Monday, December 9, 2019


Morale in the workplace is an often under-recognized factor in the success of any business. When morale is high:
  • Patient care and customer service improve dramatically
  • Workflow is smoother
  • Production increases
  • Loyalty and cooperation among team members is stronger
  • Every workday is more enjoyable, and, perhaps most importantly,
  • Profit increases!
As we have all experienced at one time or another, low morale among team members produces the opposite effects.

Consider the following list of ideas to stoke morale in your office. Involve your team members in these efforts and enjoy the benefits of improved morale among your entire staff.

18 Ways to Boost Morale in Your Office
  1. Create a team-authored mission statement for the practice. Frame and hang it in the office, visible daily to staff and to patients.
  2. Provide proper orientation and training for new team members. Allow senior auxiliaries to participate in the orientation and training.
  3. Provide and encourage continuing education and ongoing training for long-term staff members. Display some of their certificates, diplomas, and awards in the office and compliment them when patients are present.
  4. Apply the same personnel policies, evaluations, and open communication for all staff members.
  5. Schedule regular one-on-one discussions with each team member (at least two times per year), covering job performance, growth opportunities, and skill development.
  6. Start each work day with a morning huddle to review patients and treatment scheduled. Rotate leadership of huddles among team members. Conclude with a positive thought for the day or a short prayer.
  7. Schedule monthly area meetings in which business team members meet together while clinical team members do the same. Each group will benefit from focusing on the specifics of their work area.
  8. Schedule monthly team meetings with planned agendas, and include all full-time and part-time team members. Follow up on suggestions, changes, and activities discussed whether or not implemented. Act promptly on feasible ideas so that the team observes the dentist's responsiveness.
  9. Provide a supply of simple stickers that say "I appreciate you!" to be exchanged among coworkers when one is particularly grateful for help or attention given by a team member. Also, patients will be impressed by the display of congeniality and cooperation among your staff members.
  10. Provide a supply of "Appreciation-Gram" forms so one team member can thank another in writing and post the message on the office bulletin board.
  11. Plan for and enjoy staff and doctor appreciation days. Or hours. Or special events. Remember that expression of appreciation is a two-way phenomenon—doctor to staff and staff to doctor.
  12. Schedule patient appreciation celebrations with the team as hosts/hostesses.
  13. Display staff photos, plaques, certificates and awards in an area of the office were patients can also see them.
  14. Undertake charity dental projects, chosen by team members in rotation. Involve everyone on staff and make certain the event is noted by local media and in office social media postings.
  15. Have an annual group photograph made by a professional photographer to display in the office and to print on notes, cards, and pamphlets distributed to patients and community-wide. Invite staff to sit for individual portraits as well.
  16. Keep an office scrapbook maintained by one interested team member. Pleasant memories enrich morale.
  17. Plan and budget for fun times together—birthday celebrations, family picnics, shared salad bar lunches, holiday celebrations, etc. A “We Care” team can plan and coordinate such events.
  18. Name a We Care Team of two or three to plan, organize, and facilitate events like those mentioned above. The dentist can supply the money for events within the limits of the office budget. Participation on this team can rotate among staff.
Be sure to check out our Free Resources for Your Practice for additional insights, information, and practice management tips.

Monday, December 2, 2019



From its humble beginnings as a one-day program in Cleveland, Ohio on February 3, 1941, National Children's Dental Health Month (NCDHM) has grown to a month-long event focusing nationwide attention on the oral health of children. In 1981, the American Dental Association named February as NCDHM, encouraging dentists, other health care providers, educators, teachers, legislators, and others to alert children and their caregivers to the importance of oral health, and to emphasize preventive measures to help children keep their teeth for their entire lifetime.

A cornerstone of NCDHM is Give Kids a Smile Day (GKASD), a nationwide initiative that allows dental offices a practical way to participate in the effort to keep kids free of dental disease through hands-on dental treatment and preventive education. Tooth decay is the Number 1 chronic disease affecting children in the U.S. Left untreated, tooth decay can cause a variety of health problems into adulthood. GKASD and NCDHM together help children break the dental disease cycle.

It is vitally important to support the programs that serve children in your area with quality oral health care and preventive education, and now is the time to plan how you and your team will participate in GKASD and NCDHM in your community.

The NCDHM campaign slogan for 2020 is Fluoride in water prevents cavities! Get it from the tap! Materials to support community programs are available from the ADA, including a 12" by 18" poster with English on the front and Spanish on the back, activity sheets for children, a planning guide, publicity suggestions, and resources to help you publicize your oral health messages, activities, and events.

So join the effort to make dental disease in children a thing of the past.

And be sure to check out our Free Resources for Your Practice for additional insights, information, and practice management tips.

Monday, November 25, 2019



During my years as a practice management consultant, I often heard dentists who had been in practice 12 to 15 years admit that the shine was fading, or even gone, from their enjoyment of practicing dentistry. The daily routine had grown stale and enthusiasm had waned. And, if this was the case for the dentist, it's a sure bet the staff were feeling the same.

If you, Doctor, are feeling the weight of same-ol', same-ol', day-in, day-out in your office, consider using the exercise below to get input from your team to help recapture the excitement and enjoyment you felt when you first began practice.

Introduce the effort by assuring staff that this is an opportunity for them to suggest changes in many aspects of the practice, new ways that they think would benefit everyone—the team, the patients, and the dentist(s).

Encourage them to use their imagination and to think outside the box in this What If... exercise:

What if we could start a new dental practice?

