Increasing production is much easier than most dentists think. The reason it doesn’t happen continually is that most dentist don’t stay focused on it. When you’re happy with your income, lifestyle, and savings you may not put a whole lot of time into improving practice production performance. People who are comfortable in this way tend to, as they say, “take their foot off the gas.” But you shouldn’t.
Increasing production is the mainstay of any business and it requires constant attention. If production doesn’t go up, profit won’t go up either. Dentistry has more competitive factors than ever before, so every practice must be focused on growing its production by either small amounts or to hit larger goals. Growth is always a best defense against a decline.
Here are three powerful steps you should consider if you want to increase production quickly:
Diagnose periodontal disease. Practices that are not
diagnosing periodontal disease lose tens, if not hundreds of thousands of
dollars per year in initial therapy services. Adding the diagnosis and
treatment of basic periodontal services for patients is like adding a brand or
service to the practice.
Schedule all patients. Many practices have only 80 – 85% of their patients scheduled. Think
about how much production is lost through the 15-20% of unscheduled patients
every year. That’s why you should set the goal of scheduling 98% of patients at
all times. In fact, 93% of them should be scheduled before they walk out of the
office. The other 7% can be scheduled using a nine-week follow up system
powered by effective scripting. Keeping patients scheduled in this way is the
smartest way to keep patients bonded and loyal to the practice.
Give hygienists more
control. Hygienist should be trained to identify all
potential treatment, educate patients about treatment, and motivate the patient
to have treatment. They should also be
encouraged to go over fees and close the case.
Don’t panic—the doctor should still be the final decision-maker to
review all findings. However, because the hygienist has much more time to talk
to patients and explain findings and recommendations, they have more
opportunities to close cases than the dentist, who is rushed and typically
spends less than five minutes on hygiene checks. Keep in mind that that
hygienist should make the effort to follow up on all unaccepted treatment. Many
practices have a “one-and-done” type of mentality. If the patient doesn’t
accept treatment that’s it—nothing can be done, and nobody ever mentions it
again. However, when you do check in with patients again, they’re often still
By implementing the tactics above almost any
practice can grow production—by a lot. It’s only a matter of having the desire,
the strategies, and putting them in place.
About the blogger
Roger P. Levin, DDS is the CEO and Founder of Levin Group, a leading practice management consulting firm that has worked with over 30,000 practices to increase production. A recognized expert on dental practice management and marketing, he has written 67 books and over 4,000 articles and regularly presents seminars in the U.S. and around the world.
To contact Dr. Levin or to join the 40,000 dental professionals who receive his Practice Production Tip of the Day, visit www.levingroup.com or email email@example.com.
What would you do to protect your family in a country plagued by war, poverty, labor camps and the very real possibility of execution? Would you escape?
That’s what Dr. Tori Thuy-Conrad’s parents did to flee post-war Vietnam, although it wasn’t as easy as hopping on a plane. In fact, the government declared leaving the country illegal.
“We were so poor, and living in that state of poverty was no way to live. We didn’t have much food. My parents’ jobs didn’t provide for a hopeful future for our family.”
Dr. Tori Thuy-Conrad said, recalling the stories her parents told of Vietnam.
The only way many Vietnamese people could escape communist oppression was by boat, a risky attempt some refugees did not survive. Those who were brave enough to flee, an estimated 1.5 million of them from 1975 to 1995, were known as “Boat People.”
In 1980, when Dr. Conrad was just six weeks old, she and her family boarded her father’s fishing boat, a vessel not designed for the open ocean, and were joined by seven other siblings and cousins.
They sailed into the South China Sea from Hue City, not knowing where, when and if they would make landfall. They sailed for days, weeks, over a month, not knowing where the tides would take them.
“We spent over 38 days at sea without a definitive destination. We arrived at a refugee camp in Hong Kong, where we resided for months until we were brought to a brighter future by the sponsorship of a United States family.”
Dr. Tori Thuy-Conrad, recalling the stories her parents told of Vietnam.
Dr. Conrad ended up in Denver, Colorado, a stark difference from the tropical climate of central Vietnam, and began to live an American life.
