Why Patients Come From So Far Away
Many patients travel a great distance to see me and we get phone calls from prospective new patients from all over the country. My practice is located in a rural area of northwest New Jersey, about one hour and fifteen minutes from the George Washington Bridge. Although there are nice restaurants up here, it is not a big shopping area and there are not many businesses that attract out-of-county commuters. So when patients make the trip it is not typically tied to me being close to their work or close to their shopping.
In 2014 I sent a survey out to my patients who travel a minimum of one hour each way to see me (a two hour round trip commute) and who have been coming to me regularly for a number of years. The purpose was to make plain the reason(s) these individuals make the trip with the hope of finding enough statistical evidence that my opinion might carry some weight in the dental academic world, with an eye on persuading one or more dental schools to make some changes in their curricula. The fact that people come from so far away implies that dentists who are closer lack one or more skills or traits that would attract them. I submitted this data for publication to the Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA), and they published it in their March 2015 edition: PIIS0002817715002159.pdf. Since publication I have corresponded with two dental schools, one in the US, one in Canada, that have expressed interest in some of the starting points that I have suggested. Because JADA is widely read, other institutions will learn of my suggestions. Only time will tell if changes will be made.
Click the Thumbnail below to read the full article:
Below, I have reproduced a selection of the responses to this survey, showing where the person lives, how many miles away they are and how many years they have been a patient here. The words printed in italics are unedited except where small grammatical changes were needed to make the meaning clear. In a few cases I have added a parenthetic comment [in brackets, without italics] to clarify meaning. As I have learned there are many different reasons that people make the trip to see me.
“Dr Shuch is the only dentist I know or have been able to find that combines bite [correction treatment] and holistic dentistry knowledge in his practice. He is personable, kind, intellectually curious and committed to his work, and visits to his office are pleasant and peaceful. He is a rare combination of specialty expertise, knowledge, and skills that make the trip worthwhile for his unique services”.
-T.I., Berlin, Germany (4014 miles, 7 years)
“One does not ordinarily fly from the West Coast to the East Coast to get dental work done, but that is exactly what I have done. When a recently replaced crown [placed by a dentist in California], was causing pain and discomfort, I turned to Dr Shuch for his expertise in tooth mechanics and crown work. I have found the quality of his work unmatched so turning to him to resolve my problem was a natural. Dr Shuch quickly diagnosed the source of my problems and placed new restorations in my mouth. I experienced the wonderful feeling of a solid bite. I am totally thrilled with my new caps, and the way they are working in harmony with my other teeth. I am deeply grateful to Dr Shuch for his expertise and high quality work. I have the highest regard for his specialized skills, holistic techniques, and devotion to doing things right the first time around”.
-N.M. Saratoga, California (2904 miles, 15 years)
“His passion for excellence.
- His attention to detail and precision in execution.
- His compassion and genuine interest in me as a person.
- The consciousness he brings to all aspects of his business. Examples: poster on ceiling [a Tibetan mandala positioned directly above the dental chair so that there is something compelling to focus on while having dental treatment], office decoration, books [to browse, read, and borrow in the reception room] in his office.
- His office feels calm and peaceful.
- He’s fully present with whomever he is with.
- Good listener.
- Sense of humor!”
-A.M. San Rafael, California (2861 miles, 20 years)
“Because I have such faith in him! He explains what he is doing—and it works! I always thought I had a good dentist, but I always had new cavities! Since I have been with Dr Shuch I have had many fewer problems with my teeth. He also listens when I say I cannot, at this point, spend vast amounts on my teeth”!
-J.R. Newport Beach, California (2755 miles, 9 years)
- “Holistic expertise, rare in the field.
- Personal connection: Treated as an individual, not as in a corporate practice in which you’re moved through the system quickly: Boutique medicine.
- Admiration for the doctor’s dedication to his field: inventor, author, etc; love for his craft, post-graduate education.
- Caring personality.
- Loyalty for correcting intractable dental issues years ago that no one else could mediate”.
-G.C. Braselton, Georgia (812 miles, 16 years)
“I was seeking safer, more natural treatment when I began seeing Dr Shuch. I continue due to his continued study and perfection of his skills and treatments. I trust him to use the safest (more natural) and best techniques for the most long lasting repairs with the least destruction of natural teeth. He shares my strong belief in prevention of further medical and dental problems and shares that knowledge”.