Only with your thoughtful input can we plan for practice enhancements. Please be candid in your replies. Only Dr. _____________ and our practice administrator will know who submitted which suggestions. All information will be shared anonymously. Please write your responses on a separate sheet of paper attached to this form.

Please submit your responses to our practice administrator by _____________ (date).

Thank you!


Let’s pretend: you have worked in this practice for years, but Dr. Good will retire within a year. An associate will move to the senior dentist's role, and you've agreed to work with him in the same role you've held with Dr. Good.
Unclutter your mind. Discard all thoughts of: We must do it that way...We've never done that before...He won't let me...It won't work...I can't...We've always...He's always...Our team is not allowed...Etc.
Remember, we are thinking about this as a new practice with a new dentist as leader. You will be part of a new team, transforming the practice to exceed the expectations of today's patients.
  • List changes necessary to the building including parking, landscaping, and signage, dental equipment, front desk area or function, computer system and use, X-ray equipment, laboratory, sterilization, cabinetry or counter space, instruments, printed or digital paperwork, etc., that would improve the office flow and service to patients.
  • Describe your area of responsibility (your job) as you would choose it to be in the new practice. Write an ideal job description/task list for yourself as you begin work in this new practice. What do you want your job to include? List your skills/strengths and how you think they can contribute to the new setting. List skills you would like to strengthen or upgrade or cross-training that would benefit you professionally.
  • What has been the most critical communication problem or lack in Dr. Good's practice? How are you going to help fix that problem before it affects the new practice?
  • How do you think the new practice should function? Include your ideas about the dentist's interaction with staff and with patients, team meetings, teamwork including fun activities and charity dentistry, morale or the lack thereof, staff continuing education and advanced training, scheduling and patient flow, patient education about oral health, practice marketing, and so on.
Caution: Before undertaking such a challenging activity, make certain you, Doctor, can accept team input non-defensively. Can you hear critique of the practice and value the positive effects changes could have? Are you willing to spend the money necessary to make upgrades to the building, equipment, furnishings, and supplies that will make a positive difference in the office?
If your answer is yes, then go for it; if no, then accept the same-ol', same-ol' as the norm.

Monday, November 18, 2019



Every dental office must keep Dental Unit Water Lines lines clean and free of colonized bacteria to assure a safe environment for patients and all who work there. DUWLs can contain biofilm, a bacteria colonization that puts patients, particularly the very young, elderly, or immunocompromised, at risk. Additionally, team members repeatedly exposed to contaminated water from the lines in your office may be put at risk.

The microorganisms most likely to form in waterlines and cause diseases are Legionella, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and nontuberculous Mycobacterium. These bacteria and deposits like hard water scale, salts and other minerals multiply inside small-diameter water tubing where low flow rates and periods of stagnation create the perfect environment for them to flourish.

Two federal regulations emphasize the importance of using the correct cleaning and disinfecting agents and processes as part of a regular disinfecting routine practiced in every dental office:
  • The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) advises that any device to be used in a patient's mouth should first be connected to a DUWL and flushed for at least 20 seconds before use. Does the water in your waterlines clean or contaminate the instrument you are about to put into your patient's mouth?
  • The EPA (Environment Protection Agency) sets specifications for drinking water of less than 500 colony forming units per milliliter of heterotrophic water bacteria (CFU/mL HPC). To make certain water in your office meets this standard, your staff should be trained to use a water testing kit or your practice should employ the services of a mail-in water testing service.
There are a number of excellent disinfecting agents available that can remove waterline buildup without damaging equipment or reducing suction. Contact your dental unit manufacturer for recommendations of the most effective brands and methods for maintaining safe water in your DUWLs.

Be sure to check out our Free Resources for Your Practice for additional insights, information, and practice management tips.

Monday, November 11, 2019


Disorganized, cluttered clinical space is not only stressful for the dentist and staff, it can actually cause patients to seek care elsewhere. In extreme cases, it can also present a serious health or safety hazard.

Consider the following methods of improving efficiency and appearance through better organization in the clinical area:
  • List all treatment procedures you offer and assign a color to each.
  • Select a tub of each color to hold specific materials used for that procedure. All tubs and materials can be stored in the central sterilization area and transported to an operatory when needed. When treatment is complete, the tub can be returned to central sterilization for cleaning, restocking, and storage.
  • Use the same color bur blocks, identification rings, and instrument cassettes to mark procedure-specific instruments and burs.
  • Keep central sterilization clutter-free, organized by color, with materials for each procedure stored together to assure quick, efficient restocking.
  • Individual treatment rooms should be kept uncluttered and uncontaminated by storing disposables (paper products, gloves, chair drapes, cotton supplies, etc.) in closed cabinets.
  • Cover chairs, computers and other non-treatment equipment with transparent plastic covers/drapes, changed between patients.
  • And don’t forget hallways—they must remain clear of boxes, equipment, cords or other obstacles.
A place for everything and everything in its place might sound like your great-grandmother's advice, but it still holds true. If your clinical area needs improved organization, discuss the inefficiencies and deficits during a team meeting.

Seek staff members' opinions, critique, and suggestions; designate the funds necessary to purchase proper storage units, organizational tools and supplies; assign tasks to individuals; and get on with it.
The improved efficiency, decreased stress, and smoother operation will add to your productivity, patients' satisfaction, and your own sense of maintaining a top-notch office.

Be sure to check out our Free Resources for Your Practice for additional insights, information, and practice management tips.