Finding her dentistry destiny
Dr. Conrad attended Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in chemistry, but the atomic mass of atoms was not all she found. She also met her husband there, and a burning desire to help people.
“I’ve always known I wanted to be in the health care field, helping others heal through medicine, especially children.”
After graduation from Coe, she moved to Minneapolis to study dental hygiene at the University of Minnesota, but she wanted more, and continued her education to earn a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree.
Today, the 2019 Incisal Edge 40 Under 40 honoree owns and practices at Tweet Pediatric Dentistry in Chanhassen, Minnesota, and is a mom of three. She juggles the responsibilities of a full-time dentist and a mother, an act that has its challenges.
“I think the most challenging aspects of dentistry is not the dentistry, it’s running a business. I had to learn as I went along and made a lot of mistakes. My mentors have guided me along the way.”
Although it’s difficult to run a business, Dr. Conrad loves her patients. She believes she makes a difference in their lives, and they return the favor to her.
“I am so grateful I get to do this and make such a difference in these children’s lives. The high-fives and hugs that I’m left with when my little patients leave their appointments leave me beaming with happiness.”
Dr. Tori Thuy-Conrad
When not in her operatory, Dr. Conrad is in the kitchen experimenting. She loves to cook for her family — and with them. Her favorite cuisine is Italian, without the pasta. She likes to stray from her cookbooks and allow her creativity to take over.
“I love using the fresh herbs and flavors, and pairing them with more proteins and vegetables in place of pasta. I try to create dishes without a recipe. I find it most rewarding when I have someone who eats my creation and provides raving remarks on a recipe that does not exist. It’s the best compliment.”
Dr. Conrad’s dreams never end. She wants to improve her culinary skills and one day compete on the Food Network show Chopped, a challenging competition where three chefs battle for supremacy. She also wishes to pilot a plane.
With many years of dentistry behind her, she has advice for those who dream to be who she is—a successful, practicing dentist.
“Utilize all resources and mentors out there. There are so many people willing to lend advice, reach out often and be willing to extend the same as you gain experience and knowledge. I give many thanks to my mentors for helping me reach my dreams, but also to alleviate and get me through the challenges I face.”
If anyone doubts their dreams, they need to speak with Dr. Conrad, whose tenacity and motivation is the stuff of inspiration.
Dentistry in one of the few fields of study where what we create, as practitioners, is physical in nature. As a result of that, it’s easy for us to compare the fruits of our labor to photographs found in textbooks or ones referenced on the lecture circuit. All too often we lose sight of the fact that we work in a very unforgiving environment of a human mouth. We try to recreate the ‘Taj Mahal‘ of crowns in patients who are fearful, who wiggle and dance in the chair, who cough and spit during procedures, and who are constricted by finances. Furthermore, our fairy tale mouth rehabs are limited to an hour of chair time and are constantly interrupted by hygiene check, patient messages and the occasional compressor mishaps.
This idea of seeking perfection isn’t an instinct, but is rather self-taught and further reinforced by our educational background and consequently our practice. Growing into a relationship with what is perceived as perfect we suffer both physically – as we hunch overtime in tedious practice and emotionally – in lacking self acceptance and resorting to self deprication). And as we fail to produce the textbook endo, each and every time, we are unable to forgive ourselves and often forget that we, too, are human. We struggle with wanting to be perfect when we should realize we are just good enough being perfectly imperfect. As far as the quality of work is concerned: striving for perfection and attaining perfection are two very different things. In understanding and separating them, we can find more peace in our mind and satisfaction in our work.
How does it all begin?
As early as high school we begin in our pursuit of numbers. In those numbers we develop an anchor. We start chasing that ‘the high score.’ .This doesn’t necessarily pertain to everyone, there are some very talented people out there to whom this won’t apply to; but I’d estimate that most of us, who have the seed in ourselves to seek higher education, any kind of graduate study, will end up making ourselves vulnerable to numbers.