-J.G. Johnson City, Tennessee (580 miles, 17 years)
“I travel so far to see Dr Shuch for multiple reasons. When I was younger I had a very bad dentist that after I had a tooth drilled it would hurt for months and later on I found out that most of my teeth had cavities under the filling. I know that that is possible with any procedure, but for almost every filling it seems to be a problem with the dentist. I like that Dr Shuch has a scientific mind. He is very up to date on techniques and doesn’t have a problem saying if they are really useful or something similar to ‘snake oil’. I trust that when I go to him I won’t have to worry about getting an unnecessary procedure done just to get more money out of me. If he says I need a procedure I am absolutely assured that I need it. I also appreciate that he takes such good notes. At one point I told him I have sensitive gums. Since then I do not have to be concerned about my teeth cleaning anymore. Other doctors would need to be reminded after I have been inflicted some pain. Main point…Dr Shuch is very mindful of his patients. Lastly I appreciate that he takes such a holistic approach to dentistry. He makes sure that not just your teeth are in good order. If your bite pattern is not proper he will help out. He has asked routinely about my overall health. I really feel that he cares about his patients and makes sure that they are overall happy with his work and their health in general. So in summary I travel so far because I know what I am getting. I am getting a job well done and a procedure that was absolutely necessary. I also get options which are wonderful. Sometimes I don’t have the money for the ‘Cadillac’ procedure, but am given the option of taking a procedure that will get me 5-10 years down the road instead of 15-20. It’s really nice to have that option”.
-S.M. Atlanta, Georgia (856 miles, 10 years)
- “Because he treats the ‘whole person’.
- He explained everything to me and gave me ‘options’ to choose from to fix my problems with my mouth.
- Mainly—I TRUST HIM.
- He is honest with his patients, he listens to them, and he treats them with respect.
- He cares about people”.
M.H. Louisville, Kentucky (725 miles, 10 years)
- “He is skilled in alternative and homeopathic treatments for pain.
- He is cautious and respectful when removing mercury fillings to be sure the patient is not damaged in the process. (My former dentist denied that mercury poisoning was my problem. My alternative chiropractor diagnosed that I had mercury in my body when I was on the verge of a severe nervous and mental breakdown and saved my life.)
- On my first visit, before I even met him, I was aware that he was using Zen energy to help me relax and I knew he was a special doctor, one who really wants to help his patients.
- He gives each patient his full attention on each visit. He does the work himself and does not turn you over to a dental assistant.
- He respects my desire to not experience over exposure to x ray radiation, so I don’t have x rays on every visit [note: rarely does a patient need x rays on every visit!].
- He is not just my dentist, he is my friend”!
-M.M. Troutman, North Carolina (586 miles, 12 years)
- “I could not find another dentist [closer] that has the same skill, knowledge, or personality.
- I appreciate that he explains procedures beforehand and says what he is doing as he is doing it.
- He explains options and gives the pros and cons of each.
- He uses the least toxic materials available for the job.
- He stays informed of the latest technology, materials, and procedures.
- I appreciate not being herded through assembly line and you are not jumping from one room to another. He stays with one patient, start to finish—more focus.
- He is gentle, patient and a perfectionist.
- He uses the minimal amount of anesthesia and administers it in the right location so less can be used. With previous dentists I would be numb for many hours—now—less than one hour.
- He uses homeopathy
- I like that he is the one who cleans my teeth, not a hygienist—I feel he gets to know my teeth and gums better.
- I never have to wait long in the waiting room or in the chair.
- I’m glad to find a dentist who knows as much about fluoride and mercury fillings as I do. I was tired of arguing with a previous dentist about materials and procedures.
- He uses environmentally sound procedures of removal of amalgam fillings—protecting patients from unnecessary exposure.
- He doesn’t take x-rays excessively—one dentist I had gone to wanted to do a full set of x-rays every year and wouldn’t even clean my teeth without them (I walked out of his office).
- I like the music and the Buddhist mandala sand painting on the ceiling.
- I like that he takes whatever time is needed—not rushed”.
-A.P. Berkeley Springs, West Virginia (248 miles, 20 years)
- “He sees one patient at a time, taking care of all aspects of the session himself, giving careful and individualized attention.
- Judicious use of x rays.
- He has an understanding of the structure and engineering of one’s bite and alignment of teeth.
- He uses homeopathy and muscle testing to support decisions for individual needs.
- I trust Dr Shuch completely to recommend the best and most appropriate care; I will loyally and willingly travel any distance, with appreciation and gratitude for his work”.
