Optimizing Oral Health Through Care and Education

Optimizing Oral Health Through Care and Education

Better Life

Dental experts are sought out for vital information and advice regarding oral care. On top of being knowledge keepers, however, it is essential they act as educators as well. Many hygienists and dentists know there is no “one size fits all approach” to patient education and therefore must develop a unique methodology. To ensure oral health is taken seriously outside of the office, dentists must consider every patient’s individual needs and learning style.

Simultaneously adapting your communication style and technical knowledge to address a variety of personalities with different oral health concerns can be immensely challenging.

That’s why we wrote this article. Instead of telling you “what” to say, we are going to focus on maximizing your communication skills.

On top of a dental expert, you’ll become a top-notch motivator and health care provider.

So let’s get to work!

Know Your Patient’s History

Before meeting with a patient, you should review their dental history. Assessing charts from previous visits and preparing to address any long-term problems can save you time when they arrive. Preparation is quickly noticed and can establish a heightened sense of trust between you and your patient.

Knowing some personal aspects, such as family or career details, also illustrates patient prioritization. Some dentists take the time to write brief notes on their patient’s hobbies and lifestyles. If you won’t see them again until their next recare visit, it’s not a bad idea.

Make a Good First Impression

First impressions are important. Strive to emit a warm, professional, genuine aura. One’s reputation as the world’s smartest dentist, who doubles as a comedian and professional athlete, ultimately means little if their primary concern isn’t the well-being of their patients. When getting started with a patient, get to know them. How is the family? How’s school or work? Dig in, showing genuine interest.

When possible, try to build off of details from previous conversations. Was Mr. Smith fawning about a new puppy the last time he visited? Ask him how Fido is doing, how big is that pup now?!

The Proper Approach to Knowledge Transfer

Every educational opportunity, to learn and to teach, should be approached with a sense of care and even a bit of caution. Being sensitive to your patient’s situation, be it health-oriented or personal, is vital in proper communication.

By putting yourself in their shoes, it’s nearly impossible to come off as condescending or inattentive. In more dire situations, don’t let an informative tone be confused with negativity. Throwing positive lingo into a serious conversation can motivate the patient to change oral habits or better understand the situation.

Of course, patients should always be informed when their health is severe or in danger. Still, starting with a positive outlook or compliment can help heighten the rational and influence of the upcoming discussion.

Education Requires Individualized Delivery

Do you have a script you follow with your patients? If so, toss it out. Every conversation with your patients should be organic and 100% tailored to the individual. Their healthcare needs and wants will be unique to their situation. In turn, your advice and communication style should mesh to fit theirs.

Encourage your patients to ask questions. Gently prod their knowledge in areas critical to their personal care. Eventually, you’ll gain insight into their oral comprehension and continuously reinforce to the patient how much you care.

Motivation Is Vital

Teachings become implemented in everyday life when information is paired with motivation. Simply telling patients what to do isn’t enough. As you talk to your patients, figure out what motivates them. While some want to avoid toothaches, others want to keep their bills low. Whatever their motivations are, appeal to them while sharing knowledge.

Sharing stories is another great motivator. If you helped a previous patient with a similar issue, confidently share their process. From the initial severity of a diagnosis to the healthy outcome, knowing someones shared an experience is an excellent motivator in bettering personal health.

Education is a Must & Requires Effort

Dental care experts are immensely powerful in their abilities to impact and better peoples lives. Education is as important an asset in helping patients as actual cleaning and care. Fact is, most patients won’t see a dentist more than twice a year. In between these visits, patients need to know how to properly care for their teeth. In conclusion, patient education is essential.

Oct 25, 2017 No Comments
What’s a paper plate worth?

What’s a paper plate worth?

Better Life

Looking for a simple way to inspire your team? See how this simple paper plate can transform how your team feels about themselves and each other. Learn how you can improve morale and add insight you didn’t have previously about the people around you. Take a peek at what we learned about this exercise at a recent ACT Dental event that transformed an entire room of several hundred strangers.

Oct 11, 2017 No Comments
It’s Over for Dentists…

It’s Over for Dentists…

Better Life

If you didn’t happen to see this recent development in dental technology, I wanted to go ahead and share it with all of you. Many people who watched this video are predicting the end for dentists and the ultimate commoditization of this great profession. Check it out:

When I was in Switzerland speaking to an amazing Study Club many years ago, a wonderful dentist by the name of Dr. Carlo Marinello shared an interesting concept with me – that dentists would eventually stop delivering treatment and some kind of machine would take over. In short, dentists would stop doing procedures altogether. He believed a robotic disruption like this would lead to more accurate and efficient dentistry. And in the longer term there would come a day in which digital technology takes over most of the treatment planning and delivery process as well.

