Dr Eli Gold of the Burwood Dental Centre in Sydney’s inner west doesn’t pull any punches when discussing oral health. “I hate the fact that people dismiss tooth decay with the phrase, ‘I have a hole in my tooth.’ It would be much better if they said, ‘Oh no! I’m suffering from ‘tooth cancer!’ Then people might sit up and take notice about the condition of their teeth.”
It was this passion for oral health—and helping people—that inspired Dr Gold to sit down and write a book. He had been taking notes for years but the impetus to actually start putting it all together came from—all people—ex-PM Kevin Rudd. “It was back in 2007 when I saw Kevin Rudd make the pronouncement that climate change was the greatest moral challenge of our lifetime,” Dr Gold explains. “And I remember thinking that Australia was also facing the greatest oral challenge of our lifetime.”
That was all Dr Gold needed to get going. He wanted to create an informative, easy-to-read book on oral health that people would want to buy. He employed an illustrator to add some cartoons and had the finished product professionally edited—by one of his patients. “I was talking to her about the book and she liked the concept so much, she agreed to help me with the editing,” explains Dr Gold. In 2010, his 74-page book, How To Put Your Dentist Out Of Business, was launched.
This self-published book was originally only for sale at Dr Gold’s Burwood practice but recently he released an e-book version on Amazon. With sales of over 1000 copies, it has been a unmitigated success.
“The book doesn’t enable people to fix themselves but it may well motivate the general public to go to the dentist and take their kids. It’s written purely from the point of view of prevention. If you have teeth that are crooked, you can get braces; if your teeth are the wrong colour, you can get veneers—but if your teeth are bad there is a limit to what can be done.”
Dr Gold graduated in 1971 and, like many other dentists of that era, headed overseas to London to work. He was intent on experiencing a variety of practices and gaining as much experience as possible. “I was also searching to see what kind of a practice I would eventually own,” he recalls. On returning to Sydney, he took a job in Dr Lesley Greens’ s Bankstown practice and found an inspirational mentor. “I gained a real insight into performing dentistry of extremely high quality,” says Dr Gold.
In 1975, he joined a large three-chair practice in Burwood which at the time, was a suburb where the cost of dentistry was expensive for most families. Dr Gold explains, “As a health professional, I was always motivated to help people look after themselves. Dental health is probably one of the most preventable diseases of the body. If you can educate people young and train mothers to look after their kids’ teeth, then there won’t be any ongoing problems.”
He continues, “I really believe that the greatest challenge, especially of this century, is going to be health. The cost of health is escalating so looking after yourself will not only keep you fit but it makes perfect financial sense.” The Burwood Dental Centre has also initiated some smart marketing ideas to attract new clients and keep old clients coming back. Naturally, Dr Gold’s team keep their website up to date and run frequent upgrades. They were also one of the first dental practices to advertise on the Alan Jones show on 2UE radio. “That was 12 years ago,” says Dr Gold. “Now I hear all the implant guys advertising on the radio.” They also have a billboard outside Burwood railway station and this has turned out to be their most cost-effective forms of advertising.
The practice’s Patient Referral Reward provides a $50 voucher for any patient that refers a new client to the practice. The Corporate Dental Program offers a 10 per cent discount on dental treatments and free comprehensive dental accident coverage. The program is free to the businesses that join and covers not only employees but their families as well. The program is administered by the Dental Care Network.
“But our main source of new customers is word of mouth,” says Dr Gold. “If people are happy with your service, they are more likely to tell someone else to visit you. This dental practice has been at this address since the 1970s. The demographics change, the type of patients change but people know where we are and if they have a problem, they ring up or walk in.” Dr Gold thinks one of the best decisions he made was signing on with Dental Corporation in 2007. “I have actually finished my contract but I’m still working for them. I work three-and-a-half days a week, 30 hours a week, and I’m very happy. I’m rejuvenated and can focus on the dentistry and the patients’ needs. When I finally decide I don’t want to work anymore, then I can walk away.”
By amalgamating with another Burwood surgery run by Dr Miranda Adamou, Burwood Dental Centre is now a full-service operation with four dentists, two hygienists and an on-site ceramic dental laboratory headed by Chris Xeras. Patients are rarely referred to a specialist as everything can be done on site—and the feedback from clients has been nothing but positive. “Our clients prefer to have everything done in house rather than travelling to different locations for different procedures. The patients are comfortable here, they know the practice and they know they are going to get looked after.”
Now that Dr Gold’s book is available on Amazon, he is focusing on promoting the book, doing the dentistry and making sure the practice runs smoothly.
“Writing, publishing and promoting How To Put Your Dentist Out Of Business was never about making money,” says Dr Gold. “I wanted to make a difference to people and encourage them to make a difference for themselves. You simply can’t put a price on a labour of love.