When you hear the phrase “less is more,” it’s only fair to assume the only people who’d say such a thing weren’t looking at their bank accounts.
Still, there’s merit to the notion of less being more.
Sometimes, when we try to take on too much in our lives, it leads to diminishing returns. We stretch ourselves too thin and end up worse off than if we stuck with keeping things a bit smaller.
It’s not a universal rule, of course. Sometimes more is more (e.g. money). But less is often more, and that notion is most reflected in the dental industry.
Specifically, we’ve noticed many pitfalls to practice-owners expanding beyond their one humble practice. In many cases, it causes business-related headaches, negatively impacts your first practice, and hinders one’s quality of life.
Let’s further explore why dental practice owners are often better off sticking with their one practice instead of trying to expand.
Delving Into The Issues
There are significant roadblocks standing in front of single-practice owners who want to expand, and it would be wise to mull them over in great detail. We’re highlighting these obstacles below:
1. Financial Factors
You’ll likely need to borrow money from the bank to buy a second practice, adding to your debt obligations.
The pitfalls here are clear – you’re making yourself vulnerable to cash flow problems provided you have an off-month. As you’re just opening a practice, like most new business owners, you can’t guarantee a great first few months. This increases your chances of cash-related struggles.
On top of that, lenders tighten up their financing requirements for second practices.
So, these lenders don’t just need an airtight business plan. They’ll also want a substantial savings cushion of about $100,000. Maybe more.
2. Insurance Credentialing Nightmares
There are enough credentialing problems involved with running a single dental practice. You can multiply those nightmares by two when you own two practices.
Specifically, a problem you run into owning one practice is applying to too many carriers at once. This snafu often leads to accepting a lower fee schedule, getting too much business for the limits of your billing process, and more.
By branching out and owning two practices, you’re doubling the chances for those headaches.
3. Negative Impact On Your Primary Practice
Buying a secondary practice means it won’t necessarily receive all your attention.
Still, second practices aren’t passive investments. They require their owner’s attention to turn a profit.
You must create systems and perform various management tasks to ensure things run smoothly. Even if you aren’t hands-on at your second practice, you’re putting time and effort into it. You’ll need to, at a minimum, invest five extra hours per week into your new business.
That doesn’t seem like a massive commitment at first. But consider how much time you already put into your initial practice. That extra five hours will rob you of your energy, cutting into the attention you pay to your primary dental practice.
4. Risk Versus Rewards Of Owning A Second Dental Practice
When weighing the risks versus rewards of owning a second dental practice, you first must grasp it’s not a license to print money. It’s a strategic endeavour that necessitates careful planning and immense business savvy.
Of course, for many dentists, owning a second practice has indeed paid off. Yet, these are unique individuals. They don’t mind the extra work and thrive off conquering the challenges of such a venture.
On the other end of the spectrum are dentists who regret their decision to take this leap. They end up overextended, understaffed, and scraping every corner to make loan payments.
You must examine your needs and desires before opening a second practice.
The decision to branch out should depend on if the potential for added wealth is worth the risk and added work that goes into it. Additionally, you should only buy a secondary practice if you’re 100% equipped to overcome the challenges guaranteed to come your way. And it shouldn’t hinder your quality of life.
So, Should You Purchase A Second Dental Practice?
While the title of this article is cautionary, if your heart is set on buying another dental practice, we’re not here to stop you. We assume you’ve done your due diligence and formulated the appropriate business plan to ensure success.
Perhaps, our main point was that opening a new dental practice shouldn’t come at the cost of your well-being (physical, emotional, and financial). Nor should your new business venture negatively impact your first dental practice. After all, your patients and staff still need you to lead the way and be the shining example of optimal oral health they’ve come to trust.
Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, Nikola Tesla, and…you.
What do all these people have in common? They’re all inventors. The only difference is that you haven’t fully developed your invention yet.
Don’t worry, though. We’re here to rectify that situation.
After all, being a dental hygienist requires the creativity associated with inventiveness. You’re constantly finding ways to perform your duties better.
Don’t believe us? Let’s allow history to speak for itself–there are a plethora of inventive dental hygienists out there who’ve changed the industry with their innovations.
For instance, there’s Becky Logue, who invented the Dental RAT, a foot-operated computer mouse.
Then, who can forget Patricia Blundon? She designed the Clip Mirror, a handy invention that attaches to your saliva ejector, making it easier to see while applying maxillary arch sealants.
And there’s Mark Frias, the hygienist who invented the Kona Adaptor, which attaches the autoclavable mouthpieces to HVE valves.
These dental hygienist inventors we’ve listed are only scratching the surface of professionals in your space who’ve created game-changing devices.
Below, we’ll discuss how you can follow in their footsteps!
1. Patent Your Idea as a Dental Hygienist
There’s a caveat with great ideas – other industrious, inventive thinkers like you may have already thought of them.
You don’t want to spend weeks or months dreaming up a big idea and putting in the research only to find out someone has already filed a patent for it. So, after your first seemingly successful brainstorming session, visit Google Patents to see if your idea already exists.
Be mindful that the existing patent might not be a replica of your potential invention, but it could be similar enough to cause problems.
Still, even if you realize your idea is patented, it’s not the end of the world. There’s a chance that the patent expired, or you could obtain rights to it through purchasing.
The ideal scenario, though, is that you find nothing.
In which case, there aren’t any obstacles in your way of patenting your idea to protect it. You can spend money on a patenting attorney. However, the more affordable choice is to acquire a provisional patent over LegalZoom.
2. Illustrate Your Model Or Idea
Inventions don’t come to life out of thin air–not even prototypes. You must have it on paper (or on a screen) first. Then, you can bring it into existence.
A 3D CAD (computer-aided design) drawing is the best method for drawing your innovation. In a perfect world, you’ll have CAD skills you can use, but we won’t make any assumptions. Provided you’re not familiar with computer-aided design, hire someone to do it.
How can you find this 3D CAD artist? Like you do everything these days, by going to the old Google machine. Type “CAD services” into the search field, and the results will be plentiful.
It is possible to keep things simpler and sketch a 2D drawing on graph paper. Note that you’re limiting yourself with this approach, although you can get away with it.
