Creating a Respectful Work Environment

Respect is part of the glue that holds your dental practice team together, and if your team isn’t feeling respected by their employer, it’s likely that they won’t be dishing it out, either. Let’s take a look at why respect is such an important core value in your practice and how you can cultivate it.

Respect Starts With You

Respect starts at the top, and the best way to earn an employee’s respect is to pay it forward. As a practice owner, you get to make most of the rules, as well as set the stage in terms of the conduct you want your employees to follow in your practice.

Choose your language wisely; encouraging and honest talk is more successful than implementing autocratic policies that don’t give staff members a voice. Make an open space for discussions and let your staff know that you welcome their suggestions about making the practice a more productive space. Be explicit with each staff member about what is required by them in terms of key performance areas.

Hold regular performance reviews where you give positive feedback on successes and suggestions for improvement in areas of weakness. Recognize and reward good accomplishments and encourage your staff to keep raising the bar.

Watch your mood. It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day stressors of running a practice or to be distracted by what the day holds. Work to stay positive and it will trickle down to your employees too. 

Respect Is Nurtured

Employees who feel respected will treat others with respect, resulting in a comfortable environment for everyone. Your management style will permeate every department, so a respectful tone will benefit and rub off on everyone who works with you.

Respecting Patients 

If your receptionist is stressed out, or your dental nurse is undervalued and overworked, your patients will feel the brunt of it. Your patients do not want to visit a practice where they feel like a number, or where making an appointment is a major effort on behalf of the receptionist. If patients are treated with respect and gratitude, they will feel the intent.

Respect for patients extends to those in the waiting room and those on the telephone, and even though the patient standing in front of the receptionist should always take priority, the way you handle your telephonic inquiries says a lot to the patients sitting in your waiting room.

Express Gratitude

Gratitude goes a long way in conveying and cultivating respect. Thank every staff member and every patient when you have the chance. You can never thank someone too much; those two words will make a major difference in the lives of everyone you meet.

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Maintaining a Healthy Work-Life Balance for Dental Professionals

There’s a lot more to life than dentistry. Even though your profession may take up most of your time, it’s important to note that sustained, long term stress is bad for your health and your personal life. Making small changes now can lead to a better experience and a healthier work/life balance.

If you’re a hard-working dentist who’s used to burning the candle at both ends, just how do you take a break and get away from it all?

Figure Out What You Enjoy

If this is the first time you’ve heard about the importance of maintaining a work/life balance, chances are you might need to spend a little extra time figuring out what drives you. What do you enjoy doing? What relaxes you? This is the first step to planning the life you want to live.

Whether you need to start a new hobby or rekindle a leisurely past time you haven’t explored in a while, make the time and space for it in your schedule.

Start off by introducing your hobbies or interests two to three times a week. Whether it’s going to the gym, spending time with friends, or booking a date night, give yourself a chance to make time for your interests outside of your practice.

Plan Your Vacations in Advance

Yes, you read that right. As well as giving you something to look forward to in the year ahead, booking your vacations in advance ensure that you will actually go. If you wait around for your schedule to clear, you’ll never get away. Your vacation days will pile up, get dusty, and your work and home life will suffer.

The good news is that studies show it doesn’t matter if you go away for six long weekends or one two day break, it’s getting away that will make the biggest difference to your body, mind, and soul.

Innovate Better

Don’t have an extra four hours a week to lead a balanced life? Optimize your time better. What does that mean? Well, if riding your bike just can’t fit into your schedule, consider riding to work. Or, get an exercise bike to use at home while you watch your favorite TV show. Sure, you might not be training for a triathlon this year, but it’s infinitely better than doing nothing at all.

Open Your Mind

Don’t have hobbies or interests? Not interested in anything other than your profession? Don’t worry, here are some ideas just for you:

Travel more. Travel has unintended benefits for dental professionals. Because we work in a multicultural society any kind of travel or learning about other cultures offers a beneficial experience.

Listen to music or better yet, learn to play music. Why? Well music has been proven to improve sequential skills development and memory.

Art and drawing have been shown to improve memory, concentration, and attention to detail.

Playing sports is physically beneficial in terms of stress management and can also improve hand eye coordination. There’s also a recreational and social element if you choose to participate in extracurricular activities with friends or colleagues.

