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The Ultimate Productivity Tool

May 11, 2015

Filed under: Art of the Examination — Tags: , — Barry @ 10:00 PM



Most dentists are always on the lookout for ways to increase their productivity.  Today’s marketplace is overloaded with new tools to make the dentist more efficient.  An alternative to efficiency, and one I have been obsessed with since reading Covey’s 7 Habits twenty five years ago, is effectiveness.

Becoming more effective trumps efficiency everyday, and it doesn’t require a huge investment in technology.  Efficiency is the language of hardware, machines and computers, but effectiveness has its own language…the language of human interaction.

Years ago practice management people taught dentists to “fill their chairs” with warm bodies.  Ergonomics, the study of people’s efficiency in their work environments was all the rage.  I was there when four-handed dentistry was actually a fresh concept.

I started in dentistry when most of my colleagues were still standing.  Ergonomics in dentistry helped dentists become more productive while staying pain-free (their back pain, not dental pain).

Today, we have all kinds of gadgets and devices that promise to make our work easier, but I’m not sure if it will make us more productive.  Production is a function of effectiveness.

That is why I placed so much emphasis on the complete examination…because it is still, when done correctly, the most efficient way to create effectiveness in a dental practice.

Yes…the complete examination is and always has been the Ultimate Productivity Tool available to a dentist…and it’s so cost efficient.

For many dentists it sounds counter-intuitive to spend so much time doing a complete examination when they could be producing real dentistry.  I agree that the exam is not very productive, but it gives the dentist the capability to produce so much more dentistry.

How would you like to spend every morning doing implants, crowns and veneers?

Not only is that dentistry more effective for the dentist and the patient but it is meaningful as well, and when a dentist spends time doing meaningful work…well that’s just what happy dentists do.

So what is the rationale for doing the complete examination?

  • It allows the dentist to slow down and create a trusting relationship.
  • It allows the dentist to think…to take the time to make the most rational decisions about patient treatment and care.
  • It is sacred time, so that it can’t be interrupted with distractions, allowing for more focus.
  • The dentist preserves his or her mental energy and can preserve energy for when it’s most needed.
  • The exam helps the dentist organize and align the practice so everyone knows exactly what their role is at all times.

I could go on and on…I actually have in my book The Art of the Examination, because it is an art.  With practice this art becomes the Ultimate Productivity Tool.  I felt I needed to write this blog post to remind dentists of the importance of the comprehensive exam in this rapidly changing world of dentistry.  This will never change.


Even a Monkey Could Do It

June 4, 2013



It can be difficult for patients to choose a dentist these days.  The Internet is filled with photographs of beautiful dentistry.  Dentists and technicians share their best work with the world online.

Patients take a look at the photos and judge the quality of the dentist, and the practice by the quality of the photos.

But as they say, “the menu is not the food.”

In a new book, The Art of Thinking Clearly, author Rolf Dobelli discusses 99 ways that we make mistakes by not thinking clearly.  Dobelli does a great job of using entertaining examples of how we think about things that  lead us to making poor decisions.

One such bias, he calls the outcome bias warns people to never judge a decision by its outcome.

Imagine there was a sample group of 1000 monkeys, and you asked them to speculate on picking stocks by throwing darts at the Wall Street Journal.  What happens?  After one week, half of the monkeys show a profit and another half show a loss.

We carry on the experiment until we eliminate all of the monkeys but one.  You know how that works, you’ve seen reality TV.

At the end…the remaining monkey is next year’s Warren Buffet (take a look at the photo).  The media is all over him.  He becomes a guru.  The big guy on Wall Street.

The reason this happens is that we tend to evaluate decisions based on the result rather than the decision making process.  Don’t laugh, we see this all the time on Wall Street.  The analyst that predicted the crash becomes the next guru.

It happens in dentistry as well.  We see these gorgeous photos and believe the dentist is Picasso rather than asking how he got there.  What was the process…because process is what breeds consistency.

Dentistry has evolved to promote this type of thinking.  The cosmetic revolution, advertising and the Internet have allowed snapshots to sway patients to make decisions.

There was a time when patients chose dentists for their wisdom and judgement…two traits that don’t seem to be valued these days.

Process is the key.  In choosing a professional the patient should be more interested in the process the dentist used to get the result rather than the result itself.  All dental practices are based on some philosophical principles that lead to consistent behavior that produces outstanding results consistently.

As a practicing dentist, a teacher/coach and a lab owner, I am convinced that the dentists who are most successful are the ones who create and execute a process.  Anyone can do a beautiful case occasionally.  My advice: commit to an examination, diagnosis and treatment planning process.

That is the key to success.


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Relationship-Based Dentistry Brings Satisfaction.

April 8, 2012

A new patient waited for me to do her examination.  She held a book in her hands.  When I entered the room, the first question I asked was, “What are you reading?”  She told me, and so began my preclinical interview.  I learned she was an avid reader and she was recently diagnosed with diabetes.  Audrey H. became my patient.  I completed her dentistry twenty five years ago.

Audrey never missed a dental appointment.  She always carried a book with her, and we traded reading lists.  My first questions to her were always, “What are you reading and how is your blood sugar.”

Through the years she slowly lost her ability to read.  First she went to Large-print, and then to audiobooks.  She had a difficult time controlling her blood sugar and eventually had to go on dialysis.  Through all of this, she never missed an appointment.  Audrey couldn’t drive after a while so she would take a taxi to her appointments.

Eventually she went to an assisted living facility.

She still came for her hygiene appointments. (more…)

TAO the Book Installment 10 – What patients are looking for

August 15, 2010

Filed under: TAO - The Book — Tags: , , , , — Barry @ 10:28 PM


I am a baby boomer. I am part of the generation that was born between 1946 and 1964.  Baby boomers have the reputation for being quite independent.  There are 77 million baby boomers in this country, and they have driven the marketplace since they were born.  My practice has seen this over the years.

I began practicing in the early seventies when dental insurance became popular. I have seen insurance become a major force in the dental community, and I have witnessed its relative irrelevancy.  I have seen the coming and goings of closed panels, department store clinics and DMOs.  I have been part of the cosmetic revolution.

I feel that the key to success in today’s marketplace will be to pay attention to the “longevity” factor. The most important thing (more…)

One Thing that Will Give Your Exam Process a Quantum Leap

April 28, 2010

Filed under: Art of the Examination — Tags: , , — Barry @ 2:12 PM

I have done a lot of examinations in my career.  Readers who are familiar with my book, The Art of the Examination, know how much stock I place in the examination process.  As the years go by I only become more firm in my admonition about the importance of a comprehensive examination.  I know what it has done for my practice and career, and I know what it can do to practices when it is not included in the daily management.
As the owner of Niche Dental Studio, I get to (more…)

The TAO – Introduction (1)

February 24, 2010


“Success follows doing what you want to do. 
There is no other way to be successful.”

––Malcolm Forbes

In March 2002, I self-published my book, The Art of the Examination. Drawing on my 30 years of experience as a dentist, I told the story of how I developed my philosophy of practice, how important that foundation was to my everyday work, and how the initial patient examination could allow patients and staff to understand your values, share in them, and benefit from them.
Since the publication of that book, I have been asked by many dentists to provide them with a more information about the examination process.  They told me that the book should be required reading in every dental school.   The TAO of Dentistry is (more…)