A look at the Buzbee family of dentists quickly illustrates their economic impact is best measured not only in dollars, but in lives touched. Beyond building one of Springfield’s oldest oral health practices, the three Buzbee men – patriarch Gary and sons Todd and Tyler – have a long and varied history of community service, both in and out of the dentists’ chairs.
Since opening Buzbee Dental Clinic PC in 1977 in a tiny building adjacent to was what then St. John’s Hospital, Gary has grown the practice from a single doctor and three staff to a busy company that employs a total of 24. In addition to a wide variety of imaging, cleaning, tooth repair and cosmetic services, the practice expanded its offerings in 2010 to include orthodontia.
Now, patients visiting Buzbee Dental’s 13,000-square-foot facility with 16 operating rooms and the latest digital imaging technology can receive nearly all necessary treatments without switching providers or locations.
The facilities and broad service offerings mean only 1 percent of all cases today are referred out of the clinic.
“For years I would send patients for consultations and I don’t know how many of them ever kept the appointments,” says Todd, who treats the majority of Buzbee’s orthodontia patients. “But the minute that we announced we’d be doing it, we were just bombarded with cases.”
As an increasing number of families struggle to meet health and dental costs without insurance, Buzbee Dental has stepped up. The practice has long accepted no-cost community referrals from a variety of sources, including homeless clients of The Kitchen Inc.’s dental clinic, Springfield Public Schools and most recently Care to Learn.
Additionally, in 2013, the practice launched the Buzbee Care Plan, which provides a basic preventative care regimen for a flat fee. The $245 to $295 basic package includes bi-annual exams, X-rays and cleanings at a discount of at least 38 percent, with an extended 20 percent discount on any other necessary services.
The elder Buzbee says even though so many local families have no access to dental insurance, those who do might be shocked to know the traditional benefit amount has remained unchanged – in some cases for decades.
“It certainly hasn’t kept pace with increases in medical coverage,” he says. “The insurance purpose is to save money, which ultimately in the long run can end up costing the patient more.”
Beyond the dental outreach associated with their practice, the Buzbee dentists have a long history of supporting local nonprofit organizations. From leadership positions in the Springfield Dental Society and the Missouri Dental Association, to support of agencies working in the areas of arts, education, youth development, sports, health and fitness, community involvement is a cornerstone of both the business and familial philosophies of the Buzbee clan.
“Doing something good one day a year doesn’t make you a saint,” says Tyler, referring to the regular mix of Medicaid, charity and school referral cases the dentists see in their office. “That’s why we don’t participate in other organized community outreach.”
“Some dentists set aside one day a year to see charity cases,” adds Gary. “We give kids smiles every day.”