-K.D. Brattleboro, Vermont (238 miles, 19 years)
“There is a long list of criteria why I travel to see Dr Shuch. Top of the list would be quality, wholistic approach, trustworthiness and really caring. Dr Shuch looks for the underlying causes of problems so as to prevent problems in the future. He explains things so that I can be more active in my healthcare. He sees me as a whole person and understands that dental problems can affect other areas of health, such as cardiovascular disease and how other aspects of health such as stress and poor diet can affect dental health. Dr Shuch is ethical; I trust that his primary concern is my well being and that he will not tell you to have dental work that you don’t need. He provides various options. You can just rest in the dental chair, knowing you are in good hands. Dr Shuch always starts his visit with inquiring how I am doing, again looking at the whole person. He spends time explaining progress or what needs to be addressed. I came to Dr Shuch after having a ‘failed’ crown done elsewhere, with unsuccessful attempts to correct it. Dr Shuch explained that the bite was out of alignment and this also contributed to my gum disease. Dr Shuch corrected my bite, before that, my front teeth had never aligned. The new crown he made for me felt perfect and my gums improved. The porcelain inlays were done to perfection. In addition to quality I feel Dr Shuch really cares about his patients, this is genuine. He utilizes his knowledge, experience, and creativity as shown in his “Strange, Rare, and Peculiar” newsletter series. If there is any possibility of something being done, there is a good chance Dr Shuch will have an idea that works. Many practitioners don’t think beyond protocols they learned or that are conventionally accepted in their profession. His passion for expanding his knowledge and wanting the best for his patients is clearly a driving force in his successful outcomes. Also, the office has a sense of calm; the waiting area is relaxing. He has great books in his waiting room. The staff is caring, warm and professional. I always feel I am getting the best care possible with Dr Shuch and I feel confident when making a referral. I can assure those who I send to him that not only will they get expertise, quality, and wholistic care, but they will be seeing someone they can trust. If more people knew what kind of dental care they could receive, instead of what they are getting, I’m sure they would travel too”.
-I.C. Hyattsville, Maryland (250 miles, 15 years)
“I trust Dr Shuch with procedures that others won’t do as well. I value his craft and his expertise”!
-S.D. Milton, Delaware (222 miles, 11 years)
- “I am confident in Dr Shuch’s knowledge and skill in the field of dentistry.
- I feel that he is a caring person, and will do his best to cause no harm and as little pain as possible.
- Dr Shuch will not use mercury or other toxic substances in fillings.
- Dr Shuch uses holistic practices such as homeopathy.
- Dr Shuch is skilled in removing mercury fillings.
- The environment in the office is pleasing and is conducive to a feeling of relaxation and safety. His staff is caring and helpful.
- Dr Shuch does cleaning of teeth himself, rather than using a hygienist.
- X rays are only taken when needed and for a specific reason.
- There is rarely, if ever, a wait as ample time is set aside for each patient.
- Dr Shuch’s calm and confident attitude takes away some of the fear of going to a dentist.
- Dr Shuch shows interest in the whole person, not just your mouth”!
-P.P. Lancaster, Pennsylvania (133 miles, 14 years)
- “Dr Shuch is not in a hurry. His practice is not driven by how many patients he can see in a day. He schedules enough time to allow for the unforeseen, to allow for the space between.
- He has integrated classical homeopathic practices into his practice.
- He genuinely enjoys his work.
- His practice takes all of me into account. He sees and honors the interconnectedness of the entire body, mind, and spirit”.
-P.R. Fairfield, Connecticut (106 miles, 15 years)
- “He gives me his undivided attention; personalized attention.
- I never feel rushed; it doesn’t feel like an assembly line.
- There is no wait time; appointments are not double-scheduled.
- *High quality of care.
- The office atmosphere is soothing and calming.
- He offers options for alternative treatments and innovative treatments.
- He constantly seeks new ways to improve the art of dentistry. He will try a different method to save a tooth vs. and extraction.
- He is kind and compassionate.
- He has a friendly chairside manner.
- I have a high level of confidence in Dr Shuch that I am getting the best dental care available”.
