How to Revamp your Dental Practice in the New Year

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A fresh calendar change on New Year’s Day can bring promise of new habits, new plans, new dreams and a new outlook on our lives.

However, these new goals can easily fall to the wayside not long after being made when we revert to our old ways, using the same pathways of thought because they’re so familiar to us, so convenient to our thinking process.

Whether in your personal or professional life, the key to making—and keeping—actionable resolutions is to start with small, manageable changes. And, if you’re looking to make changes to your dental practice in the new year, here are some perfect ways for you to begin.

Practice-wide changes

1. Enhance patient care through communication. Patients know you, as the dentist or hygienist, have the skills and competence to get procedures done, but no matter your expertise, some patients may be less at ease than others. Refocus your efforts on chairside manners and create a relationship with each patient by genuinely asking about their lives, and making notes so you can refer to these insights next time you see them.

2. Organize your exam rooms. Exam rooms typically store a variety of items, such as exam gloves, face masks, tissues, paper towels, etc. The last thing you want when seeing a patient is the inability to find the supplies you need. Placing supplies in trays, tubs, drawers or other containers will keep the items inside the dispensers organized and easily accessible. Plus, keeping everything within arm’s reach will increase efficiency both during an examination and while cleaning a room between patients.

You can also increase the effectiveness of each relationship by considering these chairside manners each time you see a patient: be empathetic, speak in laymen’s terms, listen to your patient’s goals and concerns, use humor when appropriate and maintain eye-contact.

3. Utilize your existing resources. One of the simplest, easiest things you can do to affect change in the new year is to start with what you already have. Being resourceful requires a minimal amount of effort, time and money, and can give your practice exactly the boost it needs.

Start by cleaning out your backroom—you may uncover unused supplies! Taking note of the materials you already have at your disposal will help you make smarter purchasing decisions in the future and likely cut down your operational costs. After this initial cleaning, be sure to create an inventory system to keep track of supplies as the year progresses.

If you work in a system of affiliated dental practices, you can also reach out to your fellow colleagues when you are in need. Another practice may have extra products or supplies, eliminating your need to order more.

4. Consider affiliating with a Dental Service Organization (DSO). The owners of private practices are responsible for the operational tasks of running a business while still balancing the load of treating patients. But, when you work with a DSO, all of the administrative hassles, from taxes to payroll, come off your plate, and you can dedicate your time to your true passion—patient care. A DSO will provide the necessary resources you need to be successful, all while keeping your autonomy intact, allowing you to remain the overarching decision maker on anything related to your practice.

Personal changes

1. Build your network. When you build a network of professionals in the dental industry, there is always someone to turn to for advice or inspiration, whether it be someone more experienced in your direct line of work or someone in an entirely different specialty. Plus, this network can be full of people who can act as catalysts to help fuel personal development. Attending industry events, joining dental-related associations and reaching out to colleagues in your affiliated practices or larger dental organization are all perfect ways to meet others in the field.

2. Pursue continued education. What will keep you ahead in the field is the motivation to continually learn, advance and stay abreast of what’s happening in the industry. Continued education classes are a great way to do just that. The new information you learn can help you have immediate impact on your ability to treat patients, grow your practice, and meet like-minded individuals, all while helping you meet state licensure requirements. Continued education opportunities come in many forms, allowing you to find the program that works with your lifestyle. Plus, many DSOs, like DentalOne Partners, provide opportunities for dental professionals to receive continued education at no cost!

Making resolutions can be overwhelming and difficult to maintain. But, if you start with small, manageable changes, you can forge new paths of thought, sparking new synapses in your mind that bring greater success.

So, this year, if you recognize even one way to start revamping your practice, January will become far more than just the month you changed your calendar.

Written by: Dr. Cindy Roark, Chief Clinical Officer at DentalOne Partners. 

Dr. Roark, who serves as Senior Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer at DentalOne Partners, is responsible for overall clinical leadership, including enterprise-wide clinical strategic planning, developing and improving clinical protocols, researching new technologies and services, overseeing quality assurance, and providing professional development opportunities to clinical team members. She brings more than 18 years of private practice, non-profit, and DSO experience to DentalOne. Dr. Roark received a Master of Science in Health Care Management from Harvard University and earned her D.M.D. Magna Cum Laude from the Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine at Boston University. To read other article by Dr. Roark, visit

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