In its infancy this relationship with numbers is fairly underdeveloped and as inexperienced and vulnerable students that’s when it’s initiated. At first it’s very unassuming. Higher grades in high school tend be received with much less study, than in college or professional school. As we keep those grades high, we gather the attention, and dare I say respect, of our parents, teachers and classmates. In time, chasing the A, becomes like a casino machine payout. Get an A: ding! ding! ding! And so, we keep chasing the payout. The other thing that begins during these formative years is a quest to be the number one, and looking at our peers as our fierce competition.
The ease of high scores settles a bit in college. It’s a larger pool of thinking minds, chasing that same A. But as our plans toward graduate school sharpen, so must our grades. And once again: we chase the A, the DAT score, the ranking. Ding, Ding, Ding, goes the payout. Like an addiction. The anchor is established even deeper. And as before we continue to compete. Upon college graduation, having been habitually graded, we become comfortable with our anchor number. And this in turn, ends up tying to our self worth. It becomes automatic on our minds: high score produces a good day, it increases our self worth and a low score can lead to self loathing.
Maggie W. Augustyn, D.D.S.
Each one of us comes up with a sort of scale of what that lucky anchor number. Is it a 3.5 GPA or 3.9 GPA? The higher the number with which we have this relationship, the more intense the pressure. And this goes on all the way thru dental school, who knows maybe even post grad. As does the peer rivalry. Our self esteem is at its peak as we gain that acceptance to dental school. That’s the we hear the biggest Ding! of all.
Once in dental school we may crash a bit. We are no longer that 5%, 10%, maybe not even top 25%. Now, we are all pretty much the same. Similar GPA, test scores, extracurriculars. Nothing to make us extraordinary. The Ding’s don’t come as often. Of course, as with everything, there are outliers, but most of us, are just average, smack down in the middle of the bell curve. And now what: does the occasional C, or mostly Bs cloud our self worth? No, we are forced to find a different type of anchor; we begin to tie our self worth to what we perceive to be the quality of our dentistry.
Remember that we have been chasing a number on a grading scale, we have tied our self worth to some anchor; we have tied our self worth to the act of being graded; And now comes the translation which starts with our preps being graded. Our endos being graded. But not just that, we can see the tangible prep, its inclination, the uniform margins, the fill to the apex, or past the apex; and we start to grade ourselves. Sometimes, we repeat in our minds what even our toughest critics wouldn’t dare to say. A dry socket can make us feel like a failure. A dry socket can make the patient look at us as a failure. None of this is true! We replace the number grading system to which we tied our self worth to, with an anchor of biased self evaluation of the quality of our work.
How do you overcome it? How do you balance the scales?
We can ask ourselves: Can we do better? Can we produce more ideal dentistry, to increase the highs and eliminate the lows? Can we work harder at being perfect? It’s a simple answer, and the answer is: no. I think all of us do the best that we can, with the skill set that we have, with the procedures and materials, with the flow of the practice and with the quirky environment of the oral cavity. We care about our patients and we care about our reputation. So to say, that if we just became better dentists, our lows would be eliminated is unrealistic and erroneous and quite frankly impossible. It’s impossible to attain perfection, each and every time, maybe even ever.
Overcoming the desire to attain perfection: A how-to
First and foremost we must accept that we are perfectly imperfect. We must stop using our short crown margins and endo underfills as the definition for our self esteem. But how? As trivial as it may seem, allow me to restate: we must forgive ourselves for the imperfect. Not walk away from it, but simply forgive, and build on it. We tried our best, we may not have attained that grade-A endo fill, and we forgive ourselves. Or maybe, look at it this way, we give ourselves permission to be imperfect. Please understand that imperfect doesn’t translate into sloppy dentistry, nor is it substandard care.
Imperfect is simply what it states: not perfect, or at least not perfect each and every time. “I have permission to do the best I can, and still come short of what is ideal.” And as we have that permission, we also piggyback the fact that we have room to improve in the current clinical situation and in the future. If the endo fill isn’t ideal, we can redo it, or we can refer out to a specialist. We can choose more continuing education, which may lead to ease of practice. But in truth, neither a referral to an endodontist, nor an 8- hour course in the use of microscope will produce perfection every time. Accepting the idea of imperfection will keep us grounded. And in time will add humility. Because aren’t we just a bit arrogant to expect that every treatment we render be textbook worthy?