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Four Ways Dental Professionals Can Give Back to Their Communities

Giving back to your community is an extremely gratifying concept and something that can assist you in building your reputation as an ethical dental professional. While some professionals prefer to give monetary donations, others would rather give of their time. We have compiled a few ideas to help you with your community giving initiatives.

  1. Volunteer Your Time

Giving of your time is an extremely noble action, and there are many organizations and charities in need of physical help from passionate and qualified professionals. You could give a quick talk at a local school to parents and students about the importance of looking after your teeth from a young age, or you could consider donating time or funds to one of the following organizations:

Missions of Mercy

Missions of Mercy holds events in conjunction with America’s Dentists Care Foundation and offers dental services such as cleaning, extractions and fillings.

Donated Dental Services (DDS)

Through the DDS you can help some of the community’s neediest individuals.

Give Kids A Smile

Give Kids A Smile provides free dental care to children who come from low-income households completing important work in terms of restorative and preventive care.

  1. Hold an Open Day

Consider having an open day at your practice where you invite people to attend a talk about something you feel is important to the community and your patients. Or, consider offering free screenings for oral cancer. There are many people who can’t afford a screening but fall into the high-risk category because they smoke or chew tobacco.

  1. Donate Money or Supplies

There are many worthy causes that need donations of basic dental services and supplies to people who cannot afford it. Consider donating toothpaste samples, toothbrushes and mouth rinse  to a local shelter or one of the following organizations:

Healthy Smiles Healthy Children

This organization helps prevent the development of cavities in young children whose parents cannot afford dental care.

American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry Charitable Foundation

The AACDCF also does important work in restoring the smiles of those who are affected by domestic violence. Through their free service offering, they have also assisted thousands of people to rebuild their self-confidence.

  1. Offer Your Own Services at a Discounted Rate

There are still many people who cannot afford dental insurance. If you can’t make the time to support a charity, consider offering a discounted rate to people from low- income households, pensioners or young children.

The upcoming holidays are a great time to focus your energy on giving back to your community. Whether you choose to donate time, money, supplies or services to those in need, your efforts will be appreciated by those in your community.

The NAPB specializes in bringing dental practice buyers and sellers together. For expert advice on how your dental practice can positively impact your community, feel free to contact us.

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Preparing Your Dental Practice for Seasonal Ups and Downs

Like any other business, dental practices experience seasonal ups and downs. The good news is that there are plenty of things you can do to keep yourself busy during the slow seasons in preparation for a successful 2017.

  1. Take A Vacation

Practicing self-care isn’t just about eating right and getting enough sleep. Allowing yourself to take some time off when dental appointments slow down can help you reduce your stress levels. Allow yourself to take a vacation when times are quiet. This is preferable to planning something over the holidays or summer break, which are typically busy months because children are out of school.

Taking a vacation will also recharge your batteries and help you prepare for a busy year ahead.

  1. Remodel or Redecorate

If you wanted to repaint the inside of your practice, have new floors put in or remodel your waiting room, the slow seasons are a great time to renovate or refresh your office. In fact, even if you don’t have plans to do any major renovations, it would be wise to give your practice a decent deep clean while business is slow.

  1. Start Canvassing for New Patients

If you have a marketing plan to get new patients for 2017, the end of 2016 is an even better time to start. Create your marketing pitch and strategy to gain new patients. What activities can you plan month-to-month to keep your practice active and visible in your marketing channels of choice?

Social media is an excellent tool for getting the word out about your services. We recommend actively utilizing any of the popular social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn) to connect with potential patients, colleagues and influencers in your community.

  1. Focus on Your Strengths

How can you differentiate yourself from your competition? What are your strengths as a dental professional? What do your patients need? What qualities does your practice have that differentiate you from your competitors?

Focus your 2017 marketing budget on the services that drive your practice and send your patients a clear message that your office out-performs the competition.

  1. Increase Bridge and Crown Production

Research shows that December, January and February are the busiest times for dental practices, in terms of bridges and crowns. This is because most people want to use up their dental insurance before the new cycle kicks in. Make sure your office is well-equipped to handle the rush of procedures that increase during the busier times of the year.

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dental-practice-broker-napb-4-tips-for-dentists-managing-neck-and-back-pain Source: Flickr CC, Credit: George Gertner

4 Tips for Dentists: Managing Neck and Back Pain

Back and neck pain are unfortunately very common problems among dentists.

In fact, it’s often said that finding someone who has a long history of practicing dentistry without these types of issues, is very rare.

