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As spring begins and leads into summer, it is wonderful to see people walking with more bounce in their step. There is joy as outdoor pursuits can be resumed with the warming weather. And spring is also the season of love.   Many romances begin as the days begin to lengthen and the sun shines more brightly. Maybe this was my inspiration as I gave a young dentist the advice to “Stop kissing the tooth….Make love to it!”


Maintaining a solid relationship with a spouse or loved one requires a great sense of commitment, and excellent time management to make each moment together count. Being a dentist requires the same sense of commitment and time management. The commitment is to expedient completion of the procedures to the highest level of competence, and to do it in a way that helps maintain time commitments and some degree of profitability.

One of the joys of being a Dental Practice Coach is seeing the new members of our professional community beginning their careers in the practices that we are working with. Most of them begin their first positions with confidence, and with high expectations. Some, take off and fly, while others, become humbled by the need to combine clinical performance with excellent people management and business management.

Recently, I was asked to observe the associate dentist in a practice. Members of the team had expressed some frustration over the doctor taking two and a half to three hours to complete a simple “crown prep, temp and impression.” Similar situations have occurred in practices with scanners and mills, but in those practices, it is usually more related to time management of the digital work flow.

In this practice I watched as the doctor touched the tooth with the diamond, then stopped and blew air on it to inspect what he had done, which was very little to that point. This routine was repeated time after time for quite a while. It reminded me of how, in Dental School, we would all drill a little, then repeatedly blow the dust off with our mouth. I will never forget how, on my first live patient, I almost went to blow off the tooth with my mouth, until I caught myself and switched to the air-water syringe.

Finally, I asked the doctor to have his patient rinse, and I took him into the hallway and said, “Stop kissing the tooth and make love to it”. Stunned, he asked what I meant. I told him that he must begin the procedure having visualized what the end result will be. For a crown preparation, it is seeing the tooth reduced sufficiently to allow the proper thickness of restorative material to restore the tooth to full contour with sufficient bulk to reduce the chance of fracture. In order to do that we must embrace the concept of depth cuts to determine the extent of reduction. We know what It should be circumferentially and occlusally. Just get in there and commit to doing it. As Nike advertises, “JUST DO IT!”. Once the depth cuts are completed, then connect them with a gross reduction diamond, and then add your finishing line, whether it be shoulder chamfer or bevel. The key to doing this is to get in there with commitment to the final outcome and embrace the confidence to get there with minimal hesitation and stoppages.

One of the tools that I recommend to help accomplish this is a stopwatch. There are four phases of the procedure that should be timed:

1.   From the time the patient is seated, to when the handpiece is picked up to begin the preparation.

2.   From the time the handpiece is picked up, to begin the preparation, to when the handpiece is put down with the preparation completed

3.   From the time the handpiece is put down to when the impression or scan is completed.

4.   A. For same day crowns – from the time the scan is complete to when the patient is asked to wait for the crown (this includes the design of the crown)

B. For patients returning – from the time the impression or scan is complete to when the patient is dismissed (this includes the fabrication of a temporary crown)

We recommend that each of these phases should take no more than 15 to 20 minutes. The act of timing your procedures seems to create a greater awareness of completing it expeditiously. Tasks expand to meet the time available. Time awareness creates greater urgency. After a while, the routine becomes more comfortable to complete in the lesser amount of time, and this will allow the doctor to schedule two similar procedures in the same amount of time that it previously took to do one. Remembering that one additional crown per day for a doctor generates $200,000 additional revenue for a practice, it puts an exclamation point to “Stop kissing the tooth… make love to it!”

If you would like to find out more about how Smile Potential Coaching can help you grow your practice and become more productive,

send us an email at or call us at 516-599-0214.