3. Prototype Your Innovation
Your next step is producing a prototype. Don’t panic at this idea, because your invention doesn’t need to be functional or operational in its prototypical form. A crude iteration of your final product will suffice.
More important than the prototype’s functionality is its insights into any dimensional issues.
Similar to your 3D CAD drawings, you can easily find a company to make your prototype on Google if you can’t do it yourself.
A simple search query for “rapid prototyping” will generate tons of results for companies that prototype (and they’ll probably offer CAD drawings, too).
4. Discuss Your Idea With Other Hygienists And Get Feedback
There are many hygienists out there who’ve been through this invention process from top to bottom. If you have an exciting idea to improve a dental hygienist’s efficiency and bolster patient care, reach out to these inventors.
Your colleagues can also offer some insights. Ask them if your idea sounds like it’d help them perform their work better and see if they can provide some notes.
A fresh perspective will shed light on any blind spots and help you shore up potential weaknesses.
Reach For The Stars And Make Your Big Idea Come To Life!
It might seem like you need a whacky haircut and a twirly, thick mustache to be an inventor, but that’s plainly not the case.
The fact is, you have the tools to become an inventor in the dental hygienist space. These traits include a vast knowledge base, creativity, industry experience, and an analytical mind.
All you need is an idea that helps you do your job better. From there, follow the steps we’ve provided in this article, and you’ll be well on your way to etching your name in the dental hygienist history books!
Airway disruption can be a serious problem for people who have trouble breathing, but it's something that dentists can help address.
Dentists are uniquely qualified to help with airway disruption because they have specialized training in facial anatomy and oral health issues. In this article, we will review how you can spot signs of airway disruption before they become serious problems and take steps to treat them early on, so they don't get worse over time!
What Do We Mean When We Talk About Airway Disruption?
Airway disruption is not a well-defined term, but it is most commonly associated with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Whereas snoring only occurs during sleep and stops when you breathe normally, OSA occurs when your airway collapses at night and causes an obstruction that is severe enough to stop breathing.
When breathing stops, the body sends signals to trigger arousal so that breathing can resume. The arousal can be so brief that you do not remember waking up, or it can be long enough for you to wake completely.
There are many possible factors that will put a person at risk for OSA, including obesity, a narrow airway or enlarged tonsils or tongue, alcohol use before bedtime, and taking sedative medications before bedtime.
Oral Indicators of Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms can be subtle and easy to miss.
But there are oral indicators of sleep apnea that can help you detect and treat obstructive sleep apnea before it becomes life-threatening.
One of the most common oral indicators of obstructive sleep apnea is a dry mouth in the morning. If you wake up with a dry mouth, it's possible that your airway was blocked at some point during the night. This is especially true if you felt like you were choking or having trouble breathing when you woke up in the middle of the night.
Other common oral indicators include teeth grinding, tooth sensitivity, difficulty swallowing and/or feeling like there's something stuck in your throat, sore or swollen gums, jaw pain or stiffness, jaw clicking or popping when opening or closing your mouth, redness around the lips or nose (from snoring), pain in the neck or shoulders (from snoring), and excessive drooling while sleeping.
Impact of Intraoral Conditions on the Airway
When you peek into someone's mouth and take a look around, you may notice some telltale signs of airway disruption.
If the patient's teeth are crowded or overlapping, that may be an indicator that the jaw is too small for their airway.
The same goes for a person whose molars don't fully meet, which is called an open bite. While this condition can be caused by behavioural issues (like thumb sucking), it can also result from a lack of space in the mouth. Other symptoms might include a long face or underdeveloped chin, which could indicate that the patient has an underbite.
In these cases, patients will want to consult with both dentists and orthodontists in order to address these issues holistically; oftentimes, orthodontists will use dental appliances to help expand a patient's airway while they are undergoing treatment with braces.
By identifying the signs of airway disruption early on, dental professionals are able to treat children before they develop behavioral issues or secondary conditions such as cavities, tooth grinding, sleep apnea, snoring, or asthma problems.
How Your Dental Team Can Help Patients with Airway Disruption
Your dental team can identify airway disruption by screening patients for signs like mouth breathing, snoring, or sleep apnea. Dentists can also analyze the airway using state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging tools and the latest in 3D digital scanning technology to diagnose any issues that could be affecting their oral health.
Once you have identified a problem, treatment depends on the root cause of the issue.
This could mean creating an enlarged tonsil or adenoid with a surgical procedure called adenotonsillectomy, orthodontics to align teeth, eliminating bad habits like thumb sucking or tongue poking that are causing malocclusion (misalignment of teeth), or even a special jaw surgery called genioplasty to improve facial structure and jaw function.
Airway disruption often occurs due to malocclusion from improper tooth alignment, which calls for preventive strategies to keep these problems from occurring in the first place. This could include dental appliances like removable palatal expanders, and fixed braces during growth spurts when children are more likely to experience rapid changes in their jaws and faces.
Dental care can be used to identify a variety of health problems in patients who have difficulty communicating with their doctors. It can also be used as an early warning system for individuals who may be at risk of developing these problems.
Finally, by using dental care as part of a comprehensive treatment plan, it becomes possible for doctors to provide better care for their patients.
There’s probably a litany of reasons you got into dentistry.
You have a passion for oral health and find fulfillment in such pursuits. Providing care for people and bolstering their quality of life is almost definitely a driving factor for your career choice. You may also enjoy the challenge of learning new things every day and keeping updated on the best industry practices.
Nowhere in the above preamble is anything about selling. After all, if you wanted to be a salesperson, you’d work at a car dealership or in real estate. Instead, you’re in the healthcare game, meaning you want to help people, not sell them products, services, or procedures.
However, selling is part of running a business, and while your dental practice is a place of healing, it is very much a business.
The more money you make, the better equipment you can afford, the higher staff salaries you can pay, and the superior overall care you can provide.
So, how do you get over the hump? How can you embrace the selling aspect of your business without pushing it over the edge of garishness?
You don’t want your patients – who trust you as an authority – to view you as sleazy or pushing products or procedures they don’t need to line your pockets. Fortunately, as any expert will tell you, those questionable tactics aren’t what drive sales in your practice.
