As dentists, we spend a lot of time reeducating our patients. They are inundated with myths about dental health, and convincing patients they are wrong can be a real challenge. Take the old fluoride myth, for instance. How many times have you had to persuade anxious parents that a fluoride treatment will actually benefit their children? As a dentist mentor, I also spend a lot of time busting myths. In my case, however, I’m often reeducating dentists. Although my clients are fully informed about good dental care and hygiene, they have fallen prey to myths about management, leadership, and practice growth. It is only after they learn to separate myth from reality that they can begin to enjoy true professional satisfaction.
Take this quiz to see how well you can identify dental fact and fiction.
- Truth or Myth: You should market for all demographics and procedures.
- Truth or Myth: You should have a financial plan in place, beginning in the early stages of your career.
- Truth or Myth: The harder you work, the more your practice will succeed.
- Truth or Myth: Trusting your intuition is never a practical business choice.
- Truth or Myth: It’s better to be short-staffed than to hire a less than ideal employee.
- Truth or Myth: Patients are more concerned about your practice technology than your chairside manner.
Check Your Answers
- Myth: Like any business practitioner, you should identify your primary client base. Believe it or not, you have a say over the patients you treat and the procedures you perform. Ask yourself, “Who do I enjoy treating? What type of procedures am I good at? Where does my passion truly lie?” If you love kids, tailor your marketing to appeal to young parents. If cosmetic dentistry is your favorite, create a marketing campaign that will attract a young and affluent demographic.
- Truth: All too often, dentists wait until the middle (or the last third) of their careers to develop a business plan. Work with a CPA or a CFP who can guide you in solid business practices. Like insurance, a business plan will protect you in the event of an unforeseen catastrophe. It will also give you the freedom to be generous with your time and resources, helping needy patients and contributing to the wellbeing of your community.
- Myth: Hard work is essential, true. However, working at a breakneck pace and putting in 60+ hours a week will only lead to burn out. For true practice success, you should find a good work/life balance. Dedicate yourself to your practice and to improving as a dentist. At the same time, understand that you must take care of your own physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing.
- Myth: Here’s one of the biggest secrets of dentistry: your intuition is usually right. In all likelihood, you trust your hunches when it comes to diagnoses and treatment. It has probably served you in good stead. Follow your instincts in the same way when it comes to practical business matters. In my experience, it will rarely steer you wrong.
- Truth: It is tempting to hire the first interviewee who walks in the door, provided he or she displays a modicum of competence. Here’s where trusting your instincts really comes into play. If there is anything that raises a red flag, do not hire that individual. Being temporarily shorthanded will be a headache, but being saddled with an undesirable team member can be debilitating.
- Myth: If you ask patients what they most look for in a dentist, they will invariably answer that they want someone who listens. Although it is good to have technology that will legitimately help your patients, it is better to invest in communication courses than the latest bells and whistles.