Monday, March 27, 2017


CareCredit, a well-respected company offering dental care financing options for patients, has been endorsed by the ADA Business Resources division since 2001. In late 2016, CareCredit received a seven-year extension of the ADA endorsement. Among stipulations a company must meet in order to receive ADA endorsement: the company must be an industry leader, offer a higher-than-the-norm service standard, and give ADA members preferred pricing. The payment options offered by CareCredit allow patients to accept treatment that they could not afford otherwise. Cases most often financed by patients via CareCredit exceed $1,000. Flexible payment plans offered by CareCredit, a third party, means increased case acceptance without the dentist having to make financial arrangements with individual patients for high dollar cases. For more information visit
The 115th U.S. Congress has four dentists serving as representatives. These are Dr. Mike Simpson, Idaho 2nd District; Dr. Paul Gosar, Arizona 4th District; Dr. Brian Babin, Texas 36th District; and Dr. Drew Ferguson, Georgia 3rd District. Cheers for these colleagues who are serving their constituents at the expense of continuing their own dental careers.
Dentists took the #1 spot for 2017 in U.S. News & World Report’s annual ranking of Best Jobs of the Year. Rounding out the top-ten list: nurse practitioners, physician assistants, statisticians, nurse anesthetists, pediatricians, computer system analysts, and obstetricians/gynecologists. General dentists took the top spot with orthodontists at #5 and oral and maxillofacial surgeons at #9 in the top ten list. Criteria by which the top ten are chosen: 10-year growth by volume and by percentage, job prospects, employment rate, median salary, stress level of the job, and overall balance of work and life. Further, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted general dentistry employment growth of 18% in the decade between 2014 - 2024 with 23,300 new job openings. Congratulations, dental practitioners! 

Monday, March 20, 2017


Dental practice overhead continues to demand an ever-greater percentage of net collections. Said another way, the costs of operating your office keep escalating. One key to controlling overhead is staff awareness of daily costs and how savings, even small savings, can add up to big bucks. The entire team, including auxiliaries and dentists, should know about daily operating costs and ways to save.

I’ve calculated daily costs for many dental offices and seen the shock register on staff members’ and dentists’ faces when the enormous total is read. Understanding that literally thousands of dollars are spent daily and where that money goes is a wake-up call for the group to focus on savings. For example, turn off lights in empty rooms, use only the amount of materials needed rather than excess; buy supplies in bulk for best pricing; bid office insurances yearly for lowest cost; keep up with subscriptions so they are not renewed before due dates; decrease the amount of professional discounts on dental services; check every invoice against packing slips or services rendered before payment is made; and on and on.

Daily costs are easy to calculate on either a quarterly or an annual basis. The following simplified example uses the Profit and Loss Statement for a year, 190 work days, analyzed by seven categories: (1) Personnel, (2) Occupancy, (3) Administrative,  (4) Equipment, furnishings, contingency (savings that can fund office operation for at least three months in case of crisis or disaster), (5) Clinical supplies, (6) Lab, and (7) Marketing. 

Divide the annual total of each expense category by 190 work days to find the daily cost of each. Add those totals to calculate the daily overhead BEFORE any compensation for the dentist. In our simplified example, costs are $4,927/day.  Ouch!   

The entire team should be aware of not only total daily costs for the seven general categories, but also costs of specific items such as utilities, telephone, aggregate staff compensation (wages and benefits for the group, never individual information), office supplies, clinical supplies, computer operation and IT support, janitorial costs, office rent or lease payment, lab, and so on. Sharing this information supports the dentist’s suggestions to save where possible, even in small ways.

There are two ways to increase your income: EARN MORE and SPEND LESS.  Bringing your team along on the SPEND LESS efforts will go a long way toward increasing the bottom line--PROFIT!

Monday, March 13, 2017


The most successful practices with whom I have consulted during my 35-year career make CE for staff members a priority. Additionally, these offices embrace many ways of providing continuing education in addition to the occasional sponsored seminar.
A practice dedicated to continuous learning by the entire staff emphasizes CE as a condition of employment. From day one on the job, every team member is told and understands that this practice is committed to each individual team member’s personal growth through CE. The goal is to develop an aura of enthusiasm for learning--learning for work skill growth and learning for the pleasure of personal growth.
Ideas for emphasizing CE in your office:

·         Set up a resource center in the office, preferably in its own small room, but even a corner in a storage area will suffice. Include a dental dictionary; textbooks for technical study; training videos to be viewed in the office or off site; current dental periodicals including the ADA News and practice specialty publications; and motivational or personal growth books. Encourage staff members to use these resources, perhaps by setting up a reward system. 