I was horrified when he shared this thought with me. But in the same breath, he shared something else just as profound, “The world will always need a skilled dentist to supervise and care for people as a professional. The world will also need great leaders who know how to make a dental practice profitable as technology disrupts it.”

Spot on.

It’s hard not to notice the technological advancements in dentistry. Some of the greatest thought leaders and agents of change, like Dr. Christian Coachman of the DSD movement, are absolutely mind-blowing. Now we have the ability to virtually treatment plan an entire case and predict what the finished result will look like before we even begin. Many of us thought this would never be possible in our lifetime. With this technology, the predictability of great restorative dentistry is skyrocketing. On top of that, it’s also very cool to watch. How could anyone argue?

Dentistry has changed more in the last 5 years than it has in the last 50 years. You are probably wondering if that pace will continue, and ultimately, how it will affect your future as a dentist. If you listen to the wrong people, many will tell you the road ahead doesn’t look good. But I want you to keep in mind…

The End Has Always Been Near for Dentists

If you’ve been in this great profession as long as I have (which is more than 20 years), you have heard top influencers in dentistry consistently predict that the future for dentists is bleak and quite possibly…OVER.

This was before my time, but some of you might also remember the invention of fluoride. Fluoridation started as a research project in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1945. Later, the program expanded to New York state and then spread rapidly through the rest of the 1960’s. In the years that followed, many predicted dentists would soon be rendered useless. The research showed that fluoride significantly reduced cavities thus limiting the occurrence of dental disease. Of course, deductive reasoning would help us understand that the global need for dentists would just slowly evaporate. However, at the same time, sugar consumption in the United States went up by 700%, and so in the end, the dental profession remained entirely relevant.

Even Some of the Leaders of Dentistry Predicted it Was Over

I remember going to seminars more than 20 years ago and some of the greatest minds in dentistry (who are still out speaking today) were predicting that PPOs would completely disappear along with fee-for-service. That never happened. I wonder why?

Dentistry is Number One… Again!

In the middle of all these predictions, the dental profession has consistently risen to the top as one of the best careers in the United States. And I’m not just talking about the best careers in healthcare, but relative to any possible job you could hold the United States. It has been consistently ranked in the top 10 for the past several years and in 2017, the NUMBER ONE job you could have in the United States was General Dentist. Being an Orthodontist ranked #5 and being an Oral Surgeon ranked #9. Think about those statistics, three of the TOP 10 jobs you can hold in United States today are in dentistry. Sounds like a profession that’s thriving to me.

If you examine the data even further you’ll find some amazing and even shocking details. Dentistry has a .1% unemployment rate, which means if you’re a dentist, and you can’t find a job, you have major issues. The need for professionals to examine our teeth, fill and – gulp – refill our cavities isn’t fading. And because more people want cosmetic treatments like teeth whitening to attain that pearly smile, the demand for dentists is growing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment growth of 18 percent between 2014 and 2024, with 23,300 new openings. A comfortable salary, low unemployment rate, and appealing work-life balance means dentistry will remain at the top of the best jobs list for years to come.

Dentists are Also Extremely Stable Business Owners

Dentists outside the 5 year window of new ownership have widely established themselves as very stable business operators in the United States. Established dentists have a 0.5% failure rate on their dental lending notes – unheard of in any sector. The latest published numbers also indicate NEW DENTISTS have a lending note failure rate of just 2.1% during their first five years of ownership, whether purchasing an existing practice or starting from scratch. When compared with other business start-ups that experience a failure TEN TIMES greater than dentists, this is even more astounding. On top of all that, dentistry is now ranked the fifth most profitable industry in the United States. As the data is clearly shows, dentistry is a fulfilling, thriving, stable, and profitable business no matter what changes come our way.

Fear Sells

This wonderful profession that we all enjoy so much is constantly barraged with a thread that taints its future. That thread is fear. What you have to understand is, FEAR SELLS. Fear motivates people. Fear gets people to take action when they might not want to.

There’s no greater evidence of this than when people hypothesize about the influence of DSOs and mid-level providers in the industry and how they will impact the future of private care dentistry. Private care dentists will always be busy. Even some of the top minds in the DSO world agree there will always be a market for the private care dentist. Dr. Rick Workman, the CEO of Heartland Dental (arguably the top person in the space) said in a recent Dentaltown article, “It is my belief that half of all dentists will be affiliated with a DSO-supported practice – the companies often mislabeled as “corporate” dentistry. If that belief does come true, I do not think the cause will be dental support organizations (DSOs) “taking over” private practices to gain control over the dental industry. My belief is that DSOs simply recognize the current face(s) of dentistry and are responding to the realities of the marketplace. I think DSOs are a valuable model for modern times.”