Some dentists have found the pain to be so unbearable that they’ve had to sell their practice or go through a transition in which their role fundamentally changes to one that is more managerial or administrative.

Here are 4 ways to manage back and neck pain as a dentist.

  1. Choose the right dental chair

Finding the right dental chair is an incredibly important decision. You need to consider the fact that spending hundreds or thousands of hours in your chair has a significant impact on your posture.

This means that ensuring that you do some research and have the right chair – even if it costs a little more – could save you a lot of pain, time, and money spent further down the line on medical treatments.

  1. See a chiropractor or physical therapist regularly

Most people only consider seeing a chiropractor once the pain they are experiencing is unbearable, and only until the immediate sensations go away. The reality, however, is that you should be seeing a chiropractor regularly, particularly if you are spending long hours in an examination chair.

Learning proper posture and work habits can really only go so far, therefore it’s important to have a professional look at your spine frequently. If you aren’t interested in a chiropractor, there are other physical therapies such as pilates, which can go a long way to helping you.

  1. Exercise the right way

Most people consider exercise simply as something that improves your strength or cardiovascular endurance. However, while these are important, for a dentist they are not the first things to consider.

Focus on functional strength, balance, and proper posture. This can be difficult for those who have spent most of their sporting lives engaged in more competitive or aggressive forms of exercise. However, yoga or Pilates are great places to start to reduce, and even eliminate, back and neck pain.

  1. Use a foam roller or stability ball

Self-myofascial stretching is a type of exercise that uses a foam roller or medicine ball, and your own weight, to stretch tendons and release pain. There are dozens of guides online, and it’s important that you use these techniques as a preventative measure, not just to relieve pain once it is already present.

Remember, spinal health is important to your vitality, and as a result, the life of your practice.

If you’re experiencing too much pain to work, or you are simply sluggish and less effective, it can negatively impact the profitability and value of your office.

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Why Dentists Need Time Off

Stress is a major component of being a dentist, both physically and emotionally. So, if you want to continue to offer your patients the highest level of care you are capable of, you do need to look after yourself.

The Physical Stress

Stress-related cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of dentists. But why are we so stressed out? As dentists, we spend the majority of our time in small spaces, where we are required to concentrate heavily and perform extremely detailed work. Most of the time, we stand still, putting a strain on the circulatory system, causing back and eye strain.

Research has also revealed that dentists do not exercise enough, either, and certainly not enough to counteract circulatory, muscle, and connective tissue deterioration.

Getting at least 30 minutes of exercise daily might not be possible with your schedule, but try to at least take a few laps around the parking lot, or walk down to the nearest sandwich shop for lunch—find creative ways to add a little movement to your day.

The Emotional Stress

Many dentists do not have a team to collaborate and share our problems with. Additionally, dentists are considered to be highly competitive with one another, making it less likely that we will go out of our way to seek that second or third opinion.

Dentists are also categorically perfectionist and pedantic in nature, which can lead to frustration and discontent with one’s performance. If feelings of inadequacy arise, or if you feel any overwhelming negative emotions, it is important to take the time to speak with another person—professional or otherwise, whether that be a life coach or a close friend.

The Professional Stress

Good dentists propose the ideal treatment for their patients. But unfortunately, the fulfillment of this ideal does not lie solely in the hands of the dentist. Poor patient education or inadequate funds often get in the way of the ideal treatment plan being followed, leading to professional stress and frustration.

So what can you do?

The good news is that there are management methods you can put in place to minimize stress exposure and encourage balance.

  1. Get daily exercise. If you can’t get to the gym or don’t want to put on your running shoes, try to go for a walk every day.
  2. Watch the clock. Don’t allow yourself to work after hours consistently. Take time off.
  3. Reach out. If you aren’t interested in talking to colleagues, find someone to talk to like a psychologist, a mentor, a close friend, and make a point of doing it regularly.
  4. Schedule regular time off. It doesn’t have to be extravagant or extended, just regular. Optimize the experience by switching off from the world completely for short intervals.
  5. Ease patient anxiety. Put a plan in place to reduce patient anxiety in your practice. Reconsider the patient experience and find innovative ways to help them relax. It will benefit everyone.

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Self-Care for Dentists

Being a dentist can be one of the most stressful occupations that one can have. Between the physical demands of the job, the attention to detail that must be performed with each procedure, dealing with patients that are nervous or upset, and trying to run a business, it’s easy to see where the stress could come from.

