Changing Lives—And Now, Direction: Smiles For Success Following New Path

When Carmen began her free treatment through Smiles for Success in 2016, she and her dentist became fast friends. Now with a perfect smile, Carmen’s job search brought her right back to that same person, Dr. Donna, where she worked at the New York office’s front desk for years. The two stayed by each other’s sides until the very end when Dr. Donna passed away in 2018. With no close family, Carmen insisted on compforting her in her time of need. The bonds between patient and doctor created by the Smiles For Success program go far beyond the dental chair.

Shift from dental schools to private practice

Established in 1995 through the American Association of Women Dentists (AAWD), Smiles For Success has been lifting up women and giving them the confidence they need to face a job interview ever since. Dentists volunteer their time “to assist women in transition from welfare to work who cannot afford the cost of dental care.” 

Until recently, the program’s doctors were dental school students eager to learn and always willing to perform treatment. But Smiles For Success was paying a price. “We were losing money. It was totally a financial thing. Our funds had been just slowly going down, down, down,” said Dr. Mary Martin, president of Smiles For Success. “We loved being through the dental schools. And we had worked a lot through grants, but the grants dried up. Dental schools aren’t free.” As a result, Smiles For Success shifted focus back to private practice dentists.

“The switch gives us the opportunity to engage our active AAWD dentists more,” noted Dr. Brittany Bergeron, AAWD president and ex-officio board member. “Our members really like the philanthropic outreach part of AAWD that is Smiles For Success. It caused us to pull back and regroup and realize that we needed to shift that focus to better serve our members.” Moving back to private practices gives Smiles For Success the chance to call on female dentists involved in the AAWD while saving costs. Dentists will volunteer their time, practice, and materials with no cost to Smiles For Success.

Pilot program

The new pilot program kicked off with three practices in Texas, Maryland, and Georgia, with plans to expand. “Centering the program in a community around the practitioner with other fellow AAWD members who can help support, raise funds, awareness, and interact with centers for women, has made it much easier to find dentists for the program,” said Dr. Mary Beth Reidy, vice president and director of the organization’s student chapters. Smiles For Success is currently searching for a member of the AAWD to volunteer their practice and time in the Atlanta, Georgia area. 

Hope amid pandemic

“It’s going to be hard to restart a program like this at a time like this. And yet I feel we need something to look forward to, to feel good about,” said Dr. Martin. “We still need that ability to say, ‘wow, this is why I went to dental school; this is why I do this.’ And I think Smiles For Success is a way for dentists to get that feeling back.”

If you’d like to get involved with Smiles For Success and the American Association of Women Dentists, visit their websiteand complete a volunteer appliation or email info@smilesforsuccess.org. 

Ready to partner, acquire, or hire at your dental practice? Find resources at this new website.

Whether buying their first practice or preparing for retirement, dentists can benefit from new resources the Benco Dental team has developed to help.

The Benco Practice Transitions experts understand how to meet dentists where they are — at every stage of their careers.

How Benco has changed the game

First, a newly launched website and database for customers presents educational and informational videos and an overview of services. Complete with resources for dental students to connect with Benco, the site explains how to get started with the Transitions team.

Next, Benco aligns with key players in the field.
* In-house consultant Dr. Jim Clark brings 30-plus years of personal experience to the team and shares his knowledge with customers
* Brokerages across the country partner with Benco to offer guidance on finances during a transition, and to assist dentists as they buy or sell a practice.

Finally, Benco Practice Transition experts identify job openings, guide in hiring the right candidates for a practice, and directly match buyers and sellers. Whether doctors seek to partner, acquire, or hire, Benco can help!

Benco Dental Practice Transitions presents its newly launched website and database for customers presents educational and informational videos and an overview of services.

Creating the future together

All of these new offerings in the Benco Dental Practice Transitions pilot phase are just the beginning. Coming soon: AI (Artificial Intelligence) tools on the website will better match dentists to practices, and job postings will allow practices to reach their full potential.

