You Know What They Say About the Word ASSUME – Two Valuable Lessons


It’s easy to get in a groove and allow things to become routine and begin to take things for granted. Recently, there were two incidents that made me rethink what I was doing. There’s a valuable lesson that came from this.

Lesson #1

I have nearly every piece of technology in my practice. And I’d like to think we do a great job of showcasing and utilizing this technology. In fact, I’d go as far as saying that all my patients associate me as a ‘high tech’ dentist. Well… you know what they say about the word ASSume.

I have a pretty good relationship with my mother in law. She is pretty aware of my practice, my non practice dental activities, and my fascination with technology. She also happens to be a patient for whom I have done quite a bit of work using all this fancy technology.

Recently, a good family friend just opened a new dental practice in Fort Lauderdale (Dr. Joe Thomas) and held an open house. My in laws went to the open house and Dr. Thomas was showcasing the technologies for everyone. He stopped and showed his amazing 3D CBCT imaging scanner (Galileos from Sirona Dental) to my in laws. He sung the praises of what it does and how it allows him to diagnose better. My mother in law was fascinated by this.

Literally right then my mother in law called me (from Dr. Thomas office) to tell me about this amazing 3D imaging and asked why I didn’t have one in my office. She said you should go and purchase a Sirona Galileos 3D imaging unit. I stood there holding the phone dumbfounded.

It’s not that I have that exact machine, but that I am one the biggest proponents/advocates for 3D imaging. In fact, I speak to and train thousands of dentist every year about this exact technology. Like a good son in law I thanked her for the advise.

This made me realize that we take for granted our technologies and ASSume that our patients are aware of what these fancy gizmos are. Since this has happened our practice has made it a point to take all new patients on a tour of our office showcasing the various amenities and technologies in our office. We also make it a point to showcase to every patient (new and old) our 3D technologies.

We do this by showing each patient the actual machine and by showing them their 3D scan in the software on a big screen TV. It’s not enough to just show them the machine – they have no idea what it is and truthfully it looks like any other dental equipment to them. Many patients have commented on how amazing it is and have even said “I never knew you had that”.

It’s very easy to allow technology to become routine and taken for granted. After all you use it and see it everyday.

Lesson #2

I have decided that I want to start increasing referrals to our practice from medical professionals. Specifically, I want them to refer patients to our practice for oral appliances for sleep apnea and for dental guards for patients that complain of headaches and jaw pain.

On a side note….. When these patients are referred with a medical necessity it is very possible to gain reimbursement through medical insurance. So why not educate the medical offices and establish my practice as the source for these solutions.

So I wanted to practice my ‘lunch and learn’ presentation on my wife’s office. Since we practice in the same building it was a great opportunity for my team and her team to lunch together and listen to me talk about both these treatment modalities.

I catered lunch for everyone and then gave my 15-20 minute presentation. What I learned was startling to me.

While the medical office had questions and was interested, the majority of the questions came from my own team. Afterwards, they made comments like “I never really understood why you do that or recommend that” and “Now it totally makes sense”.

What did I learn? We all likely fail at having our team members truly understand what we do and why we do it. And then we wonder why we aren’t doing more of something or why patients are more eager to accept the treatment that benefits them. The truth is that you can’t expect a layperson to accept something if your team doesn’t truly understand.

So we now have added 30 minutes to our regular monthly team meeting for me to do a quick presentation on various procedures and concepts to our dental team.

This is another clear example of what happens when you ASSume something. After all, how many of us really have a proper training program for new team members? How many times have you ‘refreshed’ your current team members? Most of what we do is constantly changing and evolving. That initial training may have sufficed, but it never hurts to constantly train and educate your dental team members.

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