Billion Healthy Mouths Club

Dr. Karolina Dudalska-Lisnyj: “Prevention can be profitable, but patients need to understand that prophylaxis is always cheaper than restoration.”

Without proper oral hygiene, there is no long-lasting effect of any dental treatment.

Since 2018 she has been running her own dental office. Thanks to her clear vision of the practice, the dental office of Dr. Karolina Dudalska-Lisnyj – located in the town of Prabuty, northern Poland – is one of few practices in the region that provides a wide range of prevention services. The focus on prophylaxis and the whole dental team’s will to educate patients regularly brings new patients to the practice, who come based on the recommendations of others. Read our interview with Dr. Karolina Dudalska-Lisnyj to learn how a prevention-based dental office can be profitable, and what issues dental professionals in Poland face.

What was your path to dentistry? Why did you decide to study dentistry?

As a young patient I remember watching my dentist work and thinking how great it would be to become like her in the future. Every single day you do the same things, but every day brings a new challenge. From this point forward, being a dentist became my dream and the goal that I have been striving for throughout my whole education. Thanks to this experience from childhood, now my work is my passion and my passion is my work.

What were the beginnings of your professional career? And what does your daily practice look like now?

In 2012 I graduated from my dental studies, and one year later I obtained the medical license for the practice. At the very beginning I worked in several dental practices at the same time. However, it quickly became apparent that I had my own ideas on how I wanted to run a dental office. Fortunately, in 2018 I was able to open my own office.

Today, I employ a dental hygienist, a registrar and I am currently looking for a new assistant. Additionally, in our practice there is also a dental surgeon.

In our daily work, we focus primarily on an individual approach to the patient. We try to put great emphasis on prophylaxis, including oral hygiene.

I think that especially the way of approaching patients, understanding their needs and adjusting the prevention and treatment according to their individual needs are the main values that our dental office stands on.

Is there anything about your dental practice that you find unique or different when you compare it with the competitors?

I think that my practice does have some kind of unique atmosphere. We are also glad that our office is the only one in this area that provides such a well-developed range of preventive services. We also devote most of our time to teaching our patients about proper oral hygiene, which is unfortunately not so common here.

“In our daily work, we focus primarily on an individual approach to the patient. We try to put great emphasis on prophylaxis, including oral hygiene.”

What parts of your daily work do you enjoy the most?

Of course, I like the end of long and complicated treatments. To see the smile on my patient’s face and feel his or her satisfaction – this definitely gives me the energy to work. It is also very pleasant when new patients come thanks to recommendations from those who have already finished their treatment with us.

You have mentioned that your dental office provides a well-developed range of preventive services. What does the word prevention mean to you? And can you tell us more about the ways you approach it at your dental practice?

I can say that prophylaxis is basically a treatment in my office. Because without proper oral hygiene, there is no long-lasting effect of any dental treatment. Today we live in an era when orthodontic appliances, implants and veneers are quite common and trendy, but some specialists forget that a patient who has not been taught proper oral hygiene will not be able to maintain these implants, or other results of these complicated treatments, for a long time. Patients just underestimate prophylaxis, so we are trying to show them the beneficial effects of it and encourage them to take care of their own oral health.

Based on your experience – do you think it’s possible to turn a prevention-based dental office into a profitable model?

Looking at my office, it is definitely possible for prophylaxis to be as profitable as other branches of dentistry. But at first, dentists need to change the way their patients think about it. It is important to show them that even the most expensive prophylaxis is cheaper than any restorative treatment.

Moreover, there is one thing that is forgotten often, and this is the final outcome of a dental treatment – which is always better and lasts longer when combined with proper oral hygiene. When prevention is approached properly, patients are more satisfied with the final effect of their treatment, they feel more cared for, and last but not least they recommend the office to others, which definitely affects the income of the practice. I am sure that putting a focus on prophylaxis always pays off.

Welcome to the Billion Healthy Mouths Club

Proper routines in prevention are the future of dentistry – that’s why we at Curaden launched the Billion Healthy Mouths Club – a community of dental professionals committed to the importance of prevention and a holistic approach to dentistry. Dentist Karolina Dudalska-Lisnyj is one of those dental professionals who shares these values, and we proudly present her experience and thoughts with other like-minded people from the field. Keep reading our Gently magazine to discover more interviews with forward-thinking professionals from around the world.

You have already mentioned that a big part of your job is educating your patients. You also share various educational posts on your practice’s social media. What ways of teaching your patients you use?

For me personally, the basis of prevention is education. My assumption is that you can’t expect something from a patient if you haven’t taught it to them first. Together with the hygienist, I try to show, teach and explain how patients have to take care of their oral cavity. Of course, we start with instructions in the office where all hygiene is adjusted to the individual needs of the patient.

We also try to develop the correct patterns from an early age. Once a year we attend prevention lessons in kindergarten. We have also started educating pregnant women. Events promoting prevention are regularly carried out in our dental office.

Our social media channels – Facebook and Instagram – also turned out to be very helpful in educating the public. We can show at least an outline of what proper hygiene should look like to a wider group of people. And it works as a bait: we arouse their interest in the topic, and then the patients come to the office and learn something more.

“When prevention is approached properly, patients are more satisfied with the final effect of their treatment, they feel more cared for, and last but not least they recommend the office to others.”

How do you educate yourself?

In my own education I focus on various types of courses. The courses that are mainly directed at hygienists are very interesting for me. I think that, unfortunately, too little is said about prevention during the courses for doctors.

What’s the level of oral heath in your country? What are the issues that need some major improvements?

The level of oral hygiene in Poland is quite low, but when it comes to prevention and its promotion, it is even worse. Problems begin during pregnancy, when mothers do not know how to take care of their mouths and, later on, also of their baby’s oral heath. The effects are immediate caries in milk teeth, which of course, if left untreated leads to caries in permanent teeth and other consequences.

We still need to fight the myths like “it’s ok if milk teeth get rotten”, “oral hygiene is just an aesthetic procedure” or “my teeth got damaged because of pregnancy”.

The overall management of patients between dentists and medical teams or doctors of other specialisations, requires improvement. There is also a lack of large campaigns promoting the importance of a healthy mouth, and educational programs for the elderly in particular, who are completely forgotten in dentistry.

What are your future plans professionally? What would you like to improve in the future?

In the future, I would definitely like to develop the dental office further – invest in new equipment, but also hire new people. I also plan to carry on educating myself in various topics connected to oral health.

You are really very passionate about your work. But how do you keep the work-life balance? What are your favourite ways to relax?

I once promised myself that my work, despite the fact that it is my great passion, will not consume my whole life. I try to set hard working hours, to be able to enjoy motherhood and being a wife. I’m so thankful to my parents that I’ve been able to make my dream come true today, and my daughter and my husband keep driving me to take on new challenges and setting myself new goals. Besides spending time with my family, I love to read, and recently I’ve started doing macramé.

Karolina Dudalska-Lisnyj is a dentist based in the town of Prabuty, northern Poland. Since 2018 she has been leading her own general dental practice providing endodontics, prosthetics, pediatric dentistry and esthetic dentistry. She is married and has one daughter. If you would like to learn more about Dr. Dudalska-Lisnyj’s daily practice, follow her on Instagram or Facebook.

Photos: Estera Figura