Habit #7 of Highly Effective Dentists: Sharpen Your Explorer!

Sharpen Explorer-Dull-Blog-1In Stephen Covey’s seminal book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” the seventh habit is described as “Sharpen the Saw.”  In the book, “sharpen the saw” is a metaphor for self-improvement.  In the case of your professional development, and specifically in dentistry, it could be interpreted as improving your clinical skills or knowledge.  Taken more literally, if you’re a carpenter or lumberjack, it could mean… well… literally sharpening your saw.  Sharpening your saw, means you’ll make more efficient and more precise cuts.  That not only improves your results, it could increase your productivity / income.

Today, I’m going to take this same concept in the literal sense… for dentistry.  Dentists rightfully love to invest in gizmos that help them improve quality of care, outcomes, efficiency, and profitability.  But, when was the last time you sharpened your explorers?  I mean that literally.  When did you last take your explorers and make the pointy ends “pointier?”

Forgive me Dr. G.V. Black…

Speaking for myself, I have to admit Continue reading

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Don’t Just Answer the Question.

answer-the-question-6We all get phone calls and emails from prospective patients looking for a new dentist.  Very often the only question these prospects ask is, “How much is ________ (a cleaning, a crown, an extraction, etc.).”  Another common question is, “Do you take my insurance / discount plan?”

As a private care dentist, I reflexively cringe when I get these questions.  Why?  Because the answer to the question is likely not what the prospective patient wants to hear.  My fees are not “cheap.”  If they’re asking about “price,” then that’s all they care about, right?  Maybe.

If they ask about an insurance plan (I don’t participate in any as a contracted provider), then all they care about is that, right?  Maybe.

Answer the ****ing question!

Oftentimes, it is all they care about.  But, it’s not necessarily the case.  I have heard all the practice management experts suggest that prospects ask those two questions, because it’s all they know to ask.  And, I think that’s true.  BUT…  Continue reading

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Easter Sunday Emergency Patient – my own son.

You can't really see it here, but #8 is gone.

You can’t really see it here, but #8 is gone.

My son is now fourteen years old, almost fifteen, and in ninth grade.  Back in fourth grade, his class was doing a “square dance.”  My son fell down, face-down on the floor.  Another kid fell on top of his head, smashing his teeth into the floor.  He was in braces at the time, and his two central incisors were significantly intruded.  He was rushed to the pediatric dentist, who happened to be across the street from his school.  She repositioned the teeth and the orthodontist (next door) fixated them using the brackets still attached.  I was upset, and my wife wondered why.  I knew what was to come.

Endodontic treatment was later done on one of the central incisors.  Not long after that, we noticed external root resorption occurring in the cervical region.  My endodontist conferred with a respected professor where he did his residency.  The conclusion was that nothing could be done about the resorption, and that we’d likely lose the teeth at some point.  I hoped we’d have some time… a lot of time.

Over time, it was also apparent that the teeth had ankylosed.  As the rest of him grew, the central incisors did not go with the rest of the crowd.  For cosmetic reasons, I did some bonding to lengthen the centrals.

Ankylosed centrals resulted in a reverse smile line. Corrected with composite bonding.

Ankylosed centrals resulted in a reverse smile line. Corrected with composite bonding.  This was 2 years ago.

Time.. ticking away with my sanity, hard to believe such a calamity

Time’s up!  We got almost five years.  My son came to me late Saturday night, “I was biting into a cheese stick and my tooth broke.”  The entire crown of tooth #8 (the one that was RCT’ed) was mobile and still attached at the gingiva.  I broke into a cold sweat.  Continue reading

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Be a Puerto Rican Cowboy!

Say whaaaa?  It’s been a good while since I’ve written.  I’ve been rather distracted and uninspired.  I’ve also been busy with “life,” not the least of which is dealing with my daughter’s leukemia diagnosis and treatment.  I’m also a busy hockey dad.

Two nights ago, my son and I stopped at a Longhorn’s Steakhouse restaurant on the way home from a hockey tournament.  We’ve been there many times before.  The food is consistently good and reasonably priced.  So, we didn’t expect anything new or extraordinary.  We were hungry, and it was on the way home.