We must define and recognize our weakness.
We can’t turn weakness into a strength if we keep denying our weakness. A weakness can be a learning experience. But more so, we also can’t forget that imperfection isn’t a weakness, it isn’t even a characteristic… it’s an unavoidable reality. We have to acknowledge when we are being self critical and recognize that every emotion, serves a purpose; negative feelings are simply a way of receiving information. Having recognized a negative experience we give ourselves permission to be upset and to be regretful. And that’s how we stop it from becoming an exercise in self loathing. This entire exercise will lead to forgiving ourselves our shortcomings. When we are unable to forgive ourselves that’s when we forget that we too are human.
Another practice to follow is to make a commitment to celebrate! celebrate! celebrate! our strengths. If necessary, take a minute each day and write down what is celebration worthy. When receiving a complement, take the time to marinade in it. Really, take a nominal 90 seconds and allow yourself to just be present. Let it seep in. Let it sink in. Stay mindful of it as much as you can all day.
Now, if none of those are working and if we are still really having a hard time with guilt or shame or other negative emotion: writing a note of apology to self can be very helpful.
And last, if your self critical nature is disallowing you from a mindful living, if your self loathing prevails, seek the help of a professional.
About the blogger
Maggie W. Augustyn, D.D.S. is a practicing dentist with over 15 years of experience. She graduated from Benedictine University as a University Scholar and pursued her education towards a dental degree at University of Illinois at Chicago. She is a co-owner of Happy Tooth, a private practice in Elmhurst Illinois. She resides in Lombard Illinois with her husband and daughter. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
“Each day I try to be a better person than I was yesterday. The most rewarding part of life is cultivating and maintaining relationships, but more importantly helping one another navigate the turbulent times of our existence. My mantra is ‘Life Is Good’, even if you have to shift your focus and look for it, with the right skills and attitude life is nothing short of being an amazing gift.”
“The majority of those creatures just had such interesting anatomy choices, it’s hard to pick a favorite. Another great one is the transformation scene in American Werewolf in London! There were so many different dentures used through each stage of the transformation each one getting more and more intense.”
Jordan Patton, Tom Savini’s Special Make-up Effects Program Instructor at Douglas Education Center
If Patton sounds like he’s got insight on the subject, it’s not just because those Rick Baker creations are among his favorite dentition-related scenes in film. The artist dedicates his talents as a Tom Savini’s Special Make-up Effects Program Instructor at Douglas Education Center, just outside of Pittstburgh, Pennsylvania.
Realism is vital in these projects, says Patton, who in 2018 was featured on SYFY’s FaceOff, a competition/elimination series in which special effects make-up artists participate in elaborate challenges for a grand prize and the honor of being Hollywood’s next great effects artist.
“Some of the biggest challenges to achieving a realistic look comes from subtle detailing that most wouldn’t think to pay attention to. If you want to achieve realism, you have to replicate every little detail to create the illusion of life inside your piece, down to broken capillaries, veining, pores, body hair, gloss finish versus matte finish.”
Jordan Patton, Tom Savini’s Special Make-up Effects Program Instructor at Douglas Education Center
The freelance sculptor, mask maker, and special effects artist explains some of the curriculum at the school. Before students begin working on major projects, they learn the fundamentals of anatomy.
“We start with a basic human anatomy class. We also stress the importance of anatomy in all of our base sculpture courses, as well as all of our prosthetic makeup classes, because anatomical knowledge is one of the main keys to being able to create a believable makeup.”
Like Patton, graduates of Tom Savini’s Special Make-up Effects Program Instructor at Douglas Education Center move on to successful careers, some where the teeth aren’t designed to, well, terrify. Like dental labs.
“Our first introduction to dental labs as a viable employment option for special makeup effects graduates occurred when many years ago one of our graduates obtained a job in a local dental lab. This graduate realized that the skills he learned at DEC could be applied in a different industry and he was very excited to share that revelation with the Career Services office. By engaging with current students via Mock Interviews and classroom presentations, we were able to present a different career path option to upcoming graduates.”
