Cliff's Notes

The Business of Dentistry

Do’s & Don’ts of “Convention Season”


The Year is coming to an end and for most business 2019 investment plans are underway. Q4 usually brings along some great deals and a good amount of “Convention Specials” are available now. That’s why you have to sit back, do your due diligence, and plan your investments carefully. Through my 40 years in dentistry, here are some do’s and don’ts that I suggest.

Dental Technology Do listen to your friends and get “IN-Office” demonstrations … Don’t buy something because they did. This especially holds true for dental scanners and cameras. A dental office is a unique business. No two operate the same way and here in the northeast the patient demographic changes every 5 miles. When planning the purchase of a dental impression scanner there is a lot of behind the scene support that will determine what system will work best for your work flow. Also, how far do you want to take a scanner? Some work better with mills and integrate seamlessly with other technologies such as CBT, 3D Pinters, Management Software, etc. and all of that should be evaluated before any decisions are made. Do go to the shows and look at everything … Don’t buy it at the show and make sure to get you team involved. Do look at the financial end … Don’t buy from a seller that offers less than 3 options, remember your looking for what works best and integrates with your existing network and future plans … Do Support is a key factor.

Dental Operatory Equipment … Like going to the car show, you want to slam the doors & kick the tires to see what lights you up. Do listen to your friends about the pro’s and con’s of what they have … Don’t decide on just their experience … Do ask a manufacturer representative about their ergonomics. Quality equipment is ergonomically designed for the professional to sit in a stool while treating a patient. The ergonomic design of dental equipment is important to your health. Also, speak with dental equipment specialists that offer more than 5 different brands and multiple options.

Small Equipment … IRS Sec. 179 works great when it comes time to replace Curing Lights, Handpieces, Intraoral Cameras, lasers, etc. But how do you choose what to buy? Don’t buy a year’s supply of composite just to get a free Light, it’s not free! Do look at the Light that is made by the manufacture of the composite you like. Don’t buy a Handpiece because of price, it is your #1 tool. Do demo quality Handpieces to see how they feel in your hand. Don’t buy an Intraoral Camera for the bells and whistles. Do think carefully if you will utilizes the options or just pay for them. Do make sure that all digital data will move smoothly throughout your network. Utilizing the resources of an equipment and IT team that has direct connections to multiple equipment and technology manufacturers is essential.

Consumable Merchandise … Convention & Special are the 2 buzz words. Don’t buy a years supply of anything! Why keep the money on the shelf and not in the bank? When something sits on your shelf for more than 30 days it starts to lose value. Do think about how long it will take to use up an item and free is not free. If it will sit for more than 90 days it better be a real good deal. Do have your team gather up all the expired items in your cabinets so you can estimate how much money you lost and gauge what to buy.

Step #1 … Talk to your tax adviser about all year end investments. Step #2 … The Plan!


October 18, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Water & Air … Everywhere!

In the movie Major League Actor James Gammon, who played the team’s gravel-voiced manager Lou Brown explained the game of baseball in simple terms “you hit the ball, you catch the ball, you throw the ball”. Now we all know it is not that simple and your dental equipment is no different. It needs regular maintenance and some TLC.

Broken down into “Lou Brown” terms it’s all about water and air. In a time when technology is all you hear about we tend to forget the basics, your dental equipment. The mechanicals you need to practice dentistry are often abused and get prematurely old due to lack of maintenance. Think about the “Panic Centers” and service them regularly.

The Panic Centers … The dark places where nobody wants to go. Your air compressor and vacuum system are the keys to your clinical dentistry. They are not the brain of the operation, they are the heart. If either one goes down you can’t do much dentistry and Hygiene is completely shut down. That’s when you panic!

Air Compressor … A dental air compressor is the heart of your practice and is specifically designed to deliver clean dry air. They are complex in design and have filters and purge valves that have to be cleaned annually. Oil-type compressors may need to have oil added or a complete oil change. Oil type compressors are not that common any more due to the oil vapor that that leaves a residue buildup on the walls of the airlines. Most offices take the compressor for granted but think about what you would lose if it went down in the middle of the day. It’s not that expensive (a few hundred dollars) to have a small spare commercial compressor standing by. Look at it like an emergency generator that you picked up at a home store. For the several hours or a day that it takes to get the main system up and running you will still in business.

Vacuum Motors … There are all types of vacuum systems Do you know if you have a  wet or dry pump. Vacuum systems work opposite from compressors, one is positive pressure and the other negative. Compressors turn on & off depending on air pressure  but vacuums are high power motors that are designed to run continually for long periods of time. But again, filters, valves and the amalgam separator need to be serviced. Annual maintenance is strongly recommended and scheduling a service call whenever it is time to change the amalgam separator is a great opportunity.

Maintenance Program … The easiest and most financially sensible thing to do is to schedule one day once a year to have all of your equipment serviced. In most cases its just a 1 to 2 hour service call but as Benjamin Franklin said “an once of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. You have practice management software and so does your service tech. Put it in the schedule when ever your amalgam separator needs to be changed. Get it all done at the same time and you will prolong the life and function of your equipment. Also, scheduling the time is under your control to avoid any clinical disruptions. Now what about practice Technology, it also needs maintenance.

Technology … If it works, don’t fix it! That’s how most of us feel about our network. IT services are essential in today’s healthcare climate and it will only get more complex. Integration of multiple systems each with their own software will be an on-going expense and every time something new is added it will effect everything else. Everyone has their own IT person and in some cases that person, as a 3rd party, does not have the resources to stay on the bleeding edge. It is much less expensive if all of your technology works seamlessly with each other. It is also important to have 24 hour monitoring and offsite back-up. Everything leaving your office computers must be compliant and being as your data is being continually attacked you need protection. You want a dental certified IT Service provider. Integration of different technologies within the same network can be a disaster if not controlled correctly.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.



October 7, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment