Day: November 30, 2021 (page 1 of 1)

Business side of dentistry: The two most overlooked pieces of technology in your office

Editor’s note: This is the eighth article in a series exploring the business aspects of the dental profession, from starting a practice and marketing to hiring staff and finances.

Dr. Deshpande

A lot of us are thinking of buying a CEREC system in our brand-new office, hoping it make things efficient. We also consider getting the fanciest massage chairs for patients to use. You know what most patients really care about? Being attended to in time and being appreciated and cared for by our staff. Read below to read about two technologies that are already in every office but may not be used to their maximum advantage.


Did you know that many phone calls get missed by an average dental office? Did you know the most common time patients call to schedule appointments? Do you know what it costs for you as a practice owner to not know the above numbers?

Many practices spend a lot of money on marketing and getting the “right patient” in the door. Most patients will first check your online presence: your website and read your bio, then they check reviews, and finally, they’ll pick up the phone call and make an appointment. What if nobody picks up the phone on the other side? What if the patient leaves a message and does not even have it returned?

Guess what, by the time you figure out what happened, that patient called up another office and has an appointment on Monday.

What gets tracked, gets done. Consider having a phone tree — to have phones directed to the right person in your office — so the phone isn’t tied. Insurances, emergencies or billing, are three possible categories in a phone tree. Do you know which category will have the longest call?Invest in a software that allows you to record each phone conversation (check if your state allows it first), transcribe VM’s, and that helps you audit your front office member’s personality. It is so important to have someone cheerful and happy answer new patient calls.Make sure there is someone manning the phone at all times. Like most of our patients, I too, frequently make appointments for my chiropractor, personal physician and dentist during my lunch hour — 12-1 pm, on a weekday!Maybe you couldn’t pick up the phone. Fine. Ensure your scheduler reviews all VM’s at the start of the next day and gives everyone a call back. They should do the same for all no shows, or late cancels too.


Ever thought of your perfect day in dentistry? It actually does exist. Every dentist has a different way of doing things, and the great thing about this is that in most scheduling systems you can input your own specifications. I, for example, like to complete root canals, implants or fillings at the beginning of the day, extractions right before lunch, and new patient exams or child prophies at the end of the day. One of my pet peeves is a quadrant filling at the end of the day. Figure out what is your way of doing things and tell your front office how you’d like them to schedule for you. This is your office after all.Many business gurus agree that providers shouldn’t have unnecessary breaks in the day. While I agree with this thinking, it does not have to apply to everyone. Paint your own perfect day and try to make each day amazing.One of the front office managers I used to work with told me that the thing that annoys them the most is inconsistency and lack of instruction from the dentist. “Why don’t they just tell us how they like it? They only complain when it’s not done right.” Every single person in the office wants their dentist to succeed. In order for them to help you, you just need to give them more information.

Can you think of another important aspect of a practice? Team appreciation, bonus structures and outsourcing are other key elements. Join our New Dentist Business Club meetings where we go into detail in all of those. To join, email us at [email protected]

Dr. Sampada Deshpande is a general dentist based in San Francisco. A foreign trained dentist from India, Sampada earned her DDS from the University of Washington in 2018 and is a 2020-2021 UW-LEND fellow. Outside of clinical dentistry, she enjoys teaching at the New Dentist Business Club and improving access to technology in healthcare via her involvement in Samsotech. You can reach her directly at @dr.deshpande on Instagram or visit her website for more information.

Editor’s note: We know that finding the right practice can be overwhelming and time consuming. That’s why the ADA created ADA Practice Transitions (ADAPT), a service that matches you with practices that fit your practice approach and lifestyle. We provide customized resources to ensure you feel confident in your decisions and an ADA Advisor supports you during each step of the journey. Learn more at

Looking for ways to increase access to care? Consider GKAS

The ADA’s Give Kids A Smile program has been my gateway into public health as well as an avenue to leadership within the ADA. Like many others, I first learned about GKAS during dental school, where the event was held annually.

Dr. Smeenge

It was a fun-filled day of free pediatric dentistry, identifying and addressing treatment needs for children who otherwise were not receiving care. As a University of Michigan dental student, it gave me a chance to learn more about pediatrics, while giving back to the community. During my D2, D3, and D4 years, I joined the dental school leadership team to help plan the event. Then as a pediatric resident, I oversaw patient care and enjoyed teaching the dental students.

