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In Conversation with Dr. Nicolas Pröbstl
How to choose the right dental specialty?

Life in a family practice 

In Conversation with Dr. Nicolas Pröbstl

  • The dynamics of a family-run dental practice.

  • Making patients feel like they’re a part of the family.

  • Honest advice to new dentists.

          

Dr. Nicolas Pröbstl

Endodontist at Dres. Pröbstl, Munich-Neuhausen

  • Endodontist at Dres. Pröbstl, located at Frundsbergstraße 17, 80634 Munich-Neuhausen.

  • Completed a medical degree from the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich.

  • Currently pursuing his master’s degree in Krems.

  • Website: www.zahnaerzte-neuhausen.de

Dres. Pröbstl, in der Frundsbergstraße 17, 80634 München-Neuhausen

In Conversation with Dr. Nicolas Pröbstl

 
 

A lot of dental clinics are run by families that have specialized in dentistry for generations. One might say dentistry runs in the family’s DNA, and the dental clinic benefits from a firmly-rooted and established tradition, often tending to patients who have also relied on the clinic for generations. But what’s it like to merge your family, business, and profession? How do family-run dental clinics stay abreast of the latest changes in dentistry?

Dr. Nicolas Pröbstl recently received his doctorate and joined his family’s long-standing dental clinic — Dres. Pröbstl in Munich-Neuhausen. Our team at Zircon Medical recently hosted Dr. Pröbstl on our podcast series to discuss what it’s like to enter a family-run dental clinic.

Introducing Dr. Nicolas Pröbstl, the endodontist at Dres. Pröbstl in Munich-Neuhausen

Dr. Nicolas Pröbstl received his doctorate as dentist in Munich in 2018. He’s currently pursuing his master’s degree in Krems while working as an endodontist at Dres. Pröbstl, a family-run dental clinic at Frundsbergstraße 17, 80634 Munich-Neuhausen.

Dr. Pröbstl comes from a long line of dentists — his father, mother, and grandfather are dentists, as well. His mother was the first to join his grandfather's practice, which was opened at this location in 1972. . His father and mother took over the practice in 1998 when he was just 8 years old. As such, he says he’s been involved with the dental clinic to varying degrees his entire life. He recalls that he often spent his after-school hours in the dental clinic, talking to the dental assistants and watching his parents ply their trade.

Dr. Pröbstl says he always liked the family atmosphere and the idea of working at a family-run company. Due to his upbringing, he knew at a fairly early stage — from elementary school — that he wanted to pursue dentistry. He liked that dentistry allowed him to help people while doing crafty things with his hands, that it wasn’t a purely theoretical field. Although he studied economics in high school for a while and found it interesting, it was pretty clear that he wanted to be a dentist. 

The advantages of starting at a family-run dental practice

While studying at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Dr. Pröbstl played with the possibility of doing a residency elsewhere. However, he learned from colleagues that residencies and assistantships often dragged on with little scope of practical application and work. Dr. Pröbstl was done with theoretical knowledge, the kind he was subjected to in the university, and eager to learn something practical. And that’s why he joined his family practice right away — because he could get right into practical work with the active support and encouragement of his parents.

Dr. Nicolas Pröbstl found that working at the family practice helped him learn practical skills a lot faster than residencies. He was allowed to treat patients with complete independence from the very start. However, if he ever ran into a problem, he could simply call his parents, and they’d help him through the situation. At university, they had the chance to perform simple extractions occasionally, but they never did an eighth east. At most, they could watch other surgeons performing the procedure, but they couldn’t practice. However, at the family practice, he can actively perform complex procedures when a patient is called in.

From the very beginning, Dr. Pröbstl has had the liberty and confidence to see patients independently. If the case proved too complicated for him, he could call his parents, but there weren’t any limitations imposed on him. He could do large prosthetic-related work, take his time, and not worry about pressure from supervisors. Comparatively, some of his peers had to start with prophylaxis work, checks, and simple crowns. The larger prosthetic cases were largely out of reach for his peers — their boos would inevitably take over. Dr. Pröbstl counts himself lucky that it’s not the same case at his family practice.

