By Claire Harlin
In today’s tough economy, dental insurance may be one of the first expenses families are cutting out of their budgets, and local dentist Dale Trudeau has come up with a program to try to help out.
“I was noticing that longtime patients were skipping appointments and not bringing kids in because times are tough,” said Trudeau, who has for nearly 30 years operated Del Mar Family Dentistry in the California Bank & Trust building at 2775 Via de la Vallem Suite 103, Del Mar.
This month, Trudeau starting offering an in-house dental plan as an alternative to dental insurance.
“We looked at the costs associated with giving quality dental care to our patients and we saw that we could significantly reduce our treatment rates if we saw patients early in the process and encouraged the whole family to take part in the on-going care,” said Trudeau, adding that the rate for the plan is a better value when more family members take part. “We are seeing a lot of new patients who want the benefits. It’s really good for people who have a small business or have to buy insurance on their own.”
Being one of Del Mar’s longest standing family dental practices, Trudeau said he has enjoyed getting to know his patients over the decades and seeing them go through the many phases of their lives. He has kept nearly the same crew of employees at his practice since the beginning, including his hygienist, Beverly, and his wife, Lori, who started as a hygienist but now does administrative work.
“People like that continuity,” he said. “They like to see the same people when they come to the dentist.”
Trudeau said he loves working day in and day out with his wife, who he met in dentistry school at the University of Southern California, and even their daughter worked at the office’s front desk for a short time.
“People joke that we are Del Mar Family Dentistry, but we are also the family too,” said Trudeau, a Solana Beach resident whose kids, ages 22 and 24, went to Torrey Pines High School.
Besides friendly and trustworthy care, there are some other interesting things offered at Del Mar Family Dentistry, such as special “movie goggles” that patients can wear during treatment. A feature of the dental office for about 15 years, Trudeau said patients simply put on the goggles and choose from more than 200 movies. The movies help distract both kids and adults from the dental work.
“I’ve found that a lot of fearful patients come in and want sedation but once they try the movie glasses they don’t even need it,” Trudeau said.
He also does a lot of high-tech dental photography that allows him to see problems such as decay sooner than he would otherwise be able to.
“Being able to detect decay with a camera, that’s really cutting edge,” he said. “It shows up red on the camera, where in the past the only way we could check for decay was with an explorer, which sticks in the grooves if there’s decay.”
For more information on Del Mar Family Dentistry or its new dental plan, call (858) 755-9775 or visit www.drtrudeau.com.