Guide your staff more effectively — and vice-versa.


BY DR. LISA KNOWLES, Intentional Dental, as featured in Incisal Edge

“IF YOU HOLD the suction this way, you’d help retract the cheek better,” I coached my dental assistant one afternoon.

“I can’t put my fingers that way,” she insisted. “It never works for me.”

And so we struggled our way through the appointment. I couldn’t see a thing, and she kept sucking up the patient’s cheek.

Being a coach is one of the most challenging aspects of dentistry. Yet we often find ourselves in that position right after graduation. Sometimes we’re simultaneously coached by senior team members while coaching entry-level staff. The first lesson in coaching is to look inward and ask, “Am I coachable?” This will help you establish protocols for such moments with others — and as such, here are a few rules I try to apply to dental coaching in my practice.

Rule #1: Care enough to challenge your team. Talk with them about their mistakes, and praise their positives. Not providing feedback demonstrates a fear of confrontation or a lack of concern for your team’s development. If the leader doesn’t care, why should anyone else?

Rule #2: Don’t assume someone else will provide feedback, or that it’s outside your purview. A formal annual review isn’t enough; feedback should come weekly, at a minimum.

Rule #3: Just do it. That’s only way to get better at this critical skill. You won’t be perfect; I could kick myself for some of the things I’ve said to my staff. To this day, it’s a work in progress — and it does get easier.

Rule #4: Build a good leadership reference library. It’ll be invaluable when you’re dealing with human-resources issues. I read as much about leadership as I do about clinical dentistry; you need many perspectives to understand how others think and are likely to react.

Rule #5: Make coaching fun for you, too. Create that win-win situation in which you get to revel in others’ progress and your staff can move along the development continuum that suits them best.

Rule #6: Forgive. Nothing wrecks team cohesion faster than the inability to forgive. Nurse your patients, not your grudges.

Rule #7: Be open to feedback from everyone. It’s tough for a doctor (for fear of being challenged) to offer feedback to the staff, and even more difficult for the staff (for fear of being fired) to give feedback to the doctor. Don’t let that kind of fear rule your practice.

My dental assistant, it turned out, was right: She really couldn’t place her fingers the way I suggested. So we coached each other through the process. At root, dental coaching is about communicating well. It’ll never be perfect, but the faster a team can move in and out of conflicts, the better the patient outcomes — and the more satisfying the work environment.


Dr. Lisa Knowles has practiced for 16 years. She founded IntentionalDental
Consulting ( to help dentists achieve greater peace in their practices. She blogs regularly at

There’s a first for everything.


This year at the largest dental meeting in the U.S., two inaugural events will take place: the First Annual Global Orthodontic Conference, and the First International Oral Cancer Symposium.

During the Greater New York Dental Meeting at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, general practitioners and orthodontists will enjoy five full days of seminars and workshops given by notable orthodontic speakers.

On Saturday, the first International Oral Cancer Symposium, entitled “The Science and Practice of Treating Head and Neck Cancer,” will provide a comprehensive overview of the current surgical and medical management of oral and oropharyngeal cancer patients. Sponsored by the Benco Family Foundation, and members of the dental community, the all-day event will feature diagnostic criteria, rehabilitative medicine and guidelines for oral cancer management during discussions by leading experts in Otolaryngology, Pathology, Craniofacial Surgery, Oncology and Maxillofacial Prosthetics.

Learn how you can still attend the November 27 – December 2 meeting sponsored by Second District & New York County Dental Societies:


Dentistry: Moms rule your practice health.


By Lisa Philp, RDH, President of Transitions Group North America

There is a great power in fully acknowledging the influence that moms have on their family, friends, community and society about brand, products, services and health care.

Lisa Philp, RDH, President of Transitions Group North America

Lisa Philp, RDH, President of Transitions Group North America

According to the U.S. Dept. of Labor, women make approximately 90% of health care decisions for their families and 80% of women go online for health care information.

North America is comprised of 93 million mothers of all ages and life stages.  Forty million of those mothers have children under the age of 18 years old.  This translates to 42% of all Canadian mothers and 43% of all American mothers who are an average age of 36 years old and are shown to be a major force in the household and family decisions about healthcare.

Moms account for 44% of the total of women’s market spending:

  • 55% of spending on consumer electronics.
  • 51% of spending on food.
  • 49% of spending on health & beauty aids.
  • 48% of spending on home furnishings.
  • 47% of spending on clothing.

Word of mouth works best for moms, with 64% who will ask other mothers for advice before they purchase a new product or service and consider other moms the most credible experts when they have questions.

Lisa Philp is the President for Transitions Group North America and may be contacted at or


(Beyond Pink, Jack Morton Worldwide, 2012)

Source: Current Population Survey, Bureau of Census for the Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Keller Fay study, September 2010

http://Searcher Moms: A Search Behavior and User Study, DoubleClick,

Dreaming of NYC in spring? Incisal Edge #40Under40 can make it a reality.

2015 Incisal Edge 40 Under 40 honorees, cover models one and all.

Not sure what to wear? Creative Style Director for Forbes Media Joseph DeAcetis @JosephDeAcetis never has that problem.

Forbes Style Director Joseph DeAcetis

Forbes Style Director Joseph DeAcetis

When he’s not styling celebrities from Justin Bieber and Richard Branson to Cindy Crawford and Elon Musk, or sharing his insights at Fashion Week in London, Milan or Berlin, Joseph DeAcetis spends two spring days in NYC with America’s best young dentists — the Incisal Edge 40 Under 40 (Shown, Class of 2015.)

A glamorous proposal? Definitely.

May 25 and 26 in NYC, Incisal Edgethe leading lifestyle magazine for dental professionals nationwide, will host its annual two-day event to create a photography portfolio in preparation of its 6th “40 Under 40” edition. The dental lifestyle magazine is looking for the top 40 dentists in the U.S. who are under the age of 40 and are setting new benchmarks for outstanding dentistry.  Dentists are welcome to self-nominate and should feel free to nominate a colleague or peer.

Don’t miss the opportunity of a lifetime. Deadline is April 4, 2016. Nominate today at:

Hear from America’s best young dentists as they share their firsthand knowledge:

With the celebrity that comes as an Incisal Edge 40 Under 40 dentist, you might as well be on The jumbotron.

Incisal Edge 40 Under 40. Nominate today.

May 25 and 26 in NYC, Incisal Edge, the leading lifestyle magazine for dental professionals nationwide, will host its annual two-day event to create a photography portfolio in preparation of its 6th “40 Under 40” edition, featuring the top young dentists in America.










Police chief finds his spirit refreshed with Toothbrush Christmas Campaign


North Bend, Oregon’s Toothbrush Christmas Campaign demonstrates how one humble request and one community filled with the spirit of kindness can help hundreds feel the warmth of caring hearts.

Police Chief Robert Kappelman explained the story behind the hand-sewn stockings filled with books, toys, a toothbrush and toothpaste that 400 children in his community received as a holiday surprise. Two years ago, in his role as a reluctant Santa, he received a request from a young boy for basic needs: a toothbrush and toothpaste. The simple wish inspired him to call on his community to help, and they responded in droves.

Lisa Flam for, shared a letter he posted on the police department’s Facebook page and on the city’s website, where donations can be made to keep the Toothbrush Christmas Campaign alive this year.

Read Chief Kappelman’s letter and learn how you can participate: