Dr Fredinida Ygnacio-Nemenzo and Dr Antonio Alfredo E. Nemenzo, Cebu, Philippines

By Loran Simon | Interviews

Join us as Loran Simon, Founder of Somnowell Marketing and the Somnowell device, interviews dentists around the world and shines a light on dentistry and dental marketing in different countries. This interview is with Dr Fredinida Ygnacio-Nemenzo and Dr Antonio Alfredo E. Nemenzo, Cebu, Philippines.

Loran: Why did you become a dentist?

Drs Nemenzo: Dentistry is not really my first choice as a profession. ....I really wanted to become a Medical Doctor, but since way back then, the Medical course is really, really costly, not to mention, the longer years that is required for its completion.

I am the eldest of 7 siblings, so I also have to consider the financial capacity of my parents.

The next choice was Dentistry....still on the medical side, with lesser years and I thought with lesser cost.

And today, I can very well say that I made a good decision in choosing Dentistry as my profession. At first I looked at it as a profession with benefits, which indeed has improved not just my finacial status but my total being as well.

At first I joined as an associate dentist, then moved from one clinic to another with different partners until I established one on my own. ( later years joined by my wife, who is also a dentist)

Dentistry in my office has gradually evolved....From mechanically driven drills to pneumatic drills, from analog to digital radiographs, from conventional laboratories to CAD CAM Systems.....and so on....

For me, Dentistry is not just a Science but an art....a passion I have developed in my 34 years of practice.... - ( DR. ANTONIO ALFREDO E. NEMENZO )

Loran: What are the biggest marketing challenges that you face and how do you deal with them?

Drs Nemenzo: When we started our dental practice in the late 80’s, the word “ marketing “ usually refers to those selling products like equipments, appliances or machineries, and rarely, or even, never used in Dentistry.....

Also, here in our country, we are bounded by the Code of Ethics and it is still conservative. While there are still gray areas that needs to be addressed by the Professional Regulations Commissions, social media postings have been tolerated and has become a venue to share photos and information of one’s dental practice.

And since we are limitted in marketing , so we just rely on the word of mouth referrals. And through the prodding of our friends and office clients who are into IT, we also have joined the social media evolution by opening an account and a website. we try to maintain only general informations and conservative sharing of our actual clinic cases and thus, rely significantly on reviews or testimonies from patients to boost our practice...

Loran: Marketing has changed considerably in recent years. So what does that mean for dentists? Is it easier now or harder?

Drs Nemenzo: Yes, i agree that marketing has considerably changed in the recent years especially in our country. The google search engine undeniaby has been the convenient partner of most people..... everything is almost in the web....

So dentists or dental practice can now be easily searched and if you have a website, or an account in facebook or in other social media sites, it can be your direct or indirect marketing tool....

How does this mean for dentists? Well, this will surely boost one’s dental career or practice....more exposure would mean, more opportunities....

However, Marketing a Dental practice in the Philippines is still not allowed and is considered unethical, and can be a legal ground for revocation of one’s licence.

Not being able to join the market of promotions has also its disadvantage . We cannot compete globally, while our other neighboring Asian countries can.

Is it easier now or harder? I say it works both ways...easier if you are IT literate or if you assign or hire someone to do the job for you.... and harder if you are not on social media, IT literacy is low, or if you are limitted in resources and worst when marketing is restricted, like that in our country....

Loran: What role does cosmetic dentistry play in your practice today? And what do you think the future holds?

Drs Nemenzo: Because of social media, people now have more awareness and opportunities to avail dental care.....there are so many dental products and services available in the internet that patients are even the ones suggesting or recommending to their dentists....most of these are cosmetic issues.....

More patients come to the clinic wanting to improve their dental conditions....they want whitening, or esthetic improvement....they want smile makeover or anything that will give an impact on their looks....

This demand inspired me to acquire the CEREC CAD CAM System in my office. Digital 3D scanning and milling dont just make it quick and easy, but precise as well......And with this tool, we can make Digital Smile Design or proposals, making restorations predictable that is definitely an added advantage to the patient....and with an in- house laboratory technician, we are able to optimize a much improved esthetic and functional result.

Loran: How do you manage the dual roles of being a respected dentist and business owner? And what tips do you have for other dentists that are starting out.

Drs Nemenzo: Just like any profession, we have an Oath of Undertaking as a Dental Professional and we are guided by the Dental Law and the Code of Ethics.... even if we do business, if we respect and uphold what is prescribed, then we will be on the right track Although, I think, we cannot discount the possibility of professional rivalry or jealousy among colleagues but being grounded and staying focussed on being fair, honest and sincere in our actions/ decisions, can help overcome these challenges....

Respect is earned by the person that you are or have become, regardless of economic standing.

Loran: Tips for other dentists?

Drs Nemenzo: When I received my licence, I applied as Dental Associate to one of the most established dental office in our region. It was a different experience, considering that we were exposed to more modern equipments and materials compared to what we had in school. I would say that my experience there, greatly influeced the passion I now for Dentistry.

So to new dentists, I highly recommend that they first join established group practice...expose themselves to new equipments and technologies and learn as much as they can from established dental practitioners. And of course, to always keep in mind the Code of Ethics, no matter how challenging or tempting the circumstances are.

Loran: What do you think of the future of dentistry in your country...

Drs Nemenzo: Our country’s geographical location is very challenging with more than 7,000 islands and over 15 languages from different regions. Sadly, our country still belongs to a high caries index because of poor dental care and education, plus the insufficient support or budget for dental care from the government. However, because of the increasing dental health awareness program of the Dental Professionals, the academe, the different organizations and various government health care centers, dental health has improved....

The Dental Organizations are collaborating with government and non government organizations to constantly educate everyone the importance of good dental health and to provide free dental treatment and dental hygiene kits to the underprivileged.....

Although, it may still take years when we can totally eradicate poor dental condition of our people, but I am positive that we are getting there in time....

Social media and other technical resources can influence the people and will be instrumental to effect an improved dental health care in the Philippines.

I can see a big future of Dentistry in our country.....with more skilled dentists, upgraded equipments and digital machineries....

Cebu Dental Care Center may have pioneered with the chairside digital impression and CAD CAM System here in our region, but soon, there will be more digital systems around.....and I cant wait to see that one day, Dentistry in the Philippines has truly leveled up....globaly competive as any other country.

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About the Author

After generating more than 85,000 patients for our own dental lab, and for the clients of our digital marketing agency for dental practices, I cracked the code for running successful online marketing campaigns.