Dental membership: A new way to a happier, healthier smile

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  • Meagan Zastrow checks out her smile with her husband, Dr. Brent Zastrow, at her side in one of Total Wellness Dentristy’s exam rooms. (ANDREAS BRAUNLICH/Press)

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    Everyone at Total Wellness Dentistry is ready to help patients have a new way to smile. Back row, from left: Meagan Zastrow, Gretha Lawrence, Selina Gray-Trask, Kimberly Taylor and Kaylee Cook. Front left to right: Dr. Brent Zastrow and Dr. Kelly Harness. (ANDREAS BRAUNLICH/Press

  • Meagan Zastrow checks out her smile with her husband, Dr. Brent Zastrow, at her side in one of Total Wellness Dentristy’s exam rooms. (ANDREAS BRAUNLICH/Press)

  • 1

    Everyone at Total Wellness Dentistry is ready to help patients have a new way to smile. Back row, from left: Meagan Zastrow, Gretha Lawrence, Selina Gray-Trask, Kimberly Taylor and Kaylee Cook. Front left to right: Dr. Brent Zastrow and Dr. Kelly Harness. (ANDREAS BRAUNLICH/Press

Get to know Total Wellness Dentistry

Open House Meet the staff, check out the office and find out how membership dentistry can help you

When: Tuesday, Aug. 21, from 6 to 8 p.m.

Where: 8382 N. Wayne Drive, Suite 202, Hayden

www.anewwaytosmile.com

208-803-0263

When Dr. Brent Zastrow spoke to dental school professors about his vision of a practice that would make high quality dentistry accessible and affordable for more people, they often shook their heads.

They didn’t think the business model Dr. Zastrow had in mind for a dental practice - an annual membership fee offering unlimited dental services - would work.

“They said, ‘You can’t charge so little on this case that you could be making $30,000 on,’” said Dr. Zastrow’s wife, Meagan.

But Dr. Zastrow went into dentistry to help people, and working as a dental assistant prior to dental school, he saw how challenging the high cost of care and limited insurance benefits for people seeking care can be.

He had faith and the belief that dentistry can be affordable, and while in dental school, and during four years as a dental officer in the U.S. Navy, he developed a plan.

Total Wellness Dentistry opened a year ago in Hayden and began offering “a new way to smile,” a dental membership practice that is the first of its kind.

Dr. Zastrow and Meagan, North Idaho natives who graduated from Coeur d’Alene High School, are happy with the result.

“We’ve had a really good response. Our patients are happy. People are coming to us who haven’t been to the dentist in 30 years and never thought they would be able to get their work done,” Meagan said. “Since opening our doors last year, we have over 375 Members with a variety of needs from a couple simple fillings to full mouth reconstruction.”

For most people, the cost of dental care is the greatest barrier to healthy teeth and gums. The American Dental Association reports that 56 percent of individuals say the main reason they don’t visit the dentist is cost.

Even with dental insurance, there are still economic obstacles to care, including high deductibles, premiums, spending caps and costs not covered by insurance.

Out-of-pocket spending for dental services accounts for about 40 percent of all dental expenditures, according to data compiled by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

At Total Wellness Dentistry, the one-time initial membership fee for one year is $2,000 for an individual and $3,000 for a family. After the first year, the annual renewal is $600 for individuals and $1,000 for families.

“They’re able to get their treatment in a reasonable amount of time, for a lot less money,” Meagan said.

And they’re able to lead happier, healthier lives, smiling with confidence and enjoying eating again.

The membership covers a wide variety of services offered by Total Wellness Dentistry including cleanings, fillings, sealants, root canals, crowns, bridges, veneers, extractions, implants, dentures and more.

The only extra charge, in addition to the membership fee, is for any materials fees for certain procedures like crowns, implants, bridges, veneers and dentures.

For a single crown, the material cost is roughly $150 in addition to the membership fee, Meagan said, just whatever Total Wellness Dentistry has to pay a lab to make those materials.

“Our goal is to get our members all the treatment they need in the first year, and then to educate and help them maintain a healthy mouth after that,” Meagan said. “They can come in for their cleanings and we’re still here for emergencies and anything they need.”

Total Wellness Dentistry warranties any work they do, as long as patients maintain their membership, Meagan said. If a crown or implant fails, the practice pays the cost to fix it, so patients don’t have to pay lab fees again.

Although Total Wellness doesn’t take insurance, they still have members who come to them with dental coverage in place.

“In some instances, it’s still cheaper for them to pay our membership fee and get their work done with us.” Meagan said.

Eschewing insurance has its benefits for the dentist and his patients.

“Dr. Zastrow can just look at their mouth, look at what needs to be treated, and work with the patient,” Meagan said. “You don’t have to worry about, ‘Is my insurance going to cover this?’ ‘Do I have to wait a year for this procedure because I just had this other procedure done and maxed out my benefits this year?’”

It helps keep the practice’s costs lower because they don’t need extra people on the payroll to deal with billing and coverage issues. And it keeps the focus on the patient rather than on how much money can be made per procedure.

“We had a patient the other day who said it was going to cost her almost $2,000 to get one tooth fixed,” Dr. Zastrow said. “She remembered hearing about us and thought, ‘I can get all my teeth fixed for almost the same price.’ It’s just a paradigm shift.”

He said most people’s stories begin with one tooth causing problems. When they find out the cost to take care of it, they find they can’t afford it.

“They just give up caring. They think, my mouth’s always going to hurt. I’m always going to be in pain.”

Since opening his practice, Dr. Zastrow has seen more and more people make that shift, and the practice has made changes to accommodate them.

Total Wellness Dentistry opened in July 2017 with just two employees. They have since hired another doctor, a dental hygienist and three more dental assistants.

The office is now offering expanded hours on Tuesday evenings, to provide more availability for members. To make it easier for people to become members, the practice now offers financing through Numerica Credit Union, for the annual membership fee.

“Dr. Zastrow and everyone here, we really care,” Meagan said. “We want you to have a good experience. We want you to be happy.”

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