-V.L. Little Egg Harbor, New Jersey (134 miles, 11 years)
“Mindfulness-from the second the door to the office is opened-a soft bell announces my entrance, the sound of a quiet water fall and sight of water cascading over a small water ornament—every place I look—my eyes fall on consciousness—nothing ‘just happens to be there’—whether it be a book, a piece of art, the lighting, the furniture—all of it feels like it is there to enrich my life on a soul level. There is only the sound of soft music, the waterfall, and a chime. There are no loud ringing phones or voices or microphones or slamming doors or TV or videogames. Dr Shuch enters calmly, quietly, with a smile and I feel I am cared for and in good hands. Dr Shuch is grounded, kind, with an easy-going manner. There is a strong sense of him loving his work and being at peace with himself and his work. He has a sense of dignity about himself and respect for me; a sense of appreciation that I came to see him. There is no nurse, dental assistant—he does it all—spends time with me, talks with me about whatever topic comes up until finally I mention my teeth and why I am there. I always feel appreciated by him and hope to let him know I appreciate him and the care he takes to be thorough, gentle and calm when he works in my mouth. There is no pretense or façade. The chair is placed with a view of the rolling hills and when it goes back there is a mandala on the ceiling that I get lost in as he works in my mouth. There is a heavy blanket I can keep on top of me (after x rays) which brings me a sense of calm and security. The chair has a massage button so I am relaxing while work is done in my mouth. Dr Shuch is very exact and works with precision and calmness and care. The combination of naturopathic and holistic herbs and tinctures adds to the sense of healing and wellness. I have had the metal removed from my teeth and replaced with something healthier, my teeth cleaned and a bridge put in (which looks like a piece of art; it is so exquisitely done!) He is an artist—his work is an expression of his talent, along with his drawings, stories and writing. When there is pain involved, he has a sense of empathy for me and does everything he can to support the easing of the pain. He has a plant hanging over his small sink that is very old. He ducks his head, so not to hurt the plant (can this be taught in dental school?) There is interesting art in different forms for my eyes to study and appreciate as I pay my bill and am thanked for coming. A bell chimes as I open the door to leave and a big part of me hates to go! I am at peace in his space. I feel it is all there-the beautiful comfy chairs and couch with furniture and beautiful old books for my exploration and I appreciate that”.
-N.F. Bridgeport, Connecticut (109 miles, 13 years)
- “Initially I came on the extremely enthusiastic recommendation of my primary care doctor after Dr Shuch’s treatment of his severe and long-standing dental issues. The main hope was that removal of my mercury fillings would help alleviate my chronic fatigue.
- I continue to come because of Dr Shuch’s integrative approach. The thoughtful and careful consideration of what works most effectively and is in the best interest of the patient’s oral and general health.
- One of the treatments I have received from Dr Shuch is bite balancing. My understanding is that this treatment is rarely provided by dentists in general and is important for good dental as well as general health.
- Dr Shuch’s co-development of the oral health care product Revitin is another example of his commitment to improved dental care.
- I always look forward to discussions with Dr Shuch during my visits because of his insight and perspective in helping me make healthier choices in my life.
-S.P. Jamaica (Queens), NY (74 miles, 6 years)
We travel three hours round trip to have Dr Shuch be our dentist because:
1. He is a great dentist. He offers a type of dentistry we cannot find nearby—a natural, holistic approach which we know will keep our teeth/mouth as safe as they can be.
2. He is a person of integrity whom we can trust both with our teeth and with other issues, (such as billing as we have sadly discovered is not the case with everyone!)
3. We appreciate Dr Shuch’s professional and personal ethics and the clearly evident passion he has for his trade; thoughtfulness is apparent throughout the patient experience. Two examples: we like the fact that we are not asked about our preferences for local anesthetics at a time when the mouth is filled with implements (a spot one of us (D.S.) was previously placed in by other practitioners. Second, only after asking about it did I learn that Dr Shuch takes care to dispose of the mercury amalgam filling waste in an environmentally safe manner [and was doing so a decade before there was any regulatory law in place to do so] without regard for the cost or inconvenience.
4. During subsequent visits and through Dr Shuch’s occasional and artful written correspondence we have discovered more about his enthusiasm for dentistry and about his respect for the interrelationships of the oral and oval human health”.
-V.D. & D.S. Manhattan, NY (65 miles, 9 years)
“I am happy to devote an entire day to visit Dr Shuch for the following reasons. I have found a few of these qualities in the doctors I have encountered in my lifetime, but none, other than Dr Shuch, who have ALL of the traits listed below, ALL of which are paramount to my personal healing experience.
