edgar is gradually passing more responsibility on to Copeland, as he wishes for Copeland to take over the lead role when he transitions into retirement.
Copeland and Edgar share similar philosophies about conservative dentistry and preserving the health of the natural tooth. That strategy avoids, they explained, avoids unnecessary aggressive measures, and is one of the reasons patients trust their care and expertise.
Patients also have said they’ve come to trust and appreciate the dentists’ consideration of their finances when it comes to treatment options.
“We try to make sure that everybody knows everything up front before it’s done, as opposed to getting a big surprise when they go to pay,” Copeland said. “We want to make sure that our customers are not only comfortable when we are treating them, but also comfortable with the treatment — we know that we are not your only bill.”
They noted that this sometimes mean a patient may opt against any treatment at all, if the cost is more than the patient can afford.
“These are tough times and we are sensitive to that, so we try to work with our patients and help them with the financial part of it,” Edgar said.
Instead of completing a patient’s treatment over the course of two months, for instance, the dentists offer treatment plans that can span three years. With that approach, Edgar said they can still keep their patients’ teeth in good shape during a financial hardship.