Dana Melvin, Career Services Department at Douglas Education Center
“In addition to dental labs, our graduates move on to develop successful careers in the film industry, theaters, special effects and prop-making shops, medical prosthetics labs, theme parks, set design, toy making, professional makeup artistry, and much more.
Amanda Smith, a graduate of Tom Savini’s Special Make-up Effects Program Instructor works today as a CAD CAM Production Manager at a dental lab in Pittsburgh. Seven years ago, she was hired for her artistic ability. Here she explains her role.
Back at the school, Patton shares some of the techniques that help students advance in their fields.
“Here we teach a digital sculpting program called Z-Brush that gives the students an introduction into the 3D modeling world and how to utilize those tools, as well as the knowledge of how to work with different file types. Both will be helpful tools to utilize with the ever-advancing world of dental prosthetics.”
He also explains the evolution in the field, using prosthetic dentures as an example.
“While some prefer to stick with the techniques of sculpting in clay on a stone positive and making molds of that, others might be more inclined to go a more digital route by utilizing 3D modeling programs, as well as 3D printing.”
Jordan Patton, Tom Savini’s Special Make-up Effects Program Instructor at Douglas Education Center
Haven’t got your fill of special effects as related to dentistry yet? See a few more examples of student creations at Tom Savini’s Special Make-up Effects Program Instructor at Douglas Education Center, shown below.
About Tom Savini’s Special Make-up Effects Program at Douglas Education Center: https://www.dec.edu/
Would you believe that a dentist invented that favorite sugary food of the local fair: cotton candy? It’s true! A dentist named William Morrison created it in 1897 with help from candy maker John C. Warton.
Originally called “Fairy Floss,” Dr. Morrison and Mr. Warton debuted their concoction at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, where it cost 25 cents. Today, that doesn’t sound like much for one of our favorite sugary treats, but in 1904, that was half the price of a ticket to enter the fair. Even though it was expensive, many people were intrigued by the spun sugar confection and more than 68,000 boxes were sold!
The early cotton candy machines were unreliable and often broke down. In 1949, Gold Medal Products of Cincinnati, Ohio, introduced a spring base for the machines that improved them. Today, Gold Medal Products manufactures almost all cotton candy machines.
While Morrison and Warton called their product “Fairy Floss,” I’m not sure the name was ever patented. In 1921 another dentist, Joseph Lascaux, improved on the earlier machine and patented the name “Cotton Candy,” by which the confection is known today in America.
While most dentists these days will tell you to stay away from sugar, cotton candy has less than other treats, simply because it’s mostly air. So, if you have the choice between cotton candy, funnel cakes, or deep fried Oreos at the next fair you attend, go for the cotton candy. Just be sure to brush your teeth when you get home, preferably with a toothbrush purchased from Benco Dental.
About the blogger
Guest blogger Jenn Ochman, Database Publishing Production Specialist in the Branding and Communication Department at Benco Dental, dedicates her time outside work to historical reenactment. She shares knowledge of dental history with TheDailyFloss.com readers on a monthly basis.
In just a few days, an annual event hosted by the Global Smile Foundation will dedicate its proceeds to making life-changing cleft lip/palate surgeries possible.
On November 2, the Celebration for Smiles will raise funds to support upcoming medical missions by Global Smile. Purchase tickets here: https://www.myrollcall.com/app/#/org/view/4217 or at the door on Saturday in Randolph, Massachusetts.
During a recent mission to Guayaquil, Ecuador, the Global Smile Foundation dental team performed 266 dental procedures, including one on Matias, shown below. Global Smile Foundation (GSF) volunteers have been involved with outreach cleft programs in Guayaquil for the past 32 years. GSF has become the largest provider of cleft care in the country and works closely with el Gobierno del Guayas, Hospital León Becerra, Fundación Global Smile-Ecuador, and the local medical community.
“As we reflect on our 11-year anniversary, we are able to see how far we have come as a foundation, bringing together the experience & dedication of our volunteers for over 32 years! Join us in celebrating this important milestone & mark your calendars for November 2, 2019!”