In 2015, as a D3 student, I had the opportunity to attend the ADA’s GKAS Community Leadership Development Institute. Selected GKAS program coordinators from across the U.S. shared their experiences, learned from each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and ended the program by participating in the St Louis GKAS clinic event — the one that started it all.

Dr. Jeff Dalin and his team are truly inspirational, educating and treating hundreds of children who otherwise would not get dental care due to a variety of health disparities. In 2017, I had the opportunity to join other GKAS Ambassadors in Chicago at the ADA headquarters to once again join forces and find creative solutions to barriers to care and challenges to running a GKAS program.

This led to the opportunity to become the new dentist representative on the ADA’s GKAS National Advisory Committee. Through this position, I am able to share my perspective as a recent graduate and as a pediatric specialist.  We develop promotional campaigns and problem solve at the national level. I am grateful to be part of an amazing group of people, who all share a passion for helping children establish a dental home and for equipping general dentists with the knowledge and resources to comfortably screen and treat children.

Some of you may have experience with leadership positions in undergrad or even in dental school, but once you graduate, it can feel like there is so much on your plate, especially in the midst of a pandemic. Can, or rather, should, you add one more thing?

Being on the ADA’s GKAS National Advisory Committee easily fits into my schedule. It gives me a chance to hear other perspectives across the country, and to make a difference at a national level. As someone just starting my career, I appreciate being able to learn from people who have a wide range of backgrounds and experiences.

I highly recommend getting involved at some level, whether that is as a state dental association representative or within one of the many ADA councils or committees. Not only will you be making sure that new voices are being heard, but you will also learn a valuable perspective on how organized dentistry operates. It can feel overwhelming, trying to tackle access to care issues on your own, but organized dentistry allows individuals to come together and make a greater impact.

Most recently, I have been working on Tiny Smiles, a subset of GKAS focused on establishing a dental home for children under age 5. The recommendation for a child’s first dental visit is age 1, due to the increased incidence in caries at a younger age.

However, many dentists may feel ill-equipped to complete a knee-to-knee exam or address active carious lesions on such young patients. We are creating continuing education opportunities to increase comfort levels on this topic. Connecting with your neighborhood pediatricians and getting a child in the door for an exam is the first step. You can then educate parents on hygiene and diet recommendations. If they have treatment needs: refer! Parents who feel comfortable with you for their young child, will recommend you to their friends and family members, it’s a great patient builder!

If you have any questions about GKAS, Tiny Smiles, or getting involved in the ADA at a national level, please don’t hesitate to ask! Information on GKAS and Tiny Smiles can be found on

Dr. Betsey Baumann-Smeenge is a pediatric dentist at a Federally Qualified Health Center in White Cloud, Michigan. She earned her dental degree and her masters in pediatric dentistry from the University of Michigan. She is the “New Dentist” representative on the ADA’s Give Kids A Smile National Advisory Committee and is a GKAS Ambassador. She is passionate about making dental care accessible for all children. Feel free to reach out with any questions or comments: [email protected]

Licensure Reform: The case for eliminating the clinical exam

Some may argue that progress has indeed been made in the administration of the licensure exam over the last 50 years given that regional testing authorities have increased from two in 1971 to the current number of five.

Although undoubtedly there has been improvement in the uniformity, the ease of test-taking, and the administration of the examination, the traditional mode of testing essentially remains the same.

That is, dentists and dental students in 44 States still have to endure the single-episode/performance-based high-stakes clinical exam, whether it be on patients or manikins. It is striking (and embarrassing) that our dental profession remains the only health care profession that subjects its candidates for licensure to this mode of testing i.e. M.D.s don’t need to perform surgery, nurses and EMTs don’t need to demonstrate CPR or start an IV, midwives don’t need to deliver a baby, and osteopaths don’t need to perform various manipulations, etc.

The bottom-line is that it has been far too long for our profession to continue to endure such an outdated and unfair licensing process.

Dr. Jonathan Nash, who served as the American Student Dental Association chair of dental licensure reform in 1971, and the founder and chairman of the National Council for Improvement of Dental Licensure 1969-73, examines the state of dental licensure reform today and makes a case for bolder solutions to achieve meaningful reform.