Where to begin? Start your transitions journey with Benco Dental — check out the new website for more information: practicetransitions.benco.com

DENTISTING DURING CORONAVIRUS Part 7: Interview with Dr. James Tejeda

In this new series, we’ll be asking questions and getting first-person perspectives on what it’s like so far to practice amid the pandemic. Every region, every practice, every practitioner has unique stores so we’re chronicling them here to give you an up-close and personal look at challenges, solutions and inspiring moments across the country.

Dr. James Tejada was destined for dentistry from a young age. Growing up with a hygienist mother and other family members in the industry, he says he has “always had a great support system.” Since graduating from the University of Texas School of Dentistry in Houston, he has focused on continuing his education, taking courses on implants, Advanced Guided Tissue Regeneration, and more. Work is a family affair…Dr. Tejada and his wife, Dr. Samantha Tejada, own and operate WoodSprings Dentistry in Spring, Texas.

When did you reopen your practice?

We got the approval to reopen in Texas around mid-May. It was a Friday, but we waited until the following Monday because we wanted to make sure we were prepared and had all of the proper PPE.

What has been the biggest challenge so far?


Obtaining the PPE was the biggest challenge. Everything was on backorder because all of the supplies were on hold for hospitals. Making staff feel safe was also a challenge for us; they trust us, but we still had to show them all of the precautions and steps that we took to protect them and our patients.

How have the changes in PPE affected your ability to practice?

PPE affected my comfort level slightly. Practicing with extra clothing makes it a little warmer in the practice. We dropped temperatures in the office, so we don’t sweat as much. The face shield took some time to get used to because it made depth perception a little unusual.

How has the experience been with patients? Has it been difficult to encourage patients to come into the office?

Not really, most patients are excited to come in. A few have been cautious and wanted to know more details about protocols in the practice, but once we explained, they felt comfortable. We sent emails and texts to patients to update them about our COVID plan. We sent out questionnaires provided by the ADA to make staff and patients feel safe.

Have you encountered any challenges with staff members?

No, we are a startup dental practice with a smaller staff. I guess it can be good and bad. With a larger staff there is a higher risk of exposure to Covid, but with a smaller staff, if someone does get it, being down a number will take a toll on us.

Will dentistry ever return to what it was like pre-COVID? Should it? Or are the new precautions justified even in a world with a vaccine?

I think it will be somewhere in the middle. I don’t think dentistry will ever go back to how it was. Dentistry has always been a cautious field. We’ve dealt with a lot of illnesses over the years, and this is just another one. With a vaccine, we may see face shields go away, but I think higher level masks will stick around.

DENTISTING DURING CORONAVIRUS Part 6: Interview with Dr. Amy Gentner

In this new series, we’ll be asking questions and getting first-person perspectives on what it’s like so far to practice amid the pandemic. Every region, every practice, every practitioner has unique stores so we’re chronicling them here to give you an up-close and personal look at challenges, solutions and inspiring moments across the country.

Dentistry has been calling Dr. Amy Gentner since the eighth grade. She followed her passion to the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, where she earned multiple scholarships and was voted best general dentist of her class. She now owns and operates her practice, Gentner Family Dentistry, in St. Johns, Michigan. Dr. Gentner also serves as an active member of the American Dental Association, the Michigan Dental Association, the Academy of General Dentistry, and several others. When she’s not in her practice, Dr. Gentner speaks to local classes and groups about dentistry, as well as donating dental supplies to local charities.

When did you reopen your practice?

We reopened to patients on May 29th.

What has been the biggest challenge so far?

The stronger PPE and heavier masks have been causing a lot of physical stress, headaches, and exhaustion.

How have the changes in PPE affected your ability to practice?

We were very blessed to get enough PPE. We got support from the community early on, we donated KN95 masks and then got KN95 masks back from the local FEMA. There was some difficulty getting face shields from main suppliers, but we contacted private companies and were able to get them. As far as items being inauthentic, we had a batch of masks that was on the approved list but got taken off, so we had to get rid of them. But for the most part, we stuck to reputable dealers and were aware of authenticity early on.