According to their website, Global Smile Foundation (GSF) is dedicated to “making first-class cleft care accessible to all patients regardless of geographic or socioeconomic barriers. There is a pressing need for sustainable cleft care in developing countries where the consequences of those conditions are devastating, if left untreated.” They explain some scenarios that exist:
Fathers often leave the family, believing their child or their marriage, has been cursed; parents will abandon their infant in the hospital, unable to cope with the future the child will face.
Children with cleft are generally ostracized from society, unable to go to school or make friends.
As adults, patients with cleft lips or palates have little chance of making a living.
Most patients keep from one to five family members home caring for them, rather than earning wages to support the household.
Nearly every dentist in America could benefit from 10 minutes with Benco’s new Head of Practice Transitions, Dr. Jim Clark. In his 30-plus year clinical career, the Alabama doc has done it all: creating, buying and selling multiple practices; merging his practice with (and later departing from) a DSO; working as a military dentist; and, prior to joining Benco, serving as an education specialist with a prominent implant manufacturer. It seems that no matter where you’re at in your career, Dr. Clark has likely been there too and has developed a knack for helping people figure out how to get to whatever goal is next.
“When you accumulate a lot of knowledge over the course of many years, the question then becomes what to do with it. The obvious answer is, you use it to help people. I’ve mentored a lot of dentists over the years at various points in my career, and I just developed a passion for it. At this point, I can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing.”
Dr. Jim Clark, Benco Dental’s new Head of Practice Transitions
In his new role with Benco, Dr. Clark is working to expand its transitions offerings while maintaining Benco’s focus on putting customers first. “This is all about creating real relationships and giving good advice at every stage of a doctor’s career. That’s where my focus is,” he explained. “So whether Benco is consulting with young dentists about their post-grad career path, or helping design and build your first practice, or helping you sell through our network of hand-picked brokers, it’s not about making a sale, it’s about creating a bond because we’ve really helped someone in an important way.”
As a former Benco customer himself, Dr. Clark knows The Benco Difference firsthand. He even earned enough BluChip rewards points at one point to redeem for a Harley-Davidson motorcycle (which he almost did until, as he recalled, “my wife suggested taking up motorcycle riding wasn’t the best idea.”)
The long-term relationship with his former Benco Rep actually led to Dr. Clark joining the company fulltime. “I just happened to be talking to him about how much I’d like to make a career out of transitions, but didn’t know exactly how,” remembered Dr. Clark. “He said, well, let’s give Chuck Cohen [Benco’s managing director] a call and see what he thinks. I left Chuck a message and wasn’t sure I’d hear back, but I did, and eventually he invited me to headquarters to talk.”
The family feeling Dr. Clark enjoyed as a customer was immediately apparent when he walked through Benco’s lobby doors for the first time. “It confirmed everything I always believed about Benco. This is not some stuffy corporate giant. You know right away this is a family company.” It so happened that, at the same time, a large public company was taking a bigger stake of the company Dr. Clark was working for, and he was concerned what direction they might take. “Everything just came together. Benco was the right place for me at the right time.”
In his talks with Benco, Dr. Clark was adamant that customers always have to come first—even if it means delaying a sale or commission. “Chuck and the Benco team were on the exact same page from the start,” he recalled. “We have ambitious goals for expanding our transitions offerings, but never at the expense of our relationships. Because, look, sometimes doctors may want to sell, but after talking to them, I find out they’re not ready. There are things they need to do first to maximize the practice’s value. That may mean delaying the sale a few months, a year, two years, whatever it takes. Benco understands that’s the right thing to do.”
As someone who has seen it all, Dr. Clark also believes there’s a very bright future for independent dental practices even as DSOs seem to be getting lots of attention. “I was part of a DSO at one point, and at Benco, we love all of our customers. There’s opportunity in the market for everyone,” he said. “Not every geographical area can support a DSO, and there’s also a limit to how many DSOs can compete in the same market, just like you can only have so many Target stores in one place. In the end, patients will gravitate to practices that meet their preferences. Some will gravitate to independent practices, others to DSOs. With social media and digital marketing tools, independent practices today have more ways than ever to compete with DSOs.”