Actor Luis Guzman (from Puerto Rico), not our waiter. I'll try to get a pic of him next time we visit Longhorn's.

Actor Luis Guzman (from Puerto Rico), not our waiter. I’ll try to get a pic of him next time we visit Longhorn’s.

We were seated by the hostess and soon after, our waiter showed up.  He enthusiastically introduced himself as the “Puerto Rican Cowboy.”  Mmmm-kay.   He was one of those high-energy servers who just seemed to enjoy his job.  Along with the usual server banter and efforts to make sure we had what we needed (keeping drinks topped off, etc.), he would throw in a few words in Spanish… words that most non-speakers know like, “Gracias.”

When we got the bill, he signed off, so-to-speak, by repeating his moniker, “I’m the Puerto Rican Cowboy… buenas noches!” 

It’s all brand-bearings these days.

Pardon my “Fletch.”   😉   So, what’s the point of this story?  Continue reading

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What a Long Strange Week It’s Been.

I haven’t written in a while… uninspired and busy with my family’s “new normal.”  But, here’s what happened last week…

“I can’t help you with any discomfort.”

strange week x-rays-8236A new patient came for a problem-related examination.  He found us through our website.  He had a four-unit bridge #28 – 31 (#30 missing) and an RCT on #29 finished about 3 weeks ago.  His complaint is that one of the teeth is very sensitive to heat.  He pointed to #31.  Overall, the bridge looked decent, except for the facial and mesial margins on #31 being shy.  The margin on #29 isn’t perfect, either.  The RCT on #29 looked good, though that tooth was still sensitive to percussion (not unusual only a few weeks post-op).   “I’ve got my x-rays.”  The patient showed up with a copy of his FMX printed on a single sheet of plain paper.  This shit drives me NUTS!

bob-newhart-stop-itAttention all digital dentists:  Stop giving out WORTHLESS plain paper copies of digital x-rays!  It makes us ALL look bad!  Patients don’t understand why we can’t use them (not diagnostic).  And, they get upset that we either have to WAIT for proper emailed images or take them all over.

My front desk called the previous dentist to get emailed copies of x-rays.  His office obliges, and we got them immediately.  The images Continue reading

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“Successful Conversations Successful Practices” – Book Review

Successful Conversations book cover.Last week, I spent the day in the hospital with my daughter (getting transfusions and chemo).  I received Sherran Bard’s new book a few months ago, but I had not found the time to read it.  I brought it with me to the hospital and finally got to it.

I’ll just say that I really found this to be a great book… for a number of reasons.  First, it was easy to read.  Sherran breaks down most every conceivable conversation with patients into multiple short stories.  All the stories in “Successful Conversations” are real, true examples.  If you suffer from a short attention-span, the story format of this book makes it easy to stay engaged.

I read the book Continue reading

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My Front Tooth Fell Out – case presentation

"Why did my tooth fall out?"

“Why did my tooth fall out?”

A non-regular (shows up for emergencies only) patient presented with a chief complaint that his lower front tooth fell out.  He needed a replacement ASAP, as he didn’t want to go to work without his front tooth.  He didn’t have the tooth with him.  What can we do?

Obviously, before we treatment plan any long-term solution, we need to step back and perform a comprehensive examination.  But, what can we do in the mean time to address his chief complaint?

Options for a quick and easy (and temporary) solution would include Continue reading

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Dry Fire Laser Training Systems Review

This Dry Fire Laser Training Systems Review is the longest article I’ve written so far.  But, it’s worth reading!  I cover most of the major products on the market… all purchased by me with my money.  Of course, there will be products on the market that I don’t cover.  I’ll be reviewing products from Laserlyte (various products), Next Level Training (SIRT laser pistol), LASR (dry fire app), and Coolfire (recoil trainer).

Shooting Practice in the Comfort of Your Own Home

Some of us can’t get to the range as often as we’d like… for a number of reasons:

⦿  Time – You’re just busy with life…  You’ve got to pack up your gear.  Drive there.  Drive back.  Clean and put away gear.

⦿  Distance / Convenience – Availability of ranges may be limited.

⦿  Cost – Ammo has been scarce and expensive in recent years.  An hour at the range, practicing with 9-mm could cost $40 – $60+ in just ammo costs.