How has the experience been with patients? Has it been difficult to encourage patients to come into the office?

We’ve had some older or unhealthy patients postpone their visits, but for the most part, our office is swamped. Before we reopened, we filmed a tour of what to expect. The video showed the new office layout and our new PPE. The video was posted on Facebook and sent through email. When patients came in, they told us how comfortable they felt in our office because of our communication. Communication is important for leaders. Patients and staff are looking to you for advice and leadership. You need to have done enough research to know and understand what you’re talking about.

Have you encountered any challenges with staff members?

One hygienist asked for the summer off to help her elderly parents because she did not want to compromise their health. Another staff member has had high anxiety about Covid, but throughout, I have been working to make her feel comfortable in the office. Prior to opening, I sent care packages to staff, hosted Zoom meetings for social connection, and we had three days of training in the office right before opening.

Will dentistry ever return to what it was like pre-COVID? Should it? Or are the new precautions justified even in a world with a vaccine?

Once we have herd immunity and a vaccine, I think a lot will return to normal. The PPE takes a toll and is hard on bodies. I can’t imagine having a full career with this much PPE. We need to work to balance viruses and safety long term.

Practice Transitions Stories: Rebuilding The Log Cabin

Dr. Jim Clark, Benco Dental’s Head of Practice Transitions, has bought and sold multiple practices during his 30-year career. But only once did he buy a practice, and end up selling it back to the owner. 

The year was 1997, but the rustic log cabin housing a dental practice appeared to be out of the mid-19th century. Situated on the bank of a Montevallo, Alabama creek, it was owned by the chief of the fire department, the head of the Montevallo historical society, and the director of the state historical society—all the same person. In over his head, the busy practice was slipping from the dentist’s hands. 

Dr. Clark, by then savvy on streamlining systems and confident in his ability to whip it into shape, bought the practice with hopes of making lasting changes. His intention was to focus on the business side so the former owner, a beloved figure in the community, could keep doing dentistry. 

Kind—but eccentric

“He could have had an instrument in a patient’s mouth, but if that fire alarm went off, he would have jumped on the truck and left the patient in the chair,” Dr. Clark remembered. It’s also an understatement to say the doctor was flexible with patients who had trouble paying. “He graduated from The Pankey Institute, but he would have traded dentistry for just about anything…pigs, chickens, someone to paint his house.” 

Visits to the practice were spent encouraging the dentist to adopt better financial management. When Dr. Clark wasn’t there to oversee things, the office management team kept them in order. “This particular practice needed a lot of outside management,” Dr. Clark said. “He was pressuring the assistants to return to old ways when I wasn’t there. Even though I owned the practice, the dentist just could not give up control.” After four years, Dr. Clark sold the practice back to the former owner.

Saved from the brink

“This particular model I have of buying the practices and leaving them with the same person in charge has a downside,” said Dr. Clark.  “It’s hard to change the way they practice and get doctors out of bad habits. This practice was a unique experience.” 

Over time, Dr. Clark figured this doctor was always going to have trouble conforming to the new style of his management team. “After I saved his practice from the brink of bankruptcy and he bought it back, I heard he returned to a lot of his old ways. He was a great guy, but only wanted to be the employer, never the employee.”

But, on the bright side…

Despite the management battle, Dr. Clark says he never regrets a practice bought and sold.  “When you have doctors who are not willing to follow the basic protocols the management team put in place, you have to decide whether to fire them or give them more options. When owning practices, it’s never as easy as people think. There are pitfalls you’re responsible for and at some point, you have to solve the situation.” 

From his perspective, there is always something to be learned for the next transition—and this was one lesson he’d never forget.

Thinking about a transition of your own?

As Dr. Clark says, it’s never too early—or too late—to talk about it. You can contact him personally at jc8602@benco.com or leave a message at 1-800-GO-BENCO. Visit Benco Dental’s Transitions online to learn more about Dr. Clark and our team’s services.

