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Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Business of Dentistry

Business vs. Charity

I started my career in the dental field working for a friends dad who is a dentist. He trained me how to assist. His assisting needs were very simple- basically hold the suction and clean the room and instruments.
From there I started a new assisting job for an upscale cosmetic office where the assistant did everything.
My original office worked with insurance and recommended treatment one minute before the tooth was lost to decay. Patients often wouldn't pay for dental work that they had done and he was perfectly content to read his paper if a patient no- showed. The second office focused on more proactive and elective treatment and tried to avoid letting insurance companies dictate treatment. Patients paid for treatment prior to receiving it and the main focus was on keeping the schedule full and productive.

 It was a difficult change in almost every aspect for me to make.

Every dentist, hygienist, patient... has an idea of what they think is ethical and good treatment. I can't think of another field where the opinions are so varied. My advice is to work for someone who's ideals align with yours.

After many offices and experiences I have come to the conclusion that there is a niche for every kind of practice. People on medicaid need dental treatment and so does Bill Gates. One does not make the other wrong. Some people choose to stay at the Motel 6 while others prefer The Ritz.

I have since wrapped my head around the idea that the office that I choose to work for must turn a profit in order to keep the doors open so that we can provide treatment to our patients. They must also bring in revenue to write my paycheck since this is the reason that I show up every day,the reason that I went to school and the way that I provide for my family.

A lot of hygienists have big hearts and want, as my husband puts it "save the world" not "sell" dentistry.
When we went to school they didn't teach us how to "plant the seed" or increase case acceptance- they taught us how to wash our hands for 3 minutes without touching the sink.

We get out of school start our first job and realize that washing you hands for that length of time may not be practical before, during and after each patient. We also realize that maybe we should have had a class or two on business- at least I did.

I hope that my following posts will help you feel more comfortable if you are struggling with the same dilemma I had when I first came to this realization. If you never had this problem then I hope my upcoming ideas will inspire you!

One last thought:
 A thriving dental practice can afford to reach into the community and help individuals who are less fortunate

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Always Evolving Dental World

I am a dental hygienist in Michigan. We are going through a really difficult time economically, it has greatly effected the dental field in numerous ways:
  • There are very few dental jobs available
  • Offices are struggling to keep patients, get new patients and fill schedules
  • Revenue for employees and employers has been on a down hill slide
  • Insurance companies are reducing coverage
I am fortunate to work in a great dental practice that has managed to thrive in these difficult times. We have implemented some great systems that have allowed us to practice dentistry in a way that we feel is best for our patients and ourselves.

I started in the dental field 12 years ago as a dental assistant, I have been a practicing RDH for 6 years now. I have worked in a lot of different dental settings and feel that I have a good understanding of the field and it possibilities.

Recently I have been talking to a lot of fellow hygienists, assistants, dentists and students and I have seen a great need for ideas- and it just so happens that I have a lot!

I will be posting different ideas on many different dental related topics:
  • how to make your resume stand out
  • how to make yourself more marketable
  • marketing ideas for your practice
  • how to better your recall system
  • and many more
If you have any suggestions, questions or ideas I would love to hear them

If you subscribe to this blog at the top of the screen new post will be sent directly to your email

My hope is that this assists in making your dental career more fulfilling, enjoyable and profitable!


"Good morning Sue this is Katie from Dr. ______ office- it looks like your last cleaning was in May of 2010, I was calling to schedule an appointment for you."

Whats not to love about making these calls... right?

Weather you play with the rhetoric- "schedule your preventative maintenance appointment, or Dr._______ asked me to call and schedule an appointment for you because he noticed he hadn't seen you in awhile"
for most of us this is a little out of our comfort zone.

This is a service that we are providing for our patients, it isn't your fault that the patient hasn't scheduled an appointment! We all know that prevention is the easiest and cheapest way to maintain health, it also requires the least amount of appointments and time- what other excuse can there be?

Obviously in an ideal world all patients would schedule their next recare appointment and keep it- wouldn't life be great. Unfortunately for us this will NEVER happen which gives way to that ever growing list of delinquent patients AKA : A GOLD MINE

I have worked the gamete on recall, from the card file (similar to the dewey decimal system) to the computer generated system. From front desk handling recall duties to the sole responsibility being on the hygiene department.

Who ever is handling this in your office, make sure someone is on top of it- It is a gold mine for you and the practice. If your schedule is open it effects the business as a whole and if not immediately it can trickle down to your paycheck.

I like to have multiple lists being worked at all times:
  • Due in 2 months- postcards are sent
  • Due next month- calls are made
  • Recently overdue- calls are made
  • 3 months overdue- email sent- we use Televox but there are a lot of different options- dental senders is free
  • Long overdue- emails are sent, calls are made and finally a letter stating "we haven't seen you in a while we miss you and are concerned about your dental health. Call to schedule an appointment or if you are being seen elsewhere let us know so we can update our records. If we don't hear from you within 90 days we will inactivate your account"
Utilizing all of these patient pools allows you to minimize open hygiene time, it also keeps  patients healthier which in turn makes their appointments more enjoyable.
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