So, what’s on the horizon for Dr. Clark as he settles into his new role at Benco?
“We’re making fast progress at expanding practicetransitions.benco.com to make it more like a dating site for connecting doctors with opportunities, whether it’s a job or a practice sale or purchase. I’m also establishing a larger network of brokers and evaluating those relationships to make sure, all across the U.S., we’re working with people who put clients first just like Benco always has.”
The road from Benco customer to Benco associate has been a satisfying one for Dr. Clark. Instead of mentoring one doctor at a time, he’s now working with people across the country and creating tools that will help hundreds or thousands of dentists every year. Still, he values that one-on-one connection and he stresses that he’s always available when customers want to talk.
“I love talking to dentists,” he said. “I also love creating value for Benco customers and putting everything I’ve learned over my decades in practice to work. If I can point someone in the right direction, or help them avoid a pitfall, that’s one of the most rewarding things about my job.”
Thinking about a dental transition?
As Dr. Clark says, it’s never too early—or too late—to talk about your next transition. You can contact him personally at email@example.com or leave a message at 1-800-GO-BENCO.
“Among the latest innovations: The use of digital scanners and 3-D printers to offer same-day crown replacements, smart toothbrushes that talk back to you via a phone app when you’ve missed an area while brushing, lasers that eliminate the need for an anesthetic, and digital tools that detect oral cancer.
Some of these advances had been around for a number of years but had not been widely adopted because of high equipment costs, lack of training or dentists who were more comfortable with older, traditional equipment.”
New York Times Contributor Janet Morrissey
It’s as though an explosion of advancement is occurring and dentists navigate an endless array of options swirling around them.
How can CAD/CAM dentistry benefit a patient — and a dental practice?
Computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) enhance the design and creation of dental restorations such as crowns, veneers, inlays, onlays and bridges from a single block of ceramic.
Time is a precious commodity, and with an entire chairside process that can be completed within a range from 40 minutes to 2.5 hours, CAD/CAM is an obvious answer.
With a conventional restoration, a temporary is placed inside a patient’s mouth for one to several weeks while the lab produces the restoration. After waiting one to several weeks, the patient returns to the office to have the temporary removed and the restoration bonded in place.
* CAD/CAM dentistry, or Chairside CAD/CAM, enables a clinician to design and create a restoration in less than an hour and bond it on the same day.
It all begins with a wand.
It takes approximately a minute and a half to capture a digital impression of prepared teeth. An impression of the teeth in the opposite arch takes just 45 seconds.
What drives the process? An intraoral scanner is used to capture a direct optical impression. The scanner projects a light source onto the area to be scanned. The images are captured by imaging sensors and are processed by scanning software, which then produces a 3D surface model.
Shown above, one example from Carestream Dental: the CS 3700.
Once a digital image is captured, a crown is virtually designed and directed to a dentist’s in-office milling machine or 3-D printer. The results are shown at top and above.
According to Formlabs.com:
“3D printing or additive manufacturing (AM) technologies create three-dimensional parts from computer-aided design (CAD) models by successively adding material layer by layer until physical part is created.
While 3D printing technologies have been around since the 1980s, recent advances in machinery, materials, and software have made 3D printing accessible to a wider range of businesses, enabling more and more companies to use tools previously limited to a few high-tech industries.”
Do you remember your middle school anatomy class? The endless evenings spent reading page after page about cells and skeletons was a timeless, yet boring, way to learn about our bodies.
The human muscular and central nervous systems were complex subjects I grappled to understand. I struggled to keep attention in class as my teacher presented slides featuring charts and diagrams of muscle groups and functions I could only abstractly and vaguely comprehend.
Dr. Melissa Ing, an associate professor in the Dept. of Comprehensive Care at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, employs a unique approach when she teaches. Dr. Ing (shown above, instructed a middle school student) manages, orchestrates and creates real-life scenarios about subjects related to health and dentistry through the Mini Medical School program she organized to teach middle school children at Boston’s Museum of Science.