Keeping Students On Track Through Summer

 

 

The Benco Family Foundation is working with the United Way and Highlights to help kids keep up their studies with unique learning program tailored especially for pandemic times.

 

Health, safety, food security, shelter…the United Way seemed to cover it all in protecting the Wyoming Valley against the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. But the group quickly realized one integral part of the community population was left out of the plan: students. As COVID-19 shuttered schools and forced teaching to move online, the United Way grew concerned about the quality of education and lack of guidance children received while at home.

So the United Way turned to the Benco Family Foundation.

 

While finishing school from home, many students can become distracted, making it difficult to advance to the next grade level. Together, the United Way and the Benco Family Foundation have created a Summer Learning Workbook initiative to help students stay on top of their studies during the summer months. Students spending time outside a school environment risk losing critical academic skills and knowledge in a “summer slide.”

 

Chuck Cohen, Benco Dental’s Managing Director, believes the initiative aligns with the company’s values and long-term commitment to community-driven projects. “We are dedicated to helping the local schools deliver an outstanding educational experience to students in spite of the challenges of the pandemic,” he said.

 

Developed by Highlights, the award-winning children’s educational publisher located in

Northeastern Pennsylvania, the workbooks allow students to complete activities on their own without the assistance of parents. Geared towards students in kindergarten through second grade, the books cover math and language arts activities. And getting young students on the path to reading is crucial to their future success: a national study by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading showed one in six children who do not read proficiently by the third grade will not graduate from high school on time. The exercises in the workbook will not only help students improve their math skills over the summer, but also give kids the tools to achieve reading success by the third grade.

 

Although there is no dental or oral healthcare component to the workbooks, the Benco Family Foundation continues to be a decades-long supporter of the United Way. “We believe the work [the United Way] is doing to bring children from poverty to possibility is critical,” said Benco Family Foundation Executive Director Rebecca Binder. “The Benco Family Foundation has always supported children in our community with a variety of educational programs from dental health to general education.”

 

The workbook program will not only give students confidence, but provide a strong educational foundation for success as they move through grade school. However, getting workbooks in the hands of students in school districts with the highest levels of poverty is no easy feat and cannot be done alone. Providing over 7,000 workbooks throughout 13 school districts in the Wyoming Valley community will cost upwards of $70,000. The current $14,000 raised is not enough to give every student the tools needed to make it to the next grade level. To put donations into perspective, just $100 provides workbooks for 10 students and $10,000 will supply a large school district for the summer months. The summer workbook will help students who have limited access to technology and educational resources stay engaged with schoolwork and move them ahead for the upcoming school year.

 

According to the United Way, an estimated 11,535 children under the age of 18 in the Wyoming Valley are living below the poverty line. The pandemic has continuously revealed inequalities, specifically in regard to educational opportunities. “These are difficult times, the next generation of students can not afford to fall behind,” Binder said. “We need to give students access to the resources they need to succeed.”

 

To learn more or donate to the United Way’s 2020 Summer Learning Workbook Initiative, visit unitedwaywb.com.

Did someone say Podinar?

If you’re not familiar with Podinar and the “Olympics of Dentistry,” Dr. Kianor Shah (shown, above left) of the Global Summits Institute (GSI) is here to enlighten on both topics.

Earlier this year, the Institute, based in Las Vegas, Nevada, hosted its 2020 Peer-To-Peer Global Dental Interdisciplinary Summit in a new format. The Global Interdisciplinary Summit Webinars occured from April 15 through May 31, and to date, Dr. Shah said over 400,000 dental professionals from around the world have been reached.

According to Dr. Shah, DMD, MBA, some have coined the annual event an “Olympics of Dentistry,” and others have championed it as a tremendous international effort.

The Global Summits Institute brings together renowned speakers from more than 70 countries and all the continents to teach, learn, share, support and provide a unified resource in every discipline and specialty in the profession of dentistry.

