Quantity vs Quality

By Dr. Addison Killeen

June 13, 2023

Recently I came across the debate around the subject of quantity versus quality. I was at a dinner with friends and we were discussing whether it is better to go slow and work on quality or move fast and get quantity. Just like any argument, there are strong points with both sides.

It could be said that quantity might be the better way to go. There is such a need for dental services out there that we need to think about how many people we can help. There is work to be done and you can still offer a great product even if you go quickly. By doing more work, it could be argued, you are doing a service to society and thereby improving the health of the entire community.

With quality it could be said that going slow and taking your time leads to above average results that will stand the test of time. Spending more time on a filling will lead to a better final product. Spending more time planning and placing an implant will usually lead to better final angulation and emergence profile.

In the dental practice, this can often be a lateral discussion that leads to: “Should I drop PPOs so that I bill as Fee-for-Service and am able to spend more time with patients, thereby increasing my perceived quality?” Thereby inserting the hottest new question: PPO vs. FFS.

I am not here to wade into that discussion because the argument is never as simple as that. And quite frankly, substituting the “PPO vs. FFS” with “Quality vs. Quantity” is actually a false substitution. They are completely different questions. The perceived dichotomy is also false.

One way to think about it is that quantity → leads to → quality. If you do 100 fillings, then your next 5 will be better than your first 5. It is the same with implants: the more you do, the better you get. For me, quantity is a tool to get to quality.

Also, just because you’re choosing quantity right now, it does not mean that you can not focus on quality later. In fact, maybe that is the biggest takeaway. When you are early in the process: work on quantity. Get in your reps. Do the work.

Once you have learned 100 different ways that things go wrong, once you have learned the best practices, once you have the confidence to excel at a procedure, then focus on quality.

Be well and do well,
Dr. Addison Killeen

P.S. If you want more advice from Dr. Addison Killeen, check out the manuals available from DSN!