OK, let’s talk. There are a number of common habits that on the surface seem like good things but are actually holding you back from practicing more efficiently. Get ready to ditch these five dental faux pas for faster, higher-quality dentistry: a patient experience so good, they might even look forward to their next visit.
1. Quit Piddling and Chasing Perfection
You know what they say, “Perfection is like a unicorn – you’ll never catch it!” Instead of chasing the mythical beast, aim for excellence.
As one of my professors put it, “Aim for excellence, and you’ll last a lot longer.” Trying to reach perfection can actually decrease the quality of your work. So, once you’ve achieved an excellent result, resist the urge to keep piddling. (You know, like when you keep perfecting those anterior composite veneers and in the end realize that your original result was better AND took you less time.)
This also has the added benefit of making your patient’s day by getting them out of that chair faster.
2. Don’t Play Musical Burs
If you find yourself swapping back and forth between burs and handpieces like it’s a dental orchestra, it’s time to stop the madness. Streamline your workflow by picking up that high-speed handpiece and sticking with a bur/diamond until the task is complete. Not only will this save you time, but it’ll also prevent you from developing a new form of dental carpal tunnel syndrome.
3. Give Burs a Break, Don’t Break Them
Reusing burs is a habit that should be left in the dental Stone Age. Not only does it slow down your prep time and make your assistant’s life harder (cleaning, sterilizing, restocking, etc), but dull burs can turn up the heat on your patient’s pulp. That’s not good for you or the patient. Plus let’s be honest, a dull bur is more likely to have you slipping and cutting the adjacent tooth: creating additional problems. So, save your burs, save your time, and save your sanity.
4. Time to Dump the Waiting Game
If your anesthesia hasn’t kicked in within 5 minutes, it’s time to stop playing the waiting game. There’s no magic trick that’ll make your patient suddenly numb after that point. It’s time to unveil your backup anesthesia technique. Think a reliable PDL or Intraosseous injection technique.
5. Quit Ambling Through the Hygiene Check
No more aimless wandering through your hygiene checks – it’s time to have a system!
These are my favorite steps for a quicker check, a flawless case presentation, and more treatment acceptance:
- Start with a warm greeting and some small talk to put your patient at ease.
- Get the report from your trusty hygienist or assistant.
- Listen to the patient’s chief complaint (it is their mouth after all).
- Complete a thorough examination.
- Present your diagnosis (in language a 5th grader could understand) along with pictures of any problem areas.
- Recommend the treatment (again, 5th grader friendly) complete with a vivid description of what happens if they leave it untreated. Don’t sugar-coat it.
- Lastly, be specific about the treatment timeline. “Next week,” “Within a month”– none of that vague “soon” nonsense, please.
Give one of these habits the boot each week, and in just a month or so, you’ll find that your days are smoother and your patients are happier. You might even have time for that extra cup of coffee.
P.S. Wanting to increase your clinical efficiency game? Check out Dr. Nicholas’ Hands on courses for Root Canal Therapy and Extractions in 2024. Registration for his 90 Day Clinical Accelerator starting in January is also now open! Dr. Nicholas developed this technique over decades of practicing dentistry and makes keeping common emergency procedures in-house simple, predictable and profitable.
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