Eight Mistakes Dentists Frequently Make

Mistakes that Dentists make

Eight Mistakes Dentists Frequently Make

We’re dentists just like you, so we know what it’s like. Mistakes are frequently made.  For example, you want to make some simple changes in your practice, but you have a patient in room one for a crown prep, an emergency patient on the phone who needs to be “squeezed in,” and an issue brewing in the staff lounge. So much time is spent treating patients and putting out fires that some really important stuff gets neglected.

So with that in mind, here are eight mistakes that dentists make that we see in practices all across North America. The good news? They’re easy to rectify! And thanks to our friend, business consultant Jim Ries, for inspiring this article.

Dentist Mistake #1: Devaluing your services to “make the sale.

“No doubt about it, high quality dentistry can be a significant expense to the patient, but it is a solid investment in their health. Everyone on the team, including the dentist, needs to be confident that the service they provide is worth every penny and more! If not, it will come through when you present treatment and fees. Resist the temptation to strike a deal or join a crappy paying insurance plan. Get really good at presenting Care Credit as a financing option. Let’s face it – you might get a few more “yeses” if you are the cheapest dentist in town – but is that what you really want?

Dentist Mistake #2: Focusing too much on new patients and letting existing ones “slip through the cracks.”

Well over 50% of the practices that contact us for help say “not enough new patients” is one of their top three problems. But nine times out of ten when we do a data analysis snapshot we find that they are losing patients like crazy through the back door! Nothing against new patients, but it is SOOOOO much easier to retain and reactivate. If you’re not sure of the most effective way to do this, we can help!

Dentist Mistake #3: Not being “calibrated.”

When a patient asks a question to a doctor or team member, they MUST get the same response from everyone! This doesn’t mean a robotic script should be mindlessly vomited, but the same answer needs to be given. How do you become calibrated? Practice, practice, practice!

Dentist Mistake #4: Screwing up the initial phone call. 

Every week on The Dental Practice Fixers podcast we make secret shopper calls to random dental practices, and the results are often horrifying. Voicemails during regular office hours (“If you’re hearing this message, we’re too busy for you”), the dreaded “Doctor’s office, HOLD PLEASE!,” and team members with the enthusiasm of a park bench are the norm. But what’s worse is when potential new patients are never given the opportunity to schedule. Think it’s not happening in your office? Think again.

Dentist Mistake #5: Trying to wear too many “hats” at once.

Clinician, boss, HR expert, salesperson, marketer, psychologist……sheesh! The number of jobs we have never ends! The cure? Having the proper systems in place and knowing when to delegate.

Dentist Mistake #6: Not seeking outside help when you need it. 

You can’t do it all! An excellent dental coaching team is often the best way to grow your practice and enjoy dentistry more. If your practice is not constantly improving, something is not working. Ready for a change? Let’s talk! 

Dentist Mistake #7: Not having the correct number of employees.

This works both ways. We’ve seen practices who can’t get a hygiene patient or new patient in for months, yet they are too cost-conscious to bring on a new RDH. On the other hand, some practices are paying people who aren’t busy, while a competent, enthusiastic team member is not being challenged enough. Evaluate the strength and capabilities of your team. Don’t be afraid to hire someone who can help the practice improve, and don’t wait if someone needs a “job opportunity” elsewhere. Both of these scenarios typically have the practice owner saying “I can’t believe I waited this long!”

Dentist Mistake #8: Not having a long-term plan and goals to work towards.

“What gets measured gets achieved.” Your dental practice is your business, your livelihood, and your future. But there’s a good chance you’re running it like it’s a hobby. Real businesses have goals, plans and protocols. You and your team need something to strive for, look forward to and bring meaning to the work you do. Happy and engaged doctors and team members need to be challenged and have a sense of purpose. Without this you’ll be living the same day over and over again with little progress.


What good is having a successful practice if you aren’t enjoying it every day? Life is way too short to have a “negative happiness equation!” If you’ve convinced yourself that a good life means being miserable at work so you can afford to have fun on the weekends, please unconvince yourself now! You spend so much time at work – not loving it is simply inexcusable!

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