“During the pandemic, our friends and colleagues are increasing their skills, knowledge and abilities with this peer-to-peer initiative and platform.”

Dr. Kianor Shah, DMD, MBA

A GPS for healthcare professionals

The Podinar, first-of-its-kind designed by healthcare professionals for healthcare professionals, combines educational seminars, peer-to-peer learning, and podcasts with a video format.

Dr. Shah said the Global Podinar Summit (GPS), hosted by the Institute, can be accessed by healthcare professionals from around the world.

  • Podinars are hosted by experts in the same field as the seasoned international lecturers and presenters.
  • The first half of each session is conducted in a podcast format.
  • The second half in a webinar slide format, followed by questions and answers.

The ability to communicate via technology with vast outreach has a significant impact on developing initiatives to decrease oral disease, a worldwide silent epidemic, according to Dr. Shah.

See for yourself.

The GPS series can be viewed on Facebook @GlobalSummits in the video section, or @Podinars on Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram and Youtube for the scheduled live sessions.

The Institute offers these complimentary Podinars to every healthcare professional with the belief that the Podinar format will create “a more intimate learning experience between the presenters and the viewership”.

Dr. Shah said the peer-to-peer mechanism leverages technology and social media in order to reach healthcare professionals who otherwise do not have the finances, the ability to travel, or the access to gain this wealth of knowledge.

Today Dr. Christian Coachman and host, Dr. Shah, discussed “The Evolving Clinician. How to Differentiate Yourself.”

The current Podinar series focuses on the dental profession and has already reached over two million professionals, said Dr. Shah.

For details, contact: info@Gi-Summit.com

Stop Leaving Money On The Table. Invest Four Hours With THE Medical Billing Expert—This Friday 7/17!

She hates the term “expert,” yet there’s no other way to categorize Laurie Owens, CPB, CPC . With over 18 years of experience as a medical biller, she understands how to teach dental practices the proper techniques for billing medical insurance—and getting claims paid. 

Owens believes that patients should be able to use their medical insurance as it should be used: for medically necessary procedures due to oral systemic conditions. She literally helps untie dentists’ hands, so you can start doing the procedures your patients need and actually get compensated for them. (That would be nice for a change, right?)

Why should you attend her two-part seminar starting Friday, July 17?

“Dentists are skittish about billing, and lose out on tons of money annually because of incorrect billings,” Owens said. “Dentists are afraid to even bill a full bone graft fee. If you bill your implant dental, you write off $2,000 and your allowable is $1,500.” In her workshop, she will teach dentists how to properly shift fees to write off only $100, all while keeping the patients’ fee the same. 

Dentists everywhere can benefit from even a fraction of Laurie Owens’ knowledge on the subject. Fortunately, Benco is hosting a two-part workshop with her as part of our “Dentistry 2020 & Beyond” series. Here are the deets:

How she became a medical billing guru

Owens says she tried out various roles in healthcare before discovering her passion for helping dentists bill smarter and more successfully while delivering more complete patient care. Through on-site training, medical billing for dentistry courses, follow-up consulting, along with Seattle Study Club, ACT Dental, and AADOM lectures, she has been assisting dental practices in successfully billing medical insurance to collect benefits that would have otherwise been unclaimed. 

Walks it like she talks it

“I don’t want people to think that I teach something that I won’t do. I have an office in Florida. I have an office in Washington state. I have an office in Texas. I’m billing for offices around the country.” Her practices give her a significant advantage and edge when educating others. Because she never completely left the field of actual day-to-day billing, Owens understands what goes in and out of offices today. “People need to know that not only am I teaching you how to bill, but I am also a biller.”

“I learned things the hard way. Things that took me years to learn, I am going to be sharing them with dentists in a matter of hours in my workshop.”

Her two-part workshop will take place in two parts, July 17th and July 23th. You must complete both parts to receive 4 CE credits.