Knowing the demands of the job and understanding the impact that stress can have on your overall health, it’s important that you are aware of and maintain not only your physical health but your emotional and mental health, as well.

One of the keys to reducing your stress level is to find a healthy work-life balance. It’s something that you will need to be intentional about as you plan your days and weeks.

Here are several ways to practice self-care:

  1. Get some form of physical exercise a minimum of three days a week. Exercise will not only have a positive impact on your physical health, but it will help you de-stress and increase endorphins, making you happier during your working hours. Find something you enjoy doing so it doesn’t seem like a chore.
  2. Do something fun on the weekends. Take note of the things that you enjoy doing. Whether it’s arts and crafts, hiking, boating, or entertaining, make it a point to try to include some time devoted to this on your weekends off.
  3. Carve out social time. It’s important that you spend time around people that make you happy and that you don’t feel a need to discuss work related matters with.
  4. Make sure you have good professional support. Whether it’s an organization devoted to working with dentists or a network of other dental professionals in the area, it’s important to have a personal network that you can turn to that fully understands what your day to day life is like.
  5. Keep a journal. Journal keeping encourages you to be more aware of your thoughts and feelings and can help you solve problems.

Making self-care a priority can be a challenge if it’s something you haven’t done before, but you will see results very quickly if you implement even just one or two of the above ideas.

Here is a great resource the: Self Care for Dentists Booklet developed by New Zealand Dental Association.

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3 Tips to Keep In Mind To Maintain Longevity Throughout A Dental Career

Starting in the field of dentistry it can be a new and exciting challenge.

Sometimes, however, as time goes by, obstacles may arise that sway our capacities and our motivation. As human beings we crave novelty, and doing the same job day in day out for many years can become challenging.

To make sure you maintain a long and profitable practice you will want to keep a few things in mind. These are equally relevant for young dentists who may be passing through the honeymoon phase of their new career and older ones who are looking to reignite their interest.

Here are 3 tips to consider in order to maintain longevity throughout a dental career:

  1. Keep yourself in good physical health.

One problem with healthcare professionals is that they often don’t practice what they preach. For example, I’ve known a large number of dentists and doctors who smoke cigarettes – despite knowing better than anyone the health risks. But this doesn’t mean they are immune to the laws of nature.

The health of a dentist is incredibly important when it comes to career longevity. Being stuck in the same static positions all day for years can do a lot of damage to your neck and back – typically resulting in a poor posture.

It’s important that dentists take up some form of physical exercise, whether it is simply running or swimming, or a practice that improves flexibility and stability such as Yoga or Pilates can help make a difference in their health.

You may also want to consider periodically visiting a chiropractor if you’re experiencing any kind of pain.

  1. Stay interested in the practice of dentistry

Generally, the more you know about a topic; the more it interests you. Unfortunately, as dentists who have worked in the industry for many years will attest, at a certain point everything starts to get a little repetitive. There are only so many filings, root canals and check ups you can do before you start to lose the spark you once had.

Keep on top of industry news, such as updates in technology and legislation, so you’re coming across some of the more fluid and interesting aspects of dentistry.

  1. Find new challenges

When something becomes too easy for us, it is inevitable that we will eventually find it boring. Try to find new ways to challenge yourself whether that is in the procedures or the practice itself.

You can always experiment with marketing and other areas of running your business. If you’re doing well financially but are relatively bored, you may want to hire new staff or try utilizing social media to increase your presence in the community.  This may also help to maximize the value of your practice by bringing in new patients.

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5 Stress Management Techniques for Dentists

If you are going through a dental practice transition and you’re looking to sell your practice, it can be a stressful time.

Before we delve into some techniques to deal with stress, it’s important to highlight that there are two types of stress to consider.

The first type is acute stress, which is immediate and sudden stress that happens as a result of environmental stimuli – one example may be if you double book two important patients and they show up at the same time.

The second is chronic stress which happens over a longer period of time. This can be a result of a difficult home or work environment, and when left unchecked can lead to general anxiety and health issues.

Because these two types of stress are intertwined, it’s important to attack both of them simultaneously. Here we present 5 tactics to deal with both acute and chronic stress. It’s recommended that you try to incorporate one or more of these techniques into your lifestyle if you have the time.

