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April 2024
Volume 45, Issue 4

Four Inconsistencies That Hinder Practice-Building

Carrie Webber

Sometimes a dental practice finds itself stuck and unable to leap into its next phase of success. Inconsistencies throughout the practice may be holding it back. This article identifies four common inconsistencies found in dental practices that impede their ability to grow, and how to overcome them.

1. Inconsistent Scheduling and Prioritization of Time. This inconsistency can be broken down in several ways. First, patient scheduling should consistently allow time for effective patient communication and education, which aids in patient loyalty and treatment acceptance; ample time should be set aside to present the treatment plan and financing options to patients. Second, an adequate amount of time needs to be allotted when implementing new procedures or technology; inaccurate and unrealistic blocks of time scheduled in these instances can lead to the practice running behind schedule or using the technology ineffectively or not at all. Third, the practice schedule should incorporate time for efficient team meetings, productive daily huddles, and team connection for further development and growth.

Practice owners make many financial investments for the sake of their practice, such as equipment, technology, furnishings, and more. Perhaps the best investment they can make is that of time-time spent working with their team on the business. Building sufficient time into the schedule to run the business properly should not be sacrificed for the sake of immediate production gratification. A dental career is a marathon, not a sprint. Dentists should focus on these key areas that will lead to more success in the long run.

2. Inconsistent Use of Photography, Intraoral Cameras, and Scanners. Studies have shown that 65% of the general population consider themselves to be visual learners.1 Thus, it would seem that with a bevy of digital visual aids available, dental practices should prioritize the consistent use of photographs and images for the benefit of patient education, treatment acceptance, and patient loyalty, as well as a means to elevate team performance. Intraoral cameras should be used in every operatory at every patient appointment.

To help the team become more competent at taking these photographs and/or scans, the practice might schedule a representative from its camera or scanner company to come to the office and train employees on how to better utilize the equipment and maximize image-taking. Images can be a powerful teaching tool and critical to taking the practice to the next level of its growth.

3. Inconsistent Communication With Patients.Besides visual aids, verbal skills are also a key difference-maker in case acceptance. The team's ability and confidence in communicating with and educating patients on the treatment at hand is vital to patients trusting both the practice and the treatment being recommended.

Good communication comprises a healthy combination of actively listening to a patient's needs, effectively communicating with the patient (both verbally and, if applicable, visually), and ultimately partnering together for the patient's overall health and well-being. The team should periodically role-play, taking on the most common and uncomfortable obstacles they hear or face when communicating with patients. Such role-playing can ultimately help the team when they are in real-life situations with patients who are facing decisions about treatment acceptance. The team should be committed to working together to improve their communication skills collectively and building the practice one healthy relationship at a time.

Additionally, such tools as patient communication software, social media, and the practice's website are often grossly underutilized by many practices. Again, it is important to prioritize the time, effort, energy, and perhaps investment needed to make these tools work more effectively for the practice.

4. Inconsistent and Broken Communication Among the Team.Having a healthy work environment helps attract and maintain an amazing team so that practice owners can in turn create a team of leaders to help build the practice of their dreams.2 Disruption, disharmony, and disconnect among team members, however, can poison the culture of a dental practice, and patients can usually sense it. The leaders of the practice, starting with the dentist, must set the standards on what is expected and acceptable, and what is not, and hold others accountable. Healthy communication among the team can create extraordinary customer service for the patients, and in today's competitive dental world, providing a great patient experience is the best form of practice-building.

About the Author

Carrie Webber
Owner and Chief Communications Officer,
The Jameson Group (, a dental management, marketing, and hygiene coaching firm


1. Jawed S, Amin HU, Malik AS, Faye I. Classification of visual and non-visual learners using electroencephalographic alpha and gamma activities. Front Behav Neurosci. 2019;13:86.

2. Jameson C. Creating A Healthy Work Environment. Bloomington, IN: Hay House Publishing; 2016.

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