1. I inherently trust Dr Shuch
2. I like him. He emanates a calming energy.
3. He is spiritually conscience.’
4. He is extremely intelligent and well educated.
5. I feel he truly listens to me.
6. He is honest and sincere.
7. I always feel he is treating my whole being, not just dental issues.
8. He integrates healing techniques from ‘mainstream’ as well as ‘alternative’ medicine.
9. His staff also exudes a very calming and personable energy, a reflection of himself.
10. He has created a very peaceful office environment that is surrounded by nature.
11. He always discusses/explains with me my medical issues and WE choose the least invasive procedure”.
-L.L. Manhattan, NY (63 miles, 14 years)
“Why do I travel so far to see Dr Shuch? I never thought I would ever do such a thing, but when one is at the end of the rope, not getting answers, but knowing full well something is very wrong, you go where you find the answers. Dr Shuch answered every question with confidence and brilliance and did so in such a way that it all made sense. Finally someone understood AND had the answers! It was at the first consultation that I realized how inept and in denial other dentists that I had been to, are. I did a lot of research on root canals (of which I had 17) and was horrified at the statistics. Whenever I mentioned it to other dentists it was as if they had no clue and I was the crazy one! I just said enough now! I was referred to Dr Shuch by someone who knew I was in trouble and had issues for over 10 years—bacteria leeching into my body from dental work that had gone bad or bad from the start. Dr Shuch saved me, of that I am very sure. He is brilliant beyond words, has deep compassion, patience, confidence and is a perfectionist in his work. I bless him every day”!
F.M. Staten Island, NY (63 miles, 2 years)
“From the moment we walk into Dr Shuch’s office we feel blessed. Everything about the experience is supportive and healing. The waiting room vibrates with soothing colors and sounds. It is a comforting sanctuary filled with the sort of books that make you wish you could just stay and read for the rest of your life. If you were worried about your teeth, you’ve forgotten all about it. Pam and Pat are wonderful, both very special people who we always look forward to seeing. And when Dr Shuch walks into the room, you know that you are safe and in the presence of a powerful healer. He exudes kindness and acceptance. When he works you can feel the healing light and energy as they flow through his hands. After being seen by Dr Shuch we always leave with an overwhelming feeling of peace and well being. Our time with Dr Shuch is as much a spiritual experience as a dental experience. Dr Shuch heals on all levels. Dr Shuch is masterful in dentistry far above and beyond other dentists we have seen. His skill in combination with his excellence as an artist results in truly extraordinary work. Many of the reasons why we would travel any distance to see Dr Shuch are unique to him as a person. The aspects of our experience with him that could be communicated to future dentists might be:
- Seeing only one patient at a time—this makes us feel safe and respected knowing that Dr Shuch is totally focused and completely connected and present. (we have had dental experiences where serious mistakes have been made on our teeth as a dentist was running to three or four patients at a time—I don’t think a heart transplant surgeon would do this but I do think our teeth are just as important). Also it is much more relaxing to have Dr Shuch’s energy consistently rather than having the dentist and technicians running in and out.
- The beautiful environment, colors, music, (no fluorescent lighting), these are powerful healing tools.
- A willingness to think out of the box.
- To study art to enhance sense of aesthetics along with dental training.
- To be sure that they truly love dentistry because I think that when you love whatever it is that you do, the work is infused with that love and that makes all things good”.
D.F. & B.G Nyack, NY (60 miles, 8 years)
“Dr Shuch feels keenly responsible for the long term health of my teeth and gums. He seeks the best science and health knowledge and procedures to protect and preserve my teeth and gums. He skillfully blends what is good in conventional dentistry with holistic, alternative medical wisdom. Even his toothpaste improves the health of the teeth and gums. He is meticulous, precise, careful, and calm. He projects a quiet chairside charm. He explains well and answers questions clearly. Of the 8-10 other dentists I have had in my 77 years, no one comes close to the outstanding quality of Dr Shuch’s care. Our daughter, who lives in California, tries to use him when she visits the East Coast”.
G.S. Princeton, NJ (59 miles, 16 years)
“I willingly travel to see my dentist Dr Shuch because he is an outstanding dentist. He is kind, generous, funny and above all human. Dr Shuch is such a rare find, atypical of the usual dentist, due to his knowledge, expertise and his focus on the true health of my teeth, mouth and in turn overall bodily health. I trust Dr Shuch implicitly and my teeth and health have only benefitted from his guidance and treatment. And last but not least—there is never any pain with Dr Shuch, for which I am so very grateful”!
-A.R. Manhattan, NY (57 miles, 6 years)
“Dr Shuch is able to diagnose with great skill and accuracy and treat with safe and evidence based science. His holistic approach is very pure, based on proven biochemistry. Additionally, he listens with a compassionate heart and is always attentive”.
-R.K. Ridgefield Park, NJ (52 miles, 3 years)
“I travel an hour and a half [each way] for Dr Shuch’s dental care because:
1. He has a natural approach.
2. His open manner—he explains what’s going on; he questions and he listens.
3 I trust him”.
-P.M. Honesdale, Pennsylvania (52 miles, 16 years)