Time management

This is the first thing you want to do to minimize stress. Often stress is just a result of our brain feeling overwhelmed because of our inability to deal with all the tasks we have in front of us.

Try to make sure you have everything handled by having a system in place and hiring a competent administrative assistant – they’re worth their weight in gold. If the operations aren’t running smoothly you’re never going to be able to perform at your best, your practice is going to suffer, and you’re going to feel stressed as a result.

Train your relaxation response

The relaxation response was given its name in the 1970s by Herbert Benson, M.D, but variations of the technique have existed for thousands of years. It is essentially is a state of rest that changes your physiological and emotional response to stress – it is the opposite of the flight-or-fight response.

This involves regularly practicing activating your parasympathetic nervous system by taking deep breaths and focusing on a mantra. If you’d like to learn more you can find a quick tutorial here, or check out Benson’s books of the same name.

Take Care of Your nutrition

Nutrition is vital in minimizing stress. Without proper nutrition, your immune system will almost constantly be compromised and you will be far more likely to succumb to external stressors.

Likewise, with a balanced diet you will have the necessary energy to power through your days and not have to rely heavily on caffeine or other stimulants which can promote feast-and-famine energy cycles and chronically elevated cortisol levels.

Practice Regular Meditation          

Consistent meditation over a longer period of time has a number of benefits from improving immune function to decreasing anxiety, increasing feelings of joy, and improving focus – all of which contribute to the lowering of both acute and chronic stress levels.

We encourage you to start with 10-20 minutes a day and commit to the practice daily if you want to see real benefits.

Spend Time in Nature

If you spend the majority of your time between home and work it’s no wonder that you may be experiencing stress.

Our bodies crave nature; the smells, sights and sounds, and the feeling of freedom we get when we are in wide open spaces. Try to make an effort to spend time in nature away from the city at least once a month, preferably once a week if possible. You’ll see a huge difference in how you feel in both your home and work lives.

Selling your dental practice can be stressful. Make sure you include some form of stress management techniques in your day to day life to ensure that your health stays strong and you continue to enjoy your life despite any changes and challenges.

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How Can Pilates and Yoga Help Dental Professionals?

For many of us, it’s common to feel like we aren’t getting enough exercise or movement in our day to day lives.

Jobs such as dentistry that require frequent sitting all day can actually be a lot more physically exhausting than those in which you are on the move. In fact, studies are revealing the true impact that sitting is having on our bodies and health – some are even starting to call sitting the new smoking.

Combine this with the stress of long days, consistently keeping clients in the office, and even the added pressure of selling a practice, and what you have is a recipe for disaster.

As a dentist, you need a solution that can offer noticeable benefits without the need to spend hours a day or a commute in order to practice. It is also preferable that it is something that can be performed at work.

Enter Yoga and Pilates.

Yoga is an ancient Indian exercise that dates back to 500 BC while Pilates was developed in the early 20th century. Both focus on eliminating muscular imbalances and improving physical health.

The major difference between the two is that yoga has a larger focus on the spiritual aspect of the exercise. If you are open to the idea of spirituality, then you might find a greater psychological benefit from doing yoga, however if that isn’t your cup of tea, you’ll probably find that Pilates resonates more with you.

If you are looking for an introduction to Yoga or Pilates, a simple Google search will reveal a number of studios in your area. However if you’d prefer to just learn at home, Do Yoga With Me offers a number of free and paid online Yoga and Pilates classes to get you started.

Here are some of the ways in which Pilates and Yoga can help dental professionals.

Relieve stress. When we work long hours in a closed environment it is inevitable that we will end up accumulating stress. Yoga and Pilates are great ways to relieve that stress either before, after, or during work.

Improved flexibility and posture. Spending all day at a desk inevitably damages your posture and limits your flexibility. Consistent daily stretches lengthen the muscles and help you to become more flexible, improving your posture in the process.

Improve vitality. At the end of the day when your muscles would have usually been tired, the endurance that you will have as a result of the core strength you’ve gained from these practices will mean that you will have more energy.

Slows the aging process. A new study has suggested that yoga can actually slow the aging process by increasing two key hormones linked to longevity – Growth Hormone (GH) and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEAS). When we age we tend to lose these biochemical, and men, in particular, can see significant benefits by ensuring their balance.

If you’re working long hours, or maybe even in the process of a dental transition, you’re probably feeling stressed. Consider yoga and Pilates as a natural way to improve health, vitality and your performance at work.

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