For $125, this workshop pays for itself­—and then some—after just one successfully billed procedure. To purchase your electronic ticket, click here.

Dental practices: Fix the summertime schedule blues

Summer can be a challenging time for dental practices. With children out of school, families traveling, doctors and team members taking time off, data analysis shows that summer months can sometimes have a negative impact on a practice’s overall growth and profitability. But, by focusing on the right key performance indicators, it is possible to turn summertime dental practice blues into a sunny, successful season. (Hint: It’s about scheduling to goal vs. scheduling to fill the schedule.)

Clinical hours are critical

One of the first areas of focus: Production Per Visit, or PPV.
If during non-summer months, your practice produces around $100,000 in revenue. In June, that amount drops to $50,000 in revenue, even though you only took one week off for a family vacation. What happened here? If you only had one week with no production, shouldn’t your June revenue have been $75,000? This is a common occurrence, and the cause is often related to how you manage clinical hours.

There are three types of “hours” a practice can track: Clock-in, clinical, and chairside hours.
* Clock-in hours refers to the total number of hours you or an employee is clocked in; let’s use 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. as a typical example.
* Clinical hours are those you are available to provide dentistry. You might be in the practice from 8 a.m to 5 p.m., but during that time you take an hour off for lunch. A block of time might be set aside for you to manage the business. In this example, your clinical hours would be seven, not nine.
* Chairside hours are those you are actually providing dental care – examining patients, “drilling and filling,” performing cosmetic dentistry. In other words, the hours you are actually getting paid.

Which of these three types of hours are most impactful on your practice’s PPV? Clinical hours, of course. They’re the best way for your practice to establish and schedule to goal.

Perhaps you’re thinking “I want to track all three types of hours,” and if so, have at it. Doing so will be a challenge and frankly, probably won’t offer a meaningful return on the effort you put in.

Tracking your clinical hours and trying to increase your PPV during those hours is a much better use of your valuable time.

Photo: http://www.pexels.com

Scheduling to Goal


Ready to set your goal? Take your current PPV and multiply that by your available clinical hours.

As an example:
If your current PPV is $650 and your total current clinical hours for the month are 100 (25 hours per week x 4 weeks = 100 hours), that equals an average of $65,000 you can personally produce per month.
For your total PPV, add production hours from your hygienist, as well as any other clinicians.

With this powerful data in hand, you’ve removed the guesswork and generated hard facts to use in making wise decisions.

Put another way, if you are working ten hours this week and want to be producing $1,000 per hour, those managing the schedule should be looking for ways to ensure you’ve got at least $10,000 in scheduled production for the week.

Not quite there? You only have two ways to increase production – increase the number of visits or increase the amount of production per visit. The scheduler should be looking for the best opportunities to schedule to goal, such as higher-value cases, cosmetic dentistry, and crowns.

Scheduling to goal vs. scheduling to fill the schedule is your best solution to the summertime blues.

To learn how to get the most out of your schedule, set up a no-cost practice analysis with Dental Intelligence today. We’d love to show you what’s working well in your practice and what needs some help. Visit dentalintel.com to learn more.

About the blogger

Scott Livingston is the Director of Communications for Dental Intelligence. His focus is on helping the company to tell the story of how actionable data can measurably improve patient care, team collaboration and dental practice profitability. 

Outside of work, Scott enjoys spending time with his family, hiking the many trails in Utah, and serving others in his church and local community.

DENTISTING DURING CORONAVIRUS Part 5: Interview with Dr. Jason Auerbach

In this new series, we’ll be asking questions and getting first-person perspectives on what it’s like so far to practice amid the pandemic. Every region, every practice, every practitioner has unique stores so we’re chronicling them here to give you an up-close and personal look at challenges, solutions and inspiring moments across the country.