Read below as we delve further into this topic and show how you can sell in dentistry without projecting the slightest hint of sleaze:
3 Reasons Many Dentists Hate Selling
There are many reasons to dislike or even hate selling. You’re a care provider, for one thing, and hocking products and procedures makes you feel like a huckster. That’s not why you embarked on this particular career journey.
Also, dentistry, in its essence, isn’t supposed to revolve around bottom lines. Focusing on improving your patients’ quality of life and improved oral health is the name of the game.
Below, we’ll examine the main reasons why most dentists don’t enjoy selling:
1. You’re Not Much Of A Talker
Dentistry seems like a haven for practitioners who don’t much exude the gift of the gab.
The proof of your skill set lies in your oral-health knowledge and precision with the various tools of the trade.
So, it might be particularly unappealing–if not entirely intimidating–to go into a scripted sales routine where you’re talking ad nauseam to push products or procedures.
Listening is often a more vital component of the communication process than talking.
It’s how you acquire the necessary information about your patients’ symptoms and various needs. You’ll also gain insights into their understanding, feelings, and attitudes toward their oral health.
Being an active listener – intentionally taking in what a patient is saying without getting distracted – makes selling far more seamless.
Using active listening techniques ensures you only present solutions to patients that help with their problems and apply to their lives. You won’t end up pushing irrelevant products or procedures on patients, nor will you rub them the wrong way.
2. You Hate Being Pushy
We’ve all dealt with a pushy salesperson at some point in our lives. Frankly, there’s nothing worse. Unless you actively seek the help or guidance of someone in a store or similar setting, you typically want to be left alone.
As a sympathetic person, you understand how your patients would feel if you were pushy towards them. They’re stuck in the dentist's chair with nowhere to go. Inundating them with sales pitches they didn’t sign up for is unfair, plain and simple.
Such fears leave you hesitant to sell, yet pushiness is not part of successful selling. It’s quite the opposite, in fact.
Reality: It’s About Helping, Not Pushing
Being a convincing debater is an invaluable life skill that can serve you well in various scenarios. Not in sales, though.
Selling products isn’t the same as writing an argumentative essay where you’re trying to push or prove a thesis. Nor is it similar to a political debate where you’re attempting to debunk and discredit your rival.
So, if you’re concerned about coming across as too pushy by trying to sell at your dental practice, take solace in knowing that selling is helping, not pushing products.
That’s why the active listening mentioned above is such a crucial facet of sales in dentistry. It allows you to guide patients toward solutions they’re seeking based on what they’ve told you.
This approach means avoiding flustering–or even annoying–customers with pitches for products or procedures they don’t want. You aren’t arguing with them or trying to win a debate about their oral health-based needs. Rather, you’re a resource of information.
3. You’re Too Honest
The stakes in dentistry are substantially higher than in–let’s say, for example–retail or the auto industry.
Imagine you bend the truth to sell a low-quality fake-silk blouse or exaggerate a hatchback’s performance capabilities. We’re not condoning such behaviour because it’s dishonest, but neither situation will lead to terrible consequences.
Conversely, you’re an authority figure as a dental professional. You’re supposed to be someone your community can trust to tell it straight. Your patients’ long-term health and quality of life are on the line.
Jazzing up a sales pitch for unneeded products or procedures goes against why you got into the profession. Moreover, bending the truth just to sell flies in the face of oral healthcare and its many philosophies.
Reality: It’s About Transparency, Not Hyperbole
Selling a procedure to a patient isn’t about being sneaky – it’s about letting them know what to expect.
For instance, if a patient needs a crown or a filling, you need to break down why they need it, the costs, and how insurance or co-paying might affect those costs. This way, there are no surprises, and the patient will appreciate that you’ve been upfront.
It’s worth remembering that you’re only being helpful. You’re making suggestions based on what the patient tells you and the current state of their oral health. From there, you’re presenting options and breaking down the financials without making over-the-top, hyperbolic promises.
Avoid over-promising and under delivering on results and price, and patients won’t feel like you’re selling as much as providing care options.
Selling Without The Sleaze
We’ve offered some valuable insights on the misconceptions about selling as a dentist, but now we’ll offer three actionable tips on sleaze-free selling:
1. Get Closer To Your Patients
Patients are the lifeblood of your practice. They keep you afloat by scheduling and paying for appointments and procedures while referring others to your dentistry.
In other words, you already have motivations for getting closer to your patients.
Of course, don’t come on too strong with your patients during appointments by asking overly personal questions. However, added cordiality and pleasant conversation can aid your active listening.
Better relationships and communication with your patients mean you’ll know more about them. For instance, you might learn prom-time is approaching, or they’re considering looking for a new job with higher pay.
In either case, cosmetic dental work could prove invaluable to the patients in question because they’re entering scenarios where they’ll want to look their best.
2. Focus On The Result, Not The Process
The result you want for your patients when you sell them a procedure or product from your practice is improved oral health. That’s where your focus needs to lie.
Getting too caught up in the processes of selling will muddle your motivations and get you too caught up in the techniques. Instead of asking questions to ascertain valuable information to improve treatments, you’ll speak in sales jargon and focus too much on dollar signs.
As a dental practitioner, you don’t use sales tactics–you help and provide optimal care.
Thus, your eyes must always remain on the prize: the best possible oral-health outcomes based on patient needs.
Using the results-first approach as your guiding light prevents the sleaze factor and enhances your image as an oral care authority.
3. Avoid Scare Tactics
For many people, going to the dentist is already scary enough without care providers stoking the anxiety flame. Therefore, when you use scare tactics to sell, you give patients another reason to stop scheduling regular appointments, never mind missing out on additional sales opportunities.
Beyond that, many patients are highly perceptive and can tell when scare tactics are in play. They’ll lose respect for you and no longer trust you as a reliable care provider.
Additionally, today’s patients are everyday consumers. They’re well aware of the value of second opinions.
So, if you try to sell to patients based on an oral health doomsday scenario, they’ll visit another dentist or hygienist to verify what you’ve told them. And they’ll find out you’ve tried selling them a bill of goods.
As we discussed earlier, transparency is key to successful selling in dentistry. Avoid the hyperbole – scare tactics included.
Successful Selling In Dentistry Has Nothing To Do With Sleaze
Following the above tips is your first step toward ramping up your sales efforts at your practice. There’s not an ounce of sleaze involved, and thriving dental professionals worldwide adhere to these honest, forthright philosophies!
You might have heard a whole host of takes on this anti-clenching and anti-grinding tool – and we’re investigating what’s fact and what’s fiction.
What is an NTI?
NTIs are small, plastic, acrylic-made devices covering only a wearer’s anterior teeth.
Training jaw muscles to relax is the primary objective of an NTI, and it prevents the anterior teeth from touching while the wearer is asleep. So, while wearing an NTI, a patient is physically unable to clench their teeth.
In essence, this function of the NTI takes the wearer’s teeth out of the equation, allowing the jaw to slink into the best possible position. It rests the jaw joint and turns off the muscles, relieving tension and hyperactivity.
Another main purpose of NTI is to block out potential pain from the trigeminal nerve located in the head. A sizeable portion of the mouth and face receives sensations from the trigeminal nerve, and the device works to inhibit it.
Bruxism patients can train their muscles to relax and reverse their habits by using an NTI. Commonly, dental professionals suggest that patients struggling with bruxism-rooted migraines use this device.
It’s also worth noting that patients prescribed NTIs shouldn’t be worried about the movement of their teeth since the device won’t prevent it.
How come such a device can be so valuable?
For one, jaw joints are highly complex due to how our teeth bite together.
Most of your patients’ lower and upper teeth fit like claustrophobic puzzle pieces. Ideally, upper and lower teeth seamlessly combine when the ball of the jaw joint rests correctly in the socket. Realistically, though, many people don’t have that perfect symmetry because the teeth fit (or occlusion) outweighs the ball’s position in the jaw joints’ socket.
Thus, unideal bites might lead to teeth that fit perfectly but yank the ball from the socket.
This disparity between the ideal position of the ball in the socket compared to the preferred position of the teeth overstimulates facial muscles. Headaches and muscle tension follow.
Comparing NTIs And Nightguards
The key difference between the NTI and a nightguard is how an NTI stops teeth from touching but doesn’t halt tooth movement.
Nightguards, also made of hard plastics and acrylics, cover the entirety of a wearer’s teeth, cushioning the teeth from grinding and clenching-related traumas.
Depending on what you decide is best for your patient, nightguards can cover their upper or lower arch.
Instead of preventing grinding and clenching, nightguards act as a protective layer stopping patients from wearing down their enamel. Additionally, these devices stifle tooth movement.
Frequently, patients receive nightguard prescriptions after undergoing orthodontic work.
These devices also fit the bill for patients with mobile teeth needing protection from periodontal disease.
Since nightguards cover everything, they hold a patient’s teeth in the ideal mouth position during sleep, stopping tooth-related movement.
Conversely, nightguards don’t mind if the teeth touch since the added cushioning stops them from moving.
Busting Common NTI Myths
As much as we’re living in the information age, we’re also living in the age of misinformation. Without getting all the facts, naysayers perpetuate myths to the detriment of the general public more than ever.
In the case of dentistry, NTIs have felt the brunt of misinformation. Fortunately, we’re here to correct the narrative surrounding this anti-bruxism device:
1. An NTI DOES NOT Cause An Open Bite
There’s a (false) idea that since the posteriors are out of occlusion, an NTI can cause supraeruption, leading to an anterior open bite.
The first sign that the above notion holds little weight is how during 16 hours of the day, patients don’t wear their NTIs. They’ll be talking, swallowing, eating, and clenching during that time.
TMD patients wore an NTI for eight weeks during a peer-reviewed study, resulting in no tooth movement with nightly wear. Further studies found that teeth must be unopposed for anywhere between 24 hours and eight days for any movement to happen.
Another false notion lending credence to the NTI-open bite myth is the forces from the appliance being on the opposing anteriors.
At first, it might seem like there’s merit to the above theory since the bite forces revolve around the opposing anteriors while patients wear NTIs. However, the device leads to a 70% reduction of bite force, decidedly debunking the naysayers.
2. Patients WON’T Swallow Their NTI
It’s a common fear for patients that an NTI is so small that they’ll swallow it.
Unfortunately, some practicing dental professionals perpetuate this myth.
While NTIs are small, they’re much larger than a temp crown that a patient might sleep with.
Furthermore, NTIs are custom-crafted to fit your patients’ mouths, ensuring no chance for any swallowing. To that point, it’s wise to get patients to use all potential force when removing the device with their lips or tongue.
The same research discussed how nearly 97% of respondents stated they’d keep up with their NTI-usage or increase it.
In other words, the advantages of an NTI far eclipse the off-chance of any bite change.
Finding The Right Solution For The Appropriate Patient
An NTI is an exceptional tool for preventing bruxism since it trains the mouth to stop clenching and grinding. There are many scenarios where this device will prove effective and positively impact a wearer’s quality of life.
Still, the correct solution isn’t a one-size-fits-all type of thing. Successful care is about catering your care to your patient’s specific needs.
Therefore, it might work better for a given patient to use a nightguard instead of an NTI. Either way, you have the expertise and skillset to offer the best advice and care!
The balance between saving money while preserving quality is a tale as old as time itself.
Dental practice owners far and wide struggle to hit that happy middle where they’re providing top-notch care without breaking the bank.
Overspending to give your patients the best possible results is commendable, but it’s not sustainable. Conversely, skimping on quality means you have to work twice or three times harder to deliver the same patient outcomes as you would with a more strategic approach.
Today, let’s explore a few ways you can get more for less at your practice by cutting down on overhead expenses without sacrificing your standard of oral care.
Understanding Production and Overhead in Your Dental Practice
Before delving into the meat of this article, let’s go over some important terms.
First is production: how much money your practice brings in for dental services provided over a given time. This period could be monthly or yearly, for instance. Many businesses do quarterly reports.
Adjusted production stems from weighing factors such as insurance participation, refunds, or discounts and subtracting them from the amount discussed above.
The collection is how much money is received from the adjusted production.
Net income, or profit, reflects what remains after your expenses are paid, and you’ve collected your revenues.
How to Reduce Overhead Without Sacrificing Quality Care
Overhead is a tricky notion. It cuts directly into your profits, but your dental practice can’t exist without it. Not investing enough into your dental practice will undercut your team's performance.
Fortunately, there’s a way to wisely invest so that you’re not risking your finances to deliver top-notch care. We’ll discuss those methods below:
The majority of dental practices out there operate with hygienists treating less than ten patients per day, along with providing ancillary services (e.g., bitewings) and prophylactic treatments. Although the above treatments are crucial, you could take advantage of the hygiene department in your practice much more than you do now.
Hygienists can also contribute by selling in-office products, resulting in more revenue opportunities and enhancing your reputation with patients. Furthermore, your clientele is bound to appreciate not having to scour the ends of the earth looking for products your hygienist recommended.
Some products dental practices have successfully sold are electric toothbrushes, whitening kits, and water jets.
Most crucial is ensuring your hygienists don’t feel like a separate entity from the rest of your practitioners.
Hygienists need to know they’re integral pieces of your dental practice. They should be aligned with your goals to work to reduce overhead and increase productivity the same as everyone else.
2. Reevaluate Labour Costs
The only way to staff properly is by knowing your practice and its business model inside and out and ask yourself the following questions:
Does your practice use an outside coordinator for insurance or third-party sterilization technology? If so, should you pay for eight hours a day, or could you outsource?
Can assisted hygiene get rid of appointment wait times and bolster the experiences of your patients?
Can you combine prophylaxis with fixed or removable deliveries, operative or postoperative visits?
Another consideration is the rise in salary for hygienists. For some practice budgets, it’s plainly not affordable. Yet, you still can’t sacrifice quality. So, instead of hiring more hygienists, many practice owners bring on new assistants at a far lower cost while still seeing more patients without sacrificing standards or performance.
Of course, you don’t want to take away anyone’s job, but this approach works best when you’re undergoing changes in staffing (e.g., a hygienist has quit). Plus, you’ll want to keep on hygienists wherever possible – your patients know and like their hygienists, who bring so many benefits to your practice.
3. Keep a Tight Inventory
Do not get sucked into the subscription-based schemes that many supply companies utilize to capitalize on practice owners. Supply companies will also slowly increase contracted rates under your nose if you take your eyes off the prize.
Moreover, you might negotiate great prices initially, and you could be part of specific business groups to receive discounts. Yet, you still might look into your cabinet drawers, operatory shelves, and supply closet and get a nasty surprise.
We suggest taking a weekend, getting a bunch of containers, and starting the decluttering process. Then, take out every supply you have, and before organizing everything, label your shelves.
At this point, it’s time to create your inventory lists. That means counting everything.
Under no circumstances should you order anything without knowing what you already have. Eventually, delegate this task to staff members before ordering supplies. At first, though, you should do it on your own to garner a hands-on understanding of your inventory.
We must then emphasize that you shouldn’t have a list of what’s empty – only write down how many supplies you have.
Also, remember what you paid for supplies when you bought them previously. This knowledge helps prevent price creep from your suppliers. Buy items with long shelf lives in bulk if you have lots of storage space (e.g., an unused operatory), and always keep an eye open for sales.
Ensure that staff marks the packing list next to delivered items. These new supplies must be stored in their designated space, and the stock must be rotated.
4. Own Your Practice's Real Estate
Owning the land on which your practice is located offers several key advantages. Namely, you can control your rent and build your retirement nest egg since you’re increasing equity. You can either earn income as a landlord or eventually make a sale, presenting enormous money-making opportunities.
Additionally, you have more control and freedom with your practice when you outright own it.
Keeping the above factors top of mind, refinancing options are worth exploring for your office property.
Provided a sale isn’t possible for you, we suggest investigating the following options:
Free introductory rent
Investing in extra signage to increase visibility
Ask about allowances for tenant improvement
See if you can renew your lease and if COVID concessions are available
Ask your landlord to refer patients
5. Bring in Balances Owed
Collecting what you’re owed by patients and insurance companies will remove a huge chunk of your overhead.
Run an aging report on the last day of every month. Mark it in your planner or calendar to ensure you don’t forget.
Hand out a printed copy of the account balances from the past two months to your front desk team.
Start with the insurance companies, since collecting those balances is the most straightforward part of this process. All your team needs to do is resubmit the claim.
As for patients, get your front desk staff to text a reminder if they’ve already been given a billing statement.
If you reinforce the importance of collecting balances with a monthly report, it will increase the chances it gets done. Furthermore, provided you’re still using more traditional approaches, consider upgrading to direct deposit payments and electronic claims to speed up insurance collections.
Your practice now has a blueprint for saving on overhead without cutting into the quality of care you provide patients. Don’t get discouraged if the benefits don’t come fast and furious. This strategy is long-term, and you’ll learn as you go, tailoring solutions to your specific situation!
Your tools of the trade as a dental professional can make all the difference in how effectively and successfully you perform your work.
In some instances, the above notion means finding the optimal traditional tools (e.g., drills, scalers, suction devices) that bolster performance. You take the time to adapt your choice of equipment to your specific needs and the types of patients you help.
However, as a dental professional looking to optimize patient results – thereby enhancing your practice’s reputation – you need to look beyond your standard tools.
If you haven’t upgraded yet, there’s no time like the present. We’re amid the technological revolution. So, it should be no surprise that there have been dental innovations in the digital space.
What Is Digital Dentistry?
Digital dentistry includes 3D printers and scanners, but goes beyond that specific scope. The term applies to any service bolstered by computers within a dental lab or practice.
Typically, the main benefits you’ll experience from such tools are increased precision and heightened efficiency.
Read on as we highlight areas of the average practice where digital dentistry is proving most impactful.
1. Restorations Using Digitized Models
Digitized models are used to help generate EMAX and PFM crowns, which are cut with 3D mills to ensure quality, ease of replication, and accuracy.
Digitally-enhanced implants first require dentists to use a scan body to capture a digital model. Before scanning the patient, a scan body must be inserted into the denture.
Doing so can create a digital model that displays the correct denture position.
