15 Daily Habits of the Most Successful Dentists
by Tyson Downs
Dentistry isn’t an easy profession. You spend years and a fortune learning the craft, and it all pays off if you can achieve one thing with your career: success.
But here’s the truth:
You can spend hours pondering how to be a successful dentist. What really matters are the habits you have in your day-to-day life that make it happen.
Here’s advice from some of the most successful dentists -- 15 daily habits you can adopt to advance your dental practitioner career.
1. Have foresight
Luke Wolniak D.D.S., M.A., is a successful private practice general dentist.
He says the most important daily ritual for his practice is foresight.
“The team meets every morning and we review the schedule and patients. We discuss financials, treatment needed, and opportunities to see emergencies.”
He also mentions that foresight is a lot easier to achieve with the help of well designed systems. At his practice, everyone knows what they’re supposed to do, making it easy to measure results and adjust.
2. Look for opportunities to learn
Any dentist knows that continuing education is necessary for success long term. But it simply won’t happen unless you’re always looking for opportunities to learn.
Zyl, bachelor of dentistry, says:
“Be hungry for knowledge, constantly update yourself with the latest techniques and materials used in dentistry. Attend seminars, conferences and hands-on courses. Good excuse for a side vacation too.”
3. Be flexible
Running your own dental practice comes with a lot of responsibilities. If you want your business to grow, you need to be flexible and adapt to the different needs of each day.
Ryan Dulde, DDS, owner of Eagle Family Dentistry, illustrates the point well:
“As the owner of a start-up business, my day-to-day schedule varies greatly! Some days are very busy with patient care, while slower days are spent meeting with vendors, marketing the practice or handling administrative duties. I am surprised how much of my daily job isn't performing dental treatment and how much of my work follows me home at night.”
4. Be ready for medical emergencies
Dentist Vinita Shishodia highlights one important daily habit of successful dentists that many overlook:
“Be ready to manage any medical emergency, always, while you are in the clinic. Every morning before starting, check your emergency tray.”
5. Think frugal
A successful dentist has a good salary, but that’s not always the case in the beginning. Douglas Carlsen, DDS, highlights the importance of frugality for long term success.
“Track your spending -- at least for your weak areas. Think “frugal” for the first few years out of school and don’t buy the huge house until you have all your other personal and practice debt paid off.”
6. Never stop caring
John Fenn, BDSc, spent many years pondering what made a successful dentist. After many ups and downs in his personal and professional life, here’s the conclusion he came to:
“I think if you want to be the successful clinician it would help if you actually cared about people. If you care mainly about the money your patients will know that and stay away.If you can balance both of those attributes you can be a successful dentist and a successful person.”
7. Be an entrepreneur
Dr. Bill Dorfman is an iconic celebrity dentist. He was the founder of million-dollar practice “Discus Dental,” and went on to fix the smiles of many A-list celebrities.
In an interview with Dentistry IQ, he was asked to offer advice to the next generation of dentists. He said:
“Don’t wait for opportunities. Create them. If you are just waiting around and waiting for people to knock on your door, you’re gonna go broke. You need to create opportunities and when you get those opportunities, you need to really take advantage of them.”
Gaining knowledge through continuing education is important for success as a dentist, but it’s what you do with that knowledge that really matters.
Dentist Sarah Khattak says knowledge helps you practice, and practice leads to success:
“Dentistry Practice is basically a skill. The more you practice your skill, the more efficient you get, and your success rate increases.”
9. Let your support staff help you
You’re the dentist, which means all the responsibility of your practice boils down to you. But shouldering the responsibility doesn’t mean shouldering all the work.
“Many offices struggle in this area. Some doctors do the entire examination process. The problem here is that often, when the assistant is involved, case acceptance increases. The more the assistant does, the more the doctor can have a handpiece in his or her hands, doing only those things a doctor can do.”
She recommends allowing your dental assistant to:
- Review the health history
- Take the necessary X-rays
- Discuss cosmetic dental needs with the patient
- Use the intraoral camera and discuss oral health with the patient
10. Strike a balance
Jon Aronson, a retired dentist with over 40 years of practice, stresses the importance of creating a balance between work, family, and things you do just for you.
“Find hobbies that you enjoy, learn to play an instrument and that will help with the stress and also help to keep your hand(s) learning new things.Treat the old, as if they are your parents. Threat the young as you would want your children treated. Remember you have a family and spend time with your family.”
11. Look for opportunities to network
If you want to make it to the top of the career ladder as a dentist, networking is a must.
Zyl, bachelor of dentistry, says:
“They say sometimes it is not what you know but who you know and that is very true in dentistry. Networking like in all career fields, is just as significant in dentistry for creating new opportunities and help in times of need.”
12. Stick to a plan
He says one key to success is to develop a vision and a plan. But for the day to day, you actually need to follow it:
“One of the greatest problems I had in my 24-year career as a dentist was not staying focused on my plan. My practice would be doing great. Then, I would attend a weekend course and come back on Monday and try to change everything. “My weary staff finally learned, ‘Just ignore him ... he'll forget about it by Friday. And they were right! I usually did. Oh, I incorporated a few good ideas, but I never really implemented the entire package and thus I never got the desired results.”
13. Practice ethically
Dr. Richa Singhania stresses the importance of always practicing ethically for success:
“... Remember that you can save lives and improve the quality of life of your patients. Practice ethically and genuinely. Treat the patients nicely and provide them all the explanation they deserve regarding their treatment. They have the right to know why and what treatment they need to have. Have regular follow-ups [as] needed. Complete the treatment procedures as they should end. This would be enough to achieve your goal.”
14. Be proactive
Dr. Vladimir Chistoprudov is a full time dentist, entrepreneur and inventor. He penned a book on habits of successful dentists, and his first point was to be proactive.
“Proactive dentists are dentists who are open-minded to new techniques and procedures. Have you ever heard of a dentist that always says, ‘No, that can’t be done’ or ‘No, that won’t work’ when you mention a new dental procedure or talk about an oral health care product? …“If you want to be an effective dentist, be proactive! Be up for more challenges that will help you become the most competitive version of yourself.”
15. Have a good attitude
Jon Aronson is a retired dentist with over 40 years of practice. He offers some wise words about the importance of a good daily attitude for success as a dentist:
“A good attitude ... sometimes requires divorcing one’s self from home or family or business issues, but every day should begin (and not just practice, but also life in general) with the thoughts of thanks for another day above the ground, alive and cogent and ready to face another day of practice with a great attitude. Nearly 50 years ago, when I was in dental school, I had a professor who when he would have contact with any of the students would ask, “How’s you PMA?” At first I looked down to see if my zipper was down, but an older student said that PMA was Positive Mental Attitude. PMA is essential for dental success and, really, all success in life.”
If you are a dentist, what advice would you give to a new dentist, when they ask: How can I become a successful dentist?
We’d love to hear what daily habits help your practice succeed in the comments below.
Oh, an let us know what 'success' means to you.
Is it free time?
A consistent stream of new patients?
Hitting certain revenue goals?
Let us know in the comments below.
About the Author
Tyson Downs, the owner of Titan Web Agency, has years of experience working with small businesses and helping them meet their revenue goals. Prior to starting Titan Web Agency, he freelanced in SEO and Web Design while working in the corporate world. Tyson is a graduate of Brigham Young University, the father of 5, and enjoys spending time with his family. Particularly on the baseball field.