Read the full editorial in the New Dentist News.

Did you miss our previous article…

Something to be thankful for

As we prepare our hearts, minds, and bellies for the season of giving thanks, I found a symbolic comparison of those English immigrants and refugees to the journey dentists face. The definition of a pilgrim is a person who journeys to a sacred place for religious reasons. In a sense, we are a 21st century pilgrim as we journey for a decade sacrificing our pleasures and time for the opportunity to earn our doctorate in dental medicine. The black robes we wore on graduation day is a legacy of the same cloth worn by clergy in the Middle Ages. The path to medicine is in fact a journey, a pilgrimage. A medical provider/pilgrim, who is entrusted to heal those in their care, is the merger of sacred and science.

Dr. Norlin

Those pilgrims of old could have stayed in their status quo, not rock the boat of the ruling English elite, or move to Holland that allowed the freedom of religion. Instead they wanted more, their hopes and dreams for something better than their present state. We could have gone down so many different paths, avenues, adventures, but for whatever reasons, opportunities, or influences the world of dentistry was the course we set for our sails.

Just like the pilgrims, we though the grass would be greener, life and work balance easier, and our mental/spiritual would blossom. Those that decided to make that journey to the new world were hit with the brutal reality of failing crops, freezing weather, faminous bellies and funerals of love ones. The dreams of dentistry can seem more like a nightmare with debt, saturation, lower insurance rates, competition, damage to your body, shrinking middle class, COVID-19 and ever more angry patients.

As the pilgrims came to fulfill their personal and spiritual beliefs they were also exposed to mental and spiritual trauma. While we might not be dying of the elements, disease, or malnutrition many of our spirits are crushed. Let’s be honest, Americans and especially the young medical and dental professionals are calling for help with burnout, anxiety, depression, and suicide rates that can be four times the rate of the general population and even twice as high as veterans and armed forces members. In August 2020, the ADA Health Policy Institute conducted a survey on the impact of COVID-19 on dentists under the age of 35. Responses showed that 87% reported experiencing anxiety, 76% reported financial problems and 55% reported experiencing depression. If you are hurting please reach out to someone, especially during this holiday season.

I am sure many of those pilgrims questioned and regretted why they left their familiar homes to a new place that they were told was the promise land. Instead they were tormented with destitute, despair, and death. The fulfillment and hope seemed to crumble into fables and lies. I know of some dentists seeking other jobs and careers outside of dentistry. After the sacrifice to get to this doctorate and new dentists want to leave shows the real challenges this profession faces.

In the autumn of 1621 AD, exactly 400 years ago, the first recorded Thanksgiving took place. After months of hardships and trials, that happy moment must have been a somber moment as well. There were family members whose laughs and smiles would never grace an earthly table, and the survivors still carrying the scars of physical and emotion trauma as they hope for the future.

Even in our best work days, holidays and weekends, we probably can remember those hard days as well, time spent away from loved ones with an ever demanding schedule, the pain in the arms and back, stresses of rising costs, and decreasing wages, the worry of a business or no show that constantly tugging at your mind or even just the mundane of trying to keep a tongue out of the MODBL prep on #18.

To earn a chair on the table of the family of dentistry, the pilgrimage is extensive, laborious, and challenging. It has its blessing, it has its curse. Some of us are excited and glad to be on this table, others may have our regrets and can’t wait to leave and others waiver somewhere in between. But take heart we are still pilgrims drawn to a sacred place seeking wellness to our soul, and each day’s a journey you decide to make. That is something to be thankful for.

*if you don’t have any dentist to talk to about the stresses of our profession, life stresses, etc please feel free to email me at [email protected]

Dr. Casey Norlin is a New Dentist Now guest blogger and went to Oregon Health and Science University. He comes from a rural background and lives in Oregon City, Oregon, with his beautiful wife. Casey works in public health, has been a volunteer firefighter/advanced EMT for Colton Rural Fire District, an assistant professor for OHSU SOD, and is an Army dentist for the ORANG 41st Infantry Brigade. As of now he still hasn’t decided what he wants to do when he “grows up.”

Did you miss our previous article…