By Susan Richards
Although David H. Pier, DMD now has two thriving practices in mid-coastal Maine, that wasn’t the original course he charted growing up in northwestern New Jersey. His father was a local dentist in their small hometown and Dr. Pier had resisted the presumption that he’d follow in the family footsteps.
“I said ‘no way,’” he recalled. “I wanted to be a chemist.” And so, he graduated from Bates College with chemistry degree and landed a good job in his chosen field.
However, when Dr. Pier soon realized it wasn’t what he wanted as his career, he took another hard look at dad’s line of work. Upon testing well on the entrance exam, he decided to take dentistry seriously, embracing the three things he loved about the profession: serving people, being his own boss, and living where he wanted.
He graduated from Fairleigh Dickenson University School of Dentistry and completed a general practice residency in Morristown, New Jersey. Dr. Pier and his wife Karen then moved to Maine in 1984 where he joined Glen Cove Dental Associates. After 20 years, he parted amicably to open his own practice – Mount Pleasant Dental Care in Rockport.
Throughout his career, Dr. Pier learned the value of creating trust with his patients–especially those with extreme dental anxiety.
“Thirty-five percent of the population are so afraid they can’t even pick up the phone to call the dentist,” said Dr. Pier. “It’s extremely common so helping them through that fear makes such a difference.”
He learned much about building trust and patient relationships in Dental Boot Kamp, where he credits Dr. Michael Silverman with teaching him how to get to the root of the questions: Why are they afraid? What are their concerns?
Dr. Pier himself went on to teach for years around the country with Dental Boot Kamp, Sunrise Dental Solutions and DOCS Education, often partnering with Dr. Ted Morgan. He has developed and presented courses on topics related to restorative dentistry as well as interpersonal communication skills for dentists. Dr. Pier was an assistant professor at the University of New England College of Dental Medicine in Portland until 2019 and enjoys mentoring former students.
You Don’t Scare Me!
A large factor of building trust with the high fear patient has been adding sedation to his practice. Dr. Pier estimates that approximately one in ten of his patients seek him out specifically for sedation but many eventually don’t require it for treatment.
“It’s often more about embarrassment than fear,” he explained. “Sedation is partly medication and partly about the development of trust.”
One of Dr. Pier’s favorite experiences with building that trust was with a patient who started out fearfully sobbing in the waiting room. Thanks to sedation, she was able to get the work she needed done. When she required additional treatment a few years later, he approached her about her past fears and getting sedated for the upcoming work.
“She said, 'you don’t scare me!’ That’s the type of success I love,” said Dr. Pier.
The Maine Attraction
Dr. Pier’s original plan to open his second location in early 2020 ran headlong into the COVID-19 crisis. Although dental practices were effectively shut down last spring, Dr. Pier said they were in the office almost every day for emergencies. His second practice, North Pond Dental Care, eventually opened in Warren, Maine last summer. Both offices have been busy as they work to build the staff back up to pre-pandemic levels.
In addition to having two associates, Dr. Pier works with one of his sons who has followed him into the family business. Eventually he plans to reduce his days in the office so he can spend more time with his wife of more than 40 years, their three sons and their families, including three adored granddaughters.
The Pier home is located just minutes from the ocean and looks out on a pond and green rolling hills. In choosing Maine as the place to live and work, the family has found year-round enjoyment in hiking, skiing, and sailing.
Dr. Pier had a very clear vision for his practice–to be an example of what’s possible in dentistry. Their success is centered on the phrase, "We listen first."
“I wanted to see what I could do on my own and it grew beyond my dreams,” said Dr. Pier.
Nothing scary about that.
Author: Susan Richards is a staff writer at DOCS Education. With over 20 years of experience in local journalism and business marketing, Susan’s career includes award-winning feature writing, as well as creating content with context for a wide variety of industries.