Think about this. It’s 2017 and Dr. Workman doesn’t expect his prediction to reach its fulfillment until 2037. What should the rest of us do? Quit? Or better yet, do you love being in the 50th percentile? The answer is NO. And if you are reading this my guess is that you’re not subscribing to the bottom or the middle. Your efforts are focused on being in the top 10% of your profession.

Heck, we expect our kids to aim higher than being just average don’t we? Why should we expect any less from ourselves.

Dentistry (or any Quality Business for that Matter) is about People and Experience

The bottom line is dentistry will always be about PEOPLE. It will always be a business that serves people. While no one person can predict exactly how technology will influence the future of dentistry, one thing is for sure, building a business requires that you create value for other humans. Building a thriving dental practice that asks patients to reach into their pockets and invest their discretionary income on dentistry requires an exceptional focus people skills and customer experience.

No matter what technology holds for the future, dentists will be busy and profitable for as long as you can imagine. There will ALWAYS be a need for a great dentist. As a matter of fact, this need will only INCREASE. One of the biggest challenges this world has is the aging population. By the year 2050, for the first time in history, seniors older than 60 will outnumber children younger than 15. My prediction is that they will all have to eat. And when they can’t, they will have to find a dentist. Rest assured, your office will continue to be very busy.

Dentists will continue to thrive and make positive influences on people’s lives no matter what technology introduces to this great profession. Keep in mind that any business, even yours, is about finding and growing great people and giving them an amazing experience before we better serve them with technology.

So the next time you see a huge disruption in dentistry and hear someone say it’s over for dentists just say to yourself – “No, it’s not…GAME ON!”

You’ll be happy you did.

Feeling overwhelmed and not so optimistic about your future as a dentist? That’s a huge problem. Your thinking has to be clear about your business and how it impacts everyone it serves. If you’re struggling with this, we can already imagine things are not well in your practice. You have the opportunity to change this. Feel free to give us a call, we are always here to help. Nothing gives the ACT Dental Team greater satisfaction than seeing an amazing dentist realize their potential, improve their practice and have a better life. Remember you only get one shot at this life. If you do it right…it’s all you need. Click here to schedule a completely confidential consultation.

Oct 4, 2017 No Comments

Is the Stress of Dentistry Affecting Your “Why?”

Better Life


Open a closet or storage cabinet in the Behrendt home, and an old photo album is bound to fall out. We have taken a zillion photos over the years! Though the world has gone totally digital, and nowadays our pictures are stored neatly in a “cloud”…I love opening an old photo album every now and then. The hundreds of crazy, funny family pictures crammed into the torn and fading pages remind me why I do what I do.

I call this my “why” time. What do your photos reveal? When you look back through old pictures, have you spend enough time on your “why?”

Understandably your practice is a busy place, and we all want a full schedule. With that in mind, I encourage you to give thought to how much “why” time your team generally enjoys, as compared to the amount of hours spent earning it. Is your balance off?

In this video, see why it’s so important to strike a healthy balance between your professional and personal lives. You’ll also see a scheduling strategy to help you create more “why” time, and solve one problem that might be keeping you late!

Nov 1, 2016 5 Comments

Have You Earned Your Shower?

Better Life


There’s a difference between taking a shower and earning one. Try this. Next week when you go back to work and you get up in the morning and you’re getting ready, ask yourself when you’re in the shower and that hot waters running off your back. This is what I do in the shower. I cross my arms like this and fill up the resevoir. (SNORING SOUND) It’s my thinking chamber, right? That’s where I think. And my wife we’ll come up and she’s like “What are you doing?”
I go, “I’m thinking!”

Well when that water’s running off your back, ask yourself this question, “Am I earning this, or did I take it?” Because there is a significant difference. When you get up and go to the gym, and man that hurts right? My pillow talks to me at 5 o’clock in the morning, it says, “Come back to bed. I’ll take care of you… just lay right here.” I have one of those pillows you could suffocate in, right?
It’s all fluffy. It’s hard, but when you go, and you get in that shower, and you’ve earned it, it feels fantastic, right? That is the hardest part of my day between 5 and 7am, right? I can deal with anything. When I don’t get it, I’m miserable. It follows me. My wife runs with her girlfriends on Saturday mornings. And this is true, like that alarm will go off, and I’ll do one of these: I’ll like push her out of bed, right? Because I know if she goes and runs with her girlfriends, and she comes back with her cup of Starbucks, at 9:30 and I got pancake batter all over the kitchen and it’s a mess, I look at the kids and I go, “It’s gonna be a good day!” Right? Because Mama got it. Right? She got it for herself.

And this is the thing: You all have an hour to give to yourself. The greatest single gift you could give anybody in the world is a better you. Write that one down. The greatest gift you could ever give is not a material thing…it’s a better you. When you bring a better you to the people around you, it’s amazing. There’s no greater gift you could give to the people you love…a better you!

Try this. Raise your hands with me. I want you to do this exercise. Say, “I promise. If I am the kind of person who says I can’t find an hour a day to take care of myself, then I am going to make a commitment…to stop lying to myself.” Because that is a lie! You know you have more to give when you take that hour. Find that hour. Find it. It’ll give you more life. So try to earn your shower. There’s a Dentist I work with in North Dakota…she’s awesome. I gave her this and she sent this back to me. Look at this…she puts this on her shower door, and look at it, she’s got like a cool shower. She’s got like shower heads coming out here, and I thought that’s a pretty col shower, right? And she said “you know what? I thought about transitioning. I thought about getting out of Dentistry, but you know what? I look at this every day…I don’t want to quit! Why would I quit? I put all these years in this profession? NOW I feel better…she looks better…her skin looks better…so make sure you’re earning it instead of taking it.

Hey, let’s take this one step farther because I’ve got a great way to get all of these systems in one place for a great price with some goodies added in. At our August ACTivate seminar, I’ll cover it all…You guys made it…From scheduling, to practice finances, to smoothing out insurance and administrative processes, and so much more.

Woman: I think it’s life-changing. On a professional level, it’s life-changing for your office.

Man 1: Everything that they presented were things that could be taken home and implemented immediately.

Man 2: Just the energy level is through the roof.

Kirk: Ah, I love this. I love you. You’re awesome. You’re fantastic. You’re great…We’ve discovered these two days of training are also an amazing team building opportunity. So we offer ACTivate tickets at a rock bottom price for additional team members. And that’s not all. Sign up now and I’ll send you all of my lectures DVDs totally free. Those cost $800 on our website, but they’ll come to you free as my thanks for registering.

Man 2: It really is a no-brainer. It’s just one of the best things you can do.

Kirk: So join us here in our state-of-the-art training facility in Kansas City on August 25th and 26th. Get your team on track and get ready to ACTivate.

Jun 21, 2016 1 Comment

Score Big with Systems

Better Life

Download the Critical Systems Checklist here!! Download Now

Check out ACTivate Dental Seminars

Kirk: Hey, Kirk here and I’m in a bowling alley. You might be wondering why, but there’s some really amazing stuff going on here. There’s 32 lanes in this bowling alley and can you imagine setting up all these pins?

Announcer: Well, think about doing this night and day for dozens of bowlers at once.

Kirk: I can’t.

Announcer: That’s exactly what the famous AMF Automatic Pin Spotter does quickly and accurately.

Kirk: It was unbelievable. The systems set up the pins by themselves.

Announcer: Have you noticed how fast the ball is returned to him and he’s ready to bowl again?

Kirk: This little film is funny because people were amazed that the ball would get sent back on its own and the pins would be set up automatically. Now we take it for granted because it’s a system that happens all the time. And it allows businesses to become productive, profitable, and very predictable, which is ultimately what dentists need more than anything, high levels of predictability. And the only way to do that is through systems design. You know what’s right across the street from this bowling alley? A Chipotle.

Worker: You guys hungry?

Kirk: Nationally Chipotle does 97,000 pounds of avocados per day. You know how many employees ever come to work here and say, “How are we going to make the guacamole today?” Zero. You know why? Because the system drives the business. No matter who does it, it’s done the same way every time. So after I finish my lunch, you know what I’m gonna do? I’m going to walk a few steps over there to one of my favorite Starbucks and grab a post-lunch drink.

You know what I love about this great company? Eighty-seven thousand different possible combinations to how one of these drinks is made. It’s called predictability. Now you might ask yourself, what’s the secret? Well, the secret isn’t so secret. It’s on the back of the cup. It’s called the system. The system creates high levels of predictability. So whatever you do, find the system so that you can ultimately create higher levels of predictability. Whether it be this cup of coffee, that guacamole, your dental practice, or this bowling alley, the system runs the business.

Jun 10, 2016 No Comments