“We teach kids the components of a blood vessel and have them build a vessel using different sized red buttons and white marshmallows to represent white blood cells. We teach them about dental forensics and how it can be used to solve a crime.”
Dr. Melissa Ing describes the lessons she teaches on STEM topics.
“Who Stole All the Toothbrushes?” is an activity where students use medical investigation techniques to solve a mystery. Students do more than listen to lectures; they are fully engaged and active participants in the program.
“We made little plots to go with it, and clues, so that the kids can try and learn about forensics. For instance, a fingerprint, a piece of hair, teeth marks, bite marks, saliva, a lip print on a glass…” says Dr. Ing.
She and her team use a problem-based approach and create situations that students must solve using appropriate medical techniques and procedures.
“Then, for the next module, a Good Samaritan passenger trips over a piece of luggage at the airport breaking his arm. We teach the kids how to cast a broken arm.”
Her students’ favorite lesson: one where they learn how to suture a wound. Of course, they don’t suture a real, live participant, instead they use bananas.
“The kids are given masks, gowns and gloves, so they have a great time as a doctor for the day. They sometimes can’t stop stitching the bananas and will name their bananas afterward, which is really funny.”
Students of Dr. Melissa Ing learn how to suture a wound using a banana as their patients.
Dr. Ing isn’t alone. She enlists a team of dental students and faculty members who help make the Mini Medical School possible.
In 2015, she started the program in Boston, but two years ago, she set sail and took the program to Nantucket Island Public Schools, a school district on an isolated island where students have limited resources to learn about STEM fields—which are occupations that encompass Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
The Mini Medical School operates on grant funding and the kindness of volunteers who help make it possible, although when she first visited the school district in 2017, the school didn’t have a grant to pay for the program. Luckily, the town helped the school secure the funds.
The following year, the Nantucket school district received a donation from Innovation Pathways, an award granted by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Education, that enabled Dr. Ing and her colleagues to visit a second time.
Dr. Ing draws on nearly 30 years of dental experience. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Western Ontario and a Doctor of Dental Medicine degree from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine.
After completing her studies, Dr. Ing built and operated her own private practice and taught at the University of Connecticut. Shortly after, she became a full-time employee at UConn, where she held various positions, such as Team Leader and Director of Predoctoral Clinics. After 20 years there, she secured an associate professor position at her alma mater—Tufts University—and began teaching in 2011.
What’s next for Dr. Melissa Ing’s Mini Medical School?
The program will continue at Boston’s Museum of Science. Through grant funding, Dr. Ing and her team hope to return to Nantucket for a third year. She plans to visit Martha’s Vineyard for the first time as well, where students await the opportunity to suture bananas and learn about dental and medical professions.
STEM fields have grown to 17.3 million jobs or 79 percent since 1990, according to the Pew Research Center. Dr. Ing and her Mini Medical School are helping inspire the scientist, physicians and dentists of tomorrow.
Last year, the nation’s largest family-owned dental distributor presented Keep A Breast Foundation with a check for $24,516.
How is Keep A Breast making a difference?
They’ve created the Check Your Self app, free, with over 67,000 downloads and counting.
According to their website, here’s what you can expect:
Step-by-step self-check instructions including animated gifs (artwork by Sandi Calisto)
Schedule an automatic monthly reminder
Breast health information
In-app sharing tools
Available in 6 languages (more to come!)
Early detection is the key and knowing what is “normal” for your body is an integral part of that. We developed our Check Yourself! App to do just that: help young women all over the world to develop a healthy life-long relationship with their bodies. By checking yourself once a month, you are able to detect abnormalities at the first sign of change.
We wanted to create something to support women all over their world and assist in their access to healthcare, literally putting lifesaving information in the palm of their hand: give them a step-by-step guide, tips, information, and automatic scheduling in order to make it as simple and accessible as possible. That way, people would be most likely to really carry out a self-check routine.
During October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a number of brands join in this effort to raise funds and awareness. Keep A Breast features a gift guide almost 40 products ranging from surf fins to nursing pads. Visit their site to view apparel, beauty products and so many unique items that support Keep A Breast with your purchase.
Check out the Keep A Breast Gift Guide: click here.