While live fire is certainly the “best” practice you can get, Dry Fire has a lot of value, as well.  Even professional shooters, who have virtually unlimited range time and ammo, use Dry Fire practice as a part of their regular and structured training regimen.

What is “Dry Fire?”

LaserLyte LT-Pro / LT-Pre dry fire laser system review.

FNP-45T with LaserLyte LT-Pro dry fire laser in muzzle.

It’s basically using a firearm without ammo.  The trigger is pulled, and the hammer or striker drops on an empty chamber (better with “snap caps” or a “dummy” cartridge to prevent excessive wear).  It may involve using an actual unloaded firearm.  Or, you can use a simulated firearm specially designed for Dry Fire practice (See section on SIRT pistol below).

Dry Fire practice lacks the recoil factor of live fire.  But, it allows the shooter to focus on grip, trigger control, sight alignment, sight picture, and other skills.  And, you won’t “run out of ammo.”  You can repeat sight pictures and trigger pulls many, many times, burning it into “muscle memory.”  Dry Fire also has the advantage of not requiring a range.  You can do it anywhere, including inside your home.  I would not recommend doing it in public areas, for hopefully obvious reasons….  We don’t want to frighten the muggles, eh? Continue reading

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Posted in Guns & Knives, Personal Security & Safety | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 34 Comments

Hashtag: Lions, Flags, and Dentists… Oh my!

Lion-2What happened to critical thinking?  “Outrage” over a spoon-fed narrative has become increasingly contagious in this willfully ignorant culture.

Groupthink, powered by the news and social media, has become epidemic.  While on an individual, intellectual basis, most of us would likely agree that what we hear from the media is biased, incomplete, and sometimes intentionally untrue.  Most of us would also agree that the adage, “if it’s on the internet, it must be true” is a sarcastic and sardonic statement.  Yet, a growing percentage of our society is quick to glom on to the cause célèbre based on some viral story on Facebook or the Today Show.  Forget about vetting the story.  Forget about doing a modicum of research on the subject.  Fact-resistance is proudly displayed, while the delusional claim the moral high ground.  These folks gain their significance on the public stage by identifying with a politically-correct position.  “I want to be a part of it… “

Perhaps we should call it “group UNthink.”

If it’s got a hashtag in front of it, then I must join the herd and express my outrage, offense, and disdain for the newly-designated transgression.

Before you pick up pitchforks and mindlessly join the judgement bandwagon… consider seeking understanding and enlightenment.  Try it!  You might like it!  To reject enlightenment is to proudly display stupidity.  It’s almost as if it’s a competition to see who can be the first to claim the moral high ground and be more enraged / offended / aghast / and contemptuous than the others about the social faux pas du jour.

Be vewy, vewy quiet… I’m hunting cavities.

A few weeks ago, it was all about flags.  Now the villain-of-the-month is a dentist!  A wascally dentist!  This week’s story was a two-fer for the agenda-driven media Continue reading

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Posted in Current Events, Editorial | Tagged , , | 68 Comments

“Howard (Farran) Speaks” Podcast with Yours Truly

Howard-Speaks-PodcastAbout 6 weeks ago, I Skyped with Dr. Howard Farran to be interviewed for his “Howard Speaks” podcast series.  It was published today (see below).  We talked about a variety of topics from website marketing to “organized” dentistry to advice for new dentists (that would apply to the old, as well).  It was like sitting at a bar with Howard and hashing out today’s issues in dentistry.

Howard founded Dentaltown.com, which is the largest and most popular online dental forum on the planet with 200,000 registered members.  I’ve been a member since the very first days of DentalTown, and it has been a significant player in my dental career.

Howard’s latest project has been his “Howard Speaks” podcast.  And, already he has racked up a massive collection of fantastic interviews (106 at this point!) with many of the leaders in dentistry today.  I would encourage you to check out his entire portfolio of interviews.  There are three ways to access them:

You can watch my interview below.  Hey… I think both of our portraits are equally old!  Ha!

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Posted in Current Events, Editor's Favorites, Practice Management, Technology, What Happened Today | Tagged , | 4 Comments