When compared to gluing, modifying, test fitting, re-test fitting, screwing pieces together, etc., the digitized process is more precise and simplified. The patient experience is enhanced as it’s more streamlined and comfortable.
It’s also possible to design the properly-fitting teeth for a patient’s face in a 3D model and 3D print a mould of those teeth. You can then fill the printed mould with the white composite to provide patients with digitally-bonded veneers that help maintain the structure of their teeth.
2. Digital Diagnostic Tools and Recordkeeping
The digital revolution is taking dental diagnostics by storm. One instance involves intra-oral scanning systems that help locate cavities via infrared technology.
Prompt diagnoses and the ability to identify changes in oral health in real-time are made far easier by maintaining digital records of a patient’s mouth. A fully digital, paperless recordkeeping process is one of the latest trends in the dental industry, fast-forwarded by COVID-19 and the desire to go contactless.
When you digitize patient files, you can access them instantly, removing the need to shuffle through an endless pile of documents in a cabinet. Relevant files such as insurance information, clinical notes, x-rays, etc., are better organized by being saved in one, easily accessible digital file.
The heightened efficiency offered by having your records consolidated into one digital space keeps practice teams updated without the need to scour scattered, chaotic physical files.
For instance, 3D models of a patient’s mouth can be included in digital records. Historic scans and related files are also available.
Clearly, digital recordkeeping saves you and your team lots of time. But it also saves space, allowing you to store crucial information on a USB stick–not on plaster moulds.
3. Guided Dental Surgeries
As a growing trend in the dental space, guided surgeries are made possible by creating a digital model of a patient’s mouth. A CBCT scan and intra-oral scanner design a logical and pinpoint surgery plan.
Such tech can be used for oral surgeries ranging from a mere implant to an entire bone graft.
Advantages Of Digital Dentistry
Below are the indisputable advantages associated with digital dentistry. We’ll note that digital recordkeeping is omitted, but only because it was discussed in detail in the above section.
Improved accuracy and efficiency: Using a computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) tech, prostheses can be made precisely and time-efficiently. Processes are also simplified when performing changes (e.g., fittings and colour) to a patient’s teeth or mouth.
Instant feedback: Scans can quickly be sent to labs for verification purposes without your patient ever leaving the dental chair. You’ll know whether a scan is ideal right away, not wasting anybody’s time.
Increased patient well-being: When held up next to traditional X-rays, digital radiography requires far lower radiation. Immediately, that’s a substantial health-based benefit for patients. Additionally, procedures that employ digital dentistry tools (e.g., mould creation) cause far less discomfort than non-digitized approaches. Patients also prefer the results because the feel, colour, and most other factors are vastly improved via digitization.
Use Cases for Digital Dentistry
To illustrate, here are some real-world examples where digital dentistry significantly improves procedures, vastly enhancing your work quality and patient experience.
Case Study: TMJ Rehabilitation
A case report from a few years ago examined the results of a 47-year-old male with temporomandibular joint (TMJ) symptoms. Aesthetically, he was worried about one of his veneers being chipped.
The patient was treated with a 100% digital workflow, which entailed:
This rehabilitation was meant to prevent the loss of vertical dimension, help subside TMJ problems, and offset damage to other aesthetics.
Findings from the case report indicated how it’s possible to successfully solve issues such as loss of vertical dimension through 100% digitized approaches.
However, the report cites the need for further clinical studies to compile consistent results generated through these procedures from digitized dental workflows versus traditional techniques.
Case Study: Root Extraction and Restoration
A case study from Dentaltown looks at a situation where a hygienist discovered an external root resorption lesion on one of their patient’s teeth (#21).
Then, a CBCT helped determine that the tooth needed to be extracted. To close the space, the patient–after receiving advice from their practitioner–decided to receive an implant instead of orthodontic treatment.
The practitioner worked with the patient to outline their extraction plan, the healing timeline, the implant placement, and the time required for implant osseointegration and restoration.
Next, the patient was imaged in Cerec Ortho before the extraction. It allowed for bite registration and full-arch scanning, making it possible to print a 3D model used to copy the existing tooth shape into the implant restoration.
Practitioner-related stress was reduced with the more accurate digital impression because there’s no stone model to break by removing a thermoplastic retainer. 3D models are durable, but they can also be quickly reprinted if something does happen.
Furthermore, the practitioner found the 3D-printed model streamlined the implant placement process, acting as a guide.
Now, there was an issue the tooth #20 not leaving enough room for the implant. The patient elected for limited orthodontic movement aided by more 3D modelling that helped develop an aligner the patient would wear for 10 days to move tooth #20 accordingly.
After another aligner was used, the implant treatment was performed as scheduled and without a hitch.
According to the practitioner, one of the crucial advantages of the digitized process was using actual soft tissue contours to outline the parameters for the final restoration. Analog workflows don’t allow for such accuracy and precision.
It’s time for your practice to embrace the future. The right digital dental tools will vastly improve your performance, increase your return on investment, and offer better patient outcomes. There’s nothing more a dental professional can ask for!
In life, what works for one person might not work for someone else. The world of dentistry is much the same.
From one-off treatments to entire oral health plans, patients need tailored care that suits their unique needs.
When you go with a one-size-fits-all approach, you limit the chances of your patients achieving peak oral health and you stifle yourself from growing as a practitioner.
With the above sentiments in mind, we’ll confidently say there's no hard and fast answer when choosing between the two best methods of interdental cleaning: water picking (also known as water flossing) and flossing. It depends on the situation, the practitioner, and the patient, as we’ll discuss below.
First, a quick refresher: why is it so important to clean between the teeth?
Why Cleaning Between The Teeth Is Essential
We all know the base-level oral health principles or rules you tell all your patients:
Brush twice per day.
Clean the spaces between all teeth once per day at minimum.
It's that tricky second point that tends to get your patients confused.
Too often, people think consistent brushing alone is enough to prevent tooth loss, gum disease, bad breath, and cavities. Unfortunately, while frequent brushing is a core building block to optimal oral health, it’s not enough..
Between your teeth hide the bacteria, plaque, and food particles that evade your toothbrush’s bristles, which aren’t small enough to reach those nooks and crannies.