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon Dr. Jason Auerbach, otherwise known as @BloodyToothGuy to his nearly 130,000 Instagram followers, built Riverside Oral Surgery from the ground up. Starting with one practice, Dr. Auerbach now has four practices across multiple New Jersey counties. After graduating with honors from New York University College of Dentistry and completing a residency at SUNY-Downstate Medical Center, Dr. Auerbach committed himself to providing, in his own words, “with uncompromised care in an unparalleled setting.” He is a regular on New Jersey magazine’s annual list of Top Dentists. Dr. Auerbach is also an Incisal Edge 40 Under 40 alum and his Englewood location was featured in the magazine.

Q: When did you reopen your practice?

A: We never truly closed our practice. We were seeing emergencies throughout.

Q: What has been the biggest challenge so far?

A: The biggest challenge was deciding to furlough as many team members as I had to. I started my practice from zero with only one office and now we have four offices, 42 employees and six surgeons. Having to decide to furlough or lay off some of these people who I consider my family was probably the most emotionally difficult part. From a financial perspective, trying to figure out the financial side of things like how to navigate the legislation and the PPP was also difficult. Fortunately, we were okay with our PPE thanks to Benco.

Q: How have the changes in PPE affected your ability to practice?

A: Not really. In oral and maxillofacial surgery, we have been used to practicing with a ton of PPE because of our hospital experience. From the beginning, the biggest difference was figuring out the flow and teaching our team how to manage with PPE. It’s a different experience for us than for a general dentist or hygienist who is not used to gowning up and surgically working in a sterile field.

Q: How has the experience been with patients? Has it been difficult to encourage patients to come into the office?

A: Our patients have been looking forward to coming back, they want to get going and they’re looking at how and when they can get in. We’ve been very, very fortunate. Granted, there’s concern, but we’ve done a good job in terms of our protocols, procedures and implementing new technology. We know the patient is in the safest environment possible and we’re optimizing that whole side of our practice.

Q: Have you encountered any challenges with staff members?

A: There are childcare issues, younger employees who have young children have had trouble in terms of managing who’s taking care of them. As far as certain employees and team members having anxiety or fear about coming back, my practice has been at the forefront of practices in the area. We’ve been hosting live webinars with all kinds of experts in the field. The issue with my employees has been assuring them they are working in a safe environment and we are doing everything we can for them.

Q: Will dentistry ever return to what it was like pre-COVID? Should it? Or are the new precautions justified even in a world with a vaccine?

A: I think this will raise awareness for a lot of dentists who were a bit less cautious. Most of the people who are dentists now have been practicing only since universal precautions were established. What HIV, AIDS, and Hepatitis C did for bloodborne pathogen awareness and how we approach universal precautions, is what COVID-19 will do for awareness of airborne pathogens. This will bring a new standard for patient care and become our norm. We will all be aware of airborne pathogens in a way that we otherwise were not as dentists. As the years go on, we’ll better understand COVID, the pathogenesis, and what this specific coronavirus does. I think we will be in a situation where we will be able to handle it in a much better way. As long as you are protected and your team is protected and you’re taking into account what’s best for patients, yourself, your team and society at large, we’ll be alright.

Q: Your Instagram account has an international following. What did you think as you were watching the pandemic unfold in real time on social media, and was there any communication and collaboration between you and your followers?

A: I come at this from two different angles. My practice is looked to as a leader for guidance from all of these dentists and we are very honored and appreciative for that. I was listening to oral surgeons in Asia and Eastern Europe daily. I was talking to oral surgeons in Italy who were two or three weeks ahead of the United States. I was getting an understanding of what they were experiencing and I was assuming that we were going to experience the same things. Having international relationships allowed me to get in front of it here. I was very, very fortunate to leverage those friendships that have been formed on social media to help Riverside Oral Surgery. It allowed us to be ahead of the curve and allowed us to be progressive. We had aerosol management systems well before anyone even thought about it. We had air purification systems in place in the offices before anybody thought of it. We had sneeze guards in front of our reception areas before anyone thought of it. We were ready for this because I was talking to people who were going through it before I was. We really harnessed the power of social media. I was thankfully able to do that and it was a tremendous leg up and tremendous advantage.