Gerard Kugel, DMD, MS, PhD, is the associate dean for research at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, and has a private practice in Boston, Massachusetts.
Question: As a dentist, explain the value of four-handed dentistry.
Answer: I don’t understand how dentists can work without doing four-handed dentistry. I have extremely competent dental assistants in my office. They anticipate my needs, they anticipate the procedures we’re doing, so when I work, sometimes I don’t even have to look up. They know what instruments to hand me. They have everything set up. It makes me efficient. It makes me much more profitable. In some cases, it’s really almost like having another dentist in the office in terms of what they’re capable of doing. Really, if you’ve got a good assistant, four-handed dentistry just makes your life so much more pleasant. I’m amazed when I go to dental offices and there are dentists working by themselves. I think they’re at a disadvantage without an assistant chairside.
Question: Can you elaborate on how your assistants anticipate your needs?
Answer: We’ve worked together enough and we educate them. They’ve taken our classes, so when I’m doing a bonding procedure, for example, they know when I’m going to need the etch and the bonding agent, they know what I need to isolate, they know what instruments I’m going to need based on the type of composite I’m doing. So instead of having to stop and ask for things or stop and wait for an assistant to get stuff, if you’ve got a good assistant the procedure just flows. I think that any good practice has to have good assistants or it just can’t be a great practice.