Instead, those areas require your patients to use one or both of the two following two tools to perform interdental cleaning:
Water pick or Water-flosser
Water Picking/Water Flossing
Let’s delve into the finer points of water picking/flossing first, before taking a closer look at the traditional method of dental floss.
What Is A Water-Flosser/Water Pick?
A water-flosser cleans away bacteria, particles, and food particles under your gums and between your teeth with pulsating water from a pressurized stream.
According to the American Dental Association, water-flossers can successfully rid teeth and gums of plaque. Thus, these tools prevent gum disease and cavities – a primary benefit of plaque removal.
Water-flossers are typically ideal for patients with dental implants, crowns, braces, or bridges.
The Right Way to Use a Water-Flosser
Step 1: - Fill the reservoir with warm water
Step 2: - Press on the device’s base firmly
Step 3: - Select a tip - Click the tip into the handle
Step 4: - Use the lowest pressure setting at the beginning - While leaning over the sink, place the tip in your mouth to avoid spilling water
Step 5: - Switch on the water-flosser - Prevent water splashes by partially closing your mouth
Step 6: - Allow water to flow to the sink from your mouth
Step 7: - The tip should be aimed at your gum line
Step 8: - Turn the device off when complete. - To remove the tip, hit the “eject” button
Benefits Of Water Picking
Since the handle design is comfort-forward, water-flossing gives people with arthritis a comfortable option for cleaning between their teeth. It’s also good for people who happen to struggle with traditional floss strings.
These tools get into areas that can be tough to reach, such as tight spaces between teeth and gum disease-induced periodontal pockets.
Most importantly, a water-flosser can clean between the teeth without causing the gums to bleed.
Drawbacks Of Water Picking
Water-flossing doesn’t necessarily remove all plaque, and it’s far more expensive than regular floss, ranging between $35 and $100. Water-flossers can also be tough to get used to, resulting in frustrating messes and spills.
Everybody should floss, as it’s a critical component of dental hygiene. Nowadays, floss is available in many flavours and is wax or unwaxed.
The Right Way To Floss
Step 1: - Wind an 18-inch piece of floss around both middle fingers
Step 2: - Leave 1 to 2 inches between your hands by pinching the floss with your thumbs and first fingers
Step 3: - Use both hands to pull the floss tight - Your index fingers should create a back and forth motion
Step 4: - Wrap the floss around the tooth and slide it up and down the tooth surfaces and beneath the gums
Step 5: - Start at the bottom teeth and work your way to the top
Benefits Of Traditional Flossing
Flossing is the easiest, most affordable, tried-and-true way to remove plaque and food particles from your teeth. It’s also convenient to purchase, as you can find it promptly in any grocery or drug store.
Drawbacks Of Traditional Flossing
A primary issue with flossing is how tough it can be to reach some parts of your mouth. It can also cause a bit of bleeding.
Flossing might also lead to sensitive gums (or exacerbate them). The floss thread itself can be difficult to use, especially if you have arthritis.
Flossing vs. Water Picking: Which is Better?
Water picking is no substitute for flossing, but it provides unparalleled benefits to the patients that need it.
So, our final verdict is neither water picking nor traditional flossing is better.
The answer is based on your patient’s needs and oral care plan since water picking and traditional flossing provide exceptional results when used appropriately!
Knowledge and skill are crucial to your role as an oral healthcare provider - but if you don't have the right tools available to you, knowledge and skill won't be enough.
The wrong dental handpiece will hinder even the most reliable hygienist or dentist, causing fatigue and leading to drawn-out procedure times.
Only by equipping each member of the team with the appropriate handpiece can you overcome these obstacles.
Your handpiece is crucial to your success. By choosing the right dental handpiece, you can eliminate fatigue, decrease procedure times, increase patient satisfaction, and see more patients per workday.
The Wrong Handpiece Causes Fatigue and Musculoskeletal Problems
As a dentist or dental hygienist, you are susceptible to certain musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) such as carpal tunnel. Dental practitioners are cited as being on the list of professionals most susceptible to MSD-based conditions, including:
Since working with dental handpieces necessitates contorting arms and hands over extended periods, it’s one of the aspects of your job conducive to MSDs. Therefore, it’s absolutely critical to find a handpiece that mitigates the strain by finding an ergonomic handpiece.
Specifically, it’s best to avoid heavy handpieces, which become painful after long stretches of usage. That strain accumulates over time, slowly breaking down the bodies of industry professionals, often leading to early retirement.
The Value of An Ergonomic Handpiece
A lighter handpiece improves ergonomics immediately, reducing fatigue, improving hand lineage, and even bettering your vision. This steady stream of advantages leads to higher levels of comfort and substantially superior clinical performance.
What To Look For in an Ergonomic Handpiece
While high speed handpieces have always been lightweight (at 3 ounces), slower handpieces meant for polishing have typically weighed in at 0.5 pounds. Such heaviness is tough enough for any dental professional, but clinicians with small hands are particularly at risk.
Nowadays, there’s been a shift in how polishing-focused handpieces are built, with evenly distributed weight being a primary feature. This evolution has led to polishing handpieces weighing in at 3 ounces, similar to the high speed makes.
2. Hand Size and Balance
Just as a large, heavy handpiece won’t suit a petite practitioner, a smaller handpiece wouldn’t work for more sizable clinicians with large hands.
Furthermore, the old-fashioned, slower handpieces have heavy motors at one end. This design forces the clinician to leverage the added weight throughout procedures to maintain handpiece balance.
Over time, this increased workload leads to injuries from repetitive stress and fatigue. Vulnerability is particularly present in the muscles and nerves of the hands and forearms.
A critical factor you must consider with your handpiece is noise and its impact on your patients’ experiences.
Dental drills are a common source of patient anxiety and unease. Even the most compliant, easy-going patient can become uncooperative due to this equipment’s high-pitched whine.
You’ve probably seen the signs first hand – a patient who has buried their chin into their chest and tensed their facial muscle. At this point, it’s challenging to even execute the most basic of tasks that you’d usually be able to perform in your sleep.
These tensions don’t make your job any easier, adding to your ergonomic strife.
