Avoid running a unsustainable dental practice

Dentists love to be in control.

I am a trained dentist myself. I have been practising dentistry for 18 years and know the feeling of having to know every detail of my business. The challenge is that the desire for control often gets in the way of the desired goals of the practice.

This blog post is about how you can achieve more freedom, less stress and higher profitability by working with the feeling of control.

Female hand holding a reminder with the text: "Don't forget"

Inhuman working conditions

Over the past few weeks, I have helped dental practices in 4 different countries find ways to optimise their practices. Here I was reminded of how we as practice owners and general dentists, time and time again get placed in a hamster wheel that just goes round faster without us moving forward.

People with no relationship to the dental industry who are introduced to the way we work describe the typical working conditions in a dental office as inhumane. The workload is simply so extreme and persistent that it causes head shaking.

Healthcare has a "zero error culture", our work processes require an extreme degree of precision. All procedures are so time-optimised that even 3 minutes of delay can haunt us for hours. Just as we have virtually no time to exhale or recover mentally during a working day. This is crazy!

Just imagine how it feels when the dental assistant has to go and get some missing materials or instruments for the third time in one morning.

The pressure on dentists

Although all professionals in a dental practice work under extreme pressure, dentists are often the hardest hit. Not because we do most of the work in the office, or because we carry all the responsibility, but because we never take time off.

When dentists are not sitting at the dental chair, we are reading professional literature, taking courses, preparing treatment plans, filling out insurance paperwork, talking to sales reps or other colleagues about teeth, thinking about teeth and the responsibilities associated with treating teeth.... More of us are dreaming about teeth!

This extreme and persistent mental pressure takes the focus off the dental practice as a business. It becomes a workplace where we exchange hours for money (also called salary). We work and work and work.... With everything that is right in front of us. It takes the focus away from our management tasks and therefore we loose track the practice as a business.

Practice management

As leaders, our job is to complete tasks and achieve goals through others.

This means that we must constantly ask ourselves the question: "Does it m