The hurdles of working at a family-run dental practice

Dr. Pröbstl says the primary hurdle of entering his family’s dental practice was earning the patients’ trust. They’ve had patients who’ve been coming into the dental clinic for over 40 years — patients that were once treated by the grandfather and then by the father or mother. As such, those patients are initially skeptical when they’re met by a new young dentist, and Dr. Pröbstl had to work hard to earn their trust. According to him, it takes about a year and a half to get over those hurdles and hesitation from the patients. However, he believes you just have to be relaxed in those instances and realize that the patients’ reservations are perfectly natural.

The dynamics of a family-run dental practice

Dr. Pröbstl’s dental clinic provides a wide range of dental services from implantology to root canal treatments and beyond. His mother is currently focused on aesthetic dentistry, specializing in anterior enhancements, anterior abutments, and veneers. His father serves as the oral surgeon, with over 25 years of experience in implant placement. And Dr. Pröbstl is now specializing as an endodontist. Since everyone in the family is a dentist, Dr. Pröbstl says their communications during meals and other times often revolve around dentistry. They often discuss difficult cases during breakfast and brunch, and since Dr. Pröbstl recently finished his training, they also discuss the new innovations or trends in dentistry. He says his parents are incredibly open to new ideas.

One of the most noticeable areas where the intergenerational differences come to the fore is root canal treatment. Dr. Pröbstl says that root canal is one of the most common treatments at their dental clinic. In the past, when his grandfather was in practice, root canal treatments hadn’t developed sufficiently — they were performed using index cards instead of digital technologies. As such, the prognosis was far worse, with a high rate of failures wherein the tooth had to be removed. However, that’s no longer an issue — root canal treatments are now incredibly successful. Dr. Pröbstl is happy that his parents have supported him with complex root canals, which helped him learn greatly.

Although Dr. Pröbstl’s grandfather is now 91, he’s still keen on learning new techniques. While he was initially skeptical and continued to hold his opinions, he eventually came around to see that the new methods produced strong results. He often visits the dental clinic, sits behind, and observes as his grandson now performs root canals and other procedures. 

Making patients feel like they’re a part of the family

Dr. Pröbstl believes a big attraction of family-run dental practices is that the patients can truly feel at home and cared for. Dr. Pröbstl and his family embrace their dynastic value — they have family pictures, including pictures of their grandfather, hanging around the waiting room, as if the dental clinic is a natural extension of their living room. And, in many ways, their dental clinic truly is an extension of the family — how could it not be? And that familiarity breeds warmth and comfort. Dr. Pröbstl says their patients often feel like they’re not just a number, as they might feel in large practices. And that’s why they often get many new patients through referrals.

Joining a family-run dental practice as an outsider

While being a part of a family-run dental practice certainly has numerous advantages, Dr. Pröbstl admits that it might not be the best option for someone who’s not a part of the family. It’s difficult for outsiders to establish themselves in family practice because they have to deal with generations of traditions, systems, and practices. He also believes anyone joining a family practice must be a someone who’s open, friendly, laid back, and a “family person.” 

Honest advice to new dentists — focus on patient psychology and continue learning

When asked about what advice he’d give his younger self or someone just starting off as a dentist, Dr. Pröbstl had two clear suggestions — focus on patient psychology and continue learning new skills.

According to Dr. Pröbstl, every patient is unique. One might be scared, another might want everything explained in detail, and another might want you to do everything with the utmost efficiency. Other times, you might come across a patient without the financial means to afford the best care. Most dentists aren’t prepared to handle the complex psychology and needs of diverse patients. Preparing everything in the dental clinic and mastering different treatments are important, but they’re not enough — one must understand patients and perceive their unique needs.

Dr. Pröbstl pays equal emphasis to the importance of continuing one’s education, even if they’re not expensive courses. He recommends starting with dental depots that offer brilliant courses, even in things that aren’t directly related to dentistry, such as accounting, documentation, and communication training. Dr. Pröbstl found that a two-day course he took on communication training held great value in his interactions with patients. He believes it’s essential to constantly update one’s skills by attending different courses and training programs and to look at every possible area of dentistry.

You can find Dr. Pröbstl at his family-run dental practice, Dres. Pröbstl at Frundsbergstraße 17, 80634 Munich-Neuhausen, or you can go through their website www.zahnaerzte-neuhausen.de. You can also listen to him on our Zircon Medical podcast.

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