While the discomfort suffered by your patient might be unavoidable, they still require the best care possible. You don’t need the high-pitch sounds being a distraction to you as well. It, therefore, will be beneficial to equip team members with custom-made earplugs to block out the noise.
This way, even when patients are struggling, they’ll receive the care they deserve.
The Economic Advantages of Sound Ergonomics
Having the right dental handpiece in your practice allows everyone to perform their job better and more efficiently.
Fatigue and pain will be limited, so your team can see more patients since they won’t be tired and sore. Plus, the higher quality equipment ensures that work is done faster, creating room in the schedule for more patients.
Additionally, the work performed with the superior equipment will be of higher quality, thereby encouraging more patients to come to your practice. And more patients means more revenue.
Investing in high-quality ergonomic handpieces also extends the career – and earning potential–of your team of practitioners, so everybody makes more money in the long run.
When it comes to buying dental handpieces, you want each practitioner at your practice to have the tools they need to perform at their best so your patients get the best possible outcome.
Understanding the anatomy of a dental handpiece will help you better understand what you’re looking for in a handpiece. To that end, the following article discusses in detail about the various parts and components of a dental handpiece, as well as how they each serve their purpose.
1. Dental Handpiece Body
The body, neck, and head form the largest and most important part of a dental handpiece. Cheap, less durable handpieces usually have a body made of an inexpensive metal such as brass. Stainless steel is a lighter and more durable body option than brass, offering greater protection against damage caused by autoclaving. Titanium is even lighter than stainless steel, but titanium is also more expensive; stainless steel offers the same functionality at a lower cost.
The body delivers air and water to the handpiece head, which includes:
Drive air (which rotates the turbine)
Chip air (this atomizes water spray)
After passing through the turbine, drive air is exhausted through the handpiece’s hollow body and down the tubing.
New sterilizer designs stave off internal corrosive buildup that closes off the handpiece exhaust ports by applying fresh distilled water for every steam cycle.
Some models come with multi-port water spray that evenly distributes water throughout the work area.
2. Dental Handpiece Turbine
Handpiece turbines operate at free and active speeds.
The maximum rpm with no load is classified as free speed. Conversely, the active speed is the rpm to which the turbine decreases during engagement with the tooth.
Often, a high-speed handpiece’s active speed is between 300,000 and 450,000 RPM, allowing for streamlined teeth cutting. It also leaves a clean, smoothed-out margin that mitigates trauma to the impacted tissues and structures. Slow speed handpieces run between 5,000 and 40,000 RPM.
The torque and power measure a handpiece’s ability to remove tooth structure. Power is measured in watts of energy, while torque is expressed in oz/inch.
Older generation handpieces could only generate 10 to 13 watts of power, paling when compared to their newer counterparts' 15 to 18 watts. Another potential advantage of new models is smaller head sizes.
With more power comes less physical demand as a practitioner, reducing strain and fatigue on your hands and wrist. This perk provides long-term ergonomic benefits that extend practitioners’ careers.
3. Dental Handpiece Bur
Burs are fixed or interchangeable tools attached to the handpiece that are used for cutting, grinding, and removing hard and soft tissue in the oral cavity. Dental burs are typically made from tungsten carbide or diamond. The component that securely holds the bur for polishing or cutting is called the chuck.
Turbine life can be impacted by the cutting instrument or bur. Overusing dull burs can cause you to place more lateral force against the tooth structure. As a result, the side load on bearings increases, generating too much friction during handpiece operation.
Sable Industries offers two fiber optic high speed handpiece models that fit onto Kavo MultiFLEX couplers and two non-optical high speed handpiece models that fit onto Sable 4-hole couplers. Sable model Kavo MultiFLEX couplers (4, 5 & 6 hole), NSK style couplers (4 & 6 hole), and Sable couplers for our non-optic high speeds (2 & 4 hole). All 6 hole couplers come in both LED or Halogen bulb variations (Kavo and NSK styles).
Anatomy of a Handpiece and its Impact on the Buying Process
Head Size and Angle
Head size and cutting power typically contrast, leading to a natural balancing act between the two.
Smaller head sizes contribute to enhanced access and visibility in the posterior region.
Alternatively, larger head sizes utilize a bigger turbine impeller with greater inertial mass levels. This feature leads to increased power output. With more power comes less time spent on tooth preparation.
You also must weigh head angulation.
Typically, handpiece heads have been angled 22.5 degrees backward to keep the instrument in a practitioner’s line of sight. The pitfall here is limited access to posterior teeth. The handpiece will contact the maxillary arch, too, causing patient discomfort.
However, the head angles on newer designs improve access to posterior teeth while providing increased patient comfort.
Long-term hearing loss is a real and present risk for dental professionals using high-speed handpieces throughout their careers.
Beyond that, when handpieces are too loud, it’s detrimental to your bedside manner, causing discomfort for patients and triggering their anxiety.
Newer handpiece models operate with reduced sound levels, operating anywhere between 58 and 71 decibels.
Ergonomic Body Design
Carpal tunnel syndrome and other related musculoskeletal diseases can result from holding awkward, heavy handpieces for extended periods.
Fortunately, handpieces are constructed with drastically different lengths, weights, and balances, meaning models exist for practitioners of all sizes. Find the best feel and fit for your hand by “test-driving” ergonomic handpieces at your practice. Don’t demo a handpiece at a tradeshow because it can’t adequately emulate your work environment.
Wider, flared body shapes at the handpiece’s rear are currently trending. This design offsets the need for pinching force when gripping the instrument, limiting wrist and hand fatigue.
Water spray–used as a coolant–is a feature found in all high-speed handpieces.
The cutting-edge technology these days is a multiport spray from the face of the handpiece. This innovation results in evenly distributed coolant water across the tooth’s surface. It also prevents any blocking of water spray during cutting on the distal tooth surface.
Fiber optics dictate your visibility when using a handpiece.
Cellular optics are now being used in handpiece construction. Instead of being made from a collection of optic fibers, cellular optics are made of one solid glass rod.
LED light bulbs are the latest innovation in fiber optics, generating a whiter, brighter light.
Fully rotating swivels can be added to connect delivery tubing to the handpiece. This feature decreases tubing torque, preventing long-term wear and tear.