How Do You Become a Faster Dentist?

dentist dentistry dr. aaron nicholas dr. mark costes efficiency Nov 03, 2020

I get asked all the time about how to “get faster”.

To be honest, this question always makes me cringe a bit.  Speed is a noble goal but only if it is NOT accompanied by a reduction in quality. 

   The way I see it, my first responsibility is to be almost perfect!   As dentists, we are asked day in and day out to work in a highly stressful environment and to produce “perfect” outcomes 8 hours a day for as many days as we decide to work each week.  It’s almost impossible!

  However, we actually do this on a fairly regular basis.  Every time a patient comes to us after treatment to complain of a less than perfect outcome, what they are really saying is that they expected you to be perfect.  It’s an amazing compliment and an unrealistic burden.

  But, efficiency and high quality don’t have to be exclusive of each other and many times they are actually a function of each other.

 I can perform a root canal, buildup and crown in an hour and a half in the middle of my day with almost no problem.  But move that procedure to the end of the day where I don’t necessarily need to be right on schedule and I have trouble finishing and getting my staff home on time. Why? 

  As Cyril Northcote Parkinson observed years ago “Work expands to fill the time allotted, usually without and increase in the quality of results”.

 A lot of what’s going on has to do with the dentist’s mindset of when good enough is enough.  Will working on this aspect of the treatment yield a better result or are we just satisfying our own neurosis?

Don’t get me wrong, I like creating perfect and beautiful outcomes.   And I LOVE getting better results because of my efficiency!  I live for that moment when when we finish a procedure and the patient looks up and says “That’s it?  If I knew it was going to be this easy I’d done this years ago!”  But the hero can quickly turn into the donkey if our “speed” ends up with the patient receiving a poorer result than expected. 

So, what we are really looking for is ways to become hyper efficient. 

But there are some pitfalls here as well.  We can be hyper efficient at a process that yields the wrong or poor results. 

Get a ladder. Put it up  against a wall.  Get really good at climbing the ladder. Amazing! You’re the best! But if the ladder is leaning up against the wrong wall you’ve accomplished nothing!

Yes, you’re fast! Yes, you’re hyper efficient! You’re the fastest at getting to the top of the ladder but, IT’S AGAINST THE WRONG WALL!

You’re hyper efficient at the wrong outcome. Opps!

So what we really need to do is to figure out our best outcome.  Then figure out all the necessary steps to get us to that outcome. Then eliminate everything that doesn’t directly add to us accomplishing that goal.

Now we can become hyper-efficient in a meaningful way!

Most importantly, NOW speed comes as a byproduct. 

 That’s the way I want to be faster

Join me here over the next few weeks as we explore the general principles that will enable you to do this with any procedure in your office.

And I’ll walk you step by step through my path to make the top four dental procedures more efficient than you ever thought possible