·         Dedicate 5 to 10 minutes of each team meeting to training or a review session on particular clinical treatments or business desk details. Rotate leadership of the short sessions among team members or the dentists. 

·         Encourage individuals to write a brief summary of a book, periodical article, or video they found particularly instructional. Post the reviews in the staff area or ask the author to read it aloud at a staff meeting. Every sharing effort may be rewarded with a $20 bill or some such to applaud the effort. 

·         Begin every morning huddle and team meeting with a humorous or inspirational or current-event or historical-event one-minute reading with staff members rotating the privilege of sharing the writing they have chosen. 

·         Name one staff member as CE coordinator. She/he can maintain CE-hour records for the team; schedule in-office training sessions for systems such as material and personnel safety, emergency protocols, and verbiage used with patients; and alert the team to appropriate off-site seminars. 

Ideas to encourage CE are unlimited. In my experience, the staff that learns together grows together. CE promotes individuals’ skill growth, professional pride, and loyalty to the practice. And growth in those areas assures significant increases in productivity.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017


If your office is like many with which I have consulted, you receive numerous requests for monetary contributions or donations of toothbrushes, toothpaste, stickers, toys for children or, occasionally, even for the donation of dental services.  The people seeking donations and contributions are often patients or parents of patients, and it may create a touchy situation to simply respond, “No.”  Most of the projects for which they are soliciting funds are worth your support; however, your practice cannot meet every request.

What to do?  Answer: establish a Benevolent Fund (BF) in your office.  Decide an amount per year you can afford to give as monetary contributions or in the form of donated items.  Include that amount as a line item in the annual budget for the office.  It might be tracked on the monthly Profit and Loss Statement as a Marketing expense or as an Administrative cost.  Keep in mind that Marketing expenses typically are allotted 2% to 5% of net collections while Administrative costs may require 7% to 11% of net collections. 

Doctor, the second step to ease the burden of having to decide on-the-spot, at-the- moment whether or not to contribute when asked, is to choose a seasoned staff member to administer the Benevolent Fund.  Name a person familiar with your preferences for charitable projects, one who can tactfully refuse when a patient is insisting the office must make a donation to his/her pet charity.  When asked, you can direct the solicitor to the Administrator who knows the balance of funds available and can either make arrangements for the contribution/donation or tactfully explain funds are depleted for the year.

With a BF set up and a staff member in place to administer it, you have unobtrusively told the person requesting a contribution several positive things: (1) Your practice is a charitable one that sets money aside each year for donations.  (2) You, doctor, consider giving back to worthy projects in your community so important that you have designated a staff member to facilitate contributions.  (3) If budgeted funds are depleted for the year, the solicitor has no reason to just consider you too stingy to contribute to his/her project.  Funds have simply been spent.


Monday, March 6, 2017


In December 2016, the U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA) issued a regulation requiring dental offices across the U.S. to install amalgam separators. Specifically, dental offices are required to “remove mercury from waste water through relatively low-cost and readily available amalgam separators.”

Further, providers are prohibited from flushing down a drain waste amalgam caught by traps or filters. The third point in the regulation is cessation of chlorine-containing cleaners for chair-side traps and vacuum lines because such cleaners may cause dissolution of solid mercury waste.

Dental offices exempted from the new rule, which will be noted by an officially-issued number when it is published in the Federal Register, include: orthodontic, prosthodontic, periodontic, oral surgery, oral pathology, and oral radiology practices. Additionally, mobile dental units and dentists who do not place new amalgam restorations are exempt.

The American Dental Association has worked with the EPA for several years to write this federal regulation and has declared it is a “fair and reasonable way” for dentists to manage amalgam waste. Less than 1% of man-made mercury waste released into the environment comes from dentistry; however, the profession is required to eliminate even that small amount by the probable compliance date of the end of 2019. By then, amalgam separators must be installed in all dental offices not on the exempted list.

For more information, go to