5 Common Challenges Dental Professionals Face

Meet challenges head on and set your dental practice up for success.

Dentistry is constantly evolving with new technology and advancement in treatment protocols to improve patient satisfaction. Aside from improving clinical aspects in dentistry, dentists still find the profession challenging and even stressful at times. Dental practice ownership is not a course taught in dental school or residency; it takes time and experience to understand all of the responsibilities associated with practice ownership. Many dentists are unprepared for the challenges associated with being a solo practice owner, but fortunately there are key ways to avoid dental practice burnout. 

Some of the most common challenges dentists face are related to administrative duties, such as managing staff and dealing with finances like overhead and supplies. With the right team, you can help eliminate stress and improve your patient retention and overall career livelihood. Here are 5 challenges that you may be facing in your dental business and tips on how to overcome them.

1. I didn’t sign up to be a business owner. I am a dentist.

Dentistry is a career that is part-time clinical practice and part-time (or more) administrative. Most dentists probably didn’t realize this when they were in school or early in their careers, but a majority of their time spent as a dentist will involve business-related tasks. This is no surprise as most dental schools and residency programs barely cover practice management and how it can significantly impact your career. 

Dental practice ownership can create stress and pressure on a person, especially when they are not well prepared. The best way to overcome the challenges of owning your own business is to explore business continuing education courses related to dentistry. Hire a well trained office manager to help take the burden of the business side off your shoulders. You should still thoroughly understand how your practice operates, from ordering supplies to claim adjustments, so you can ensure your practice growth is organic and healthy, but that doesn’t mean you have to do it all yourself. 

2. How you can maintain a motivated dental team.

Going to work every day with a team that is not engaged or motivated can be a challenging aspect of owning your own business—especially when a majority of your patients spend more time with your staff for preventative visits and scheduling new appointments than they spend with you. Good employees are one of the key factors to help maintain a successful, positive office environment. 

To help overcome challenges such as these and motivate your team, work on modeling good leadership skills by pitching in whenever possible and rewarding team members both verbally and incentive-wise when they meet production goals. It is equally important to recognize good, hard work as it is to provide constructive criticism. 

3. It’s important to make time for a good work-life balance.

Over time, dentistry can become mundane and time consuming if a practice is not operating efficiently. Most dentists will work full time because of the high financial commitment it takes to run a practice, but one of the benefits of choosing dentistry as a career is the flexibility and diverse career options you have. You can choose to work as little as one day a week or as much as five days. You may want to teach part-time or work with a community health program.

The most important factor is balancing your career with your personal life and making time for the things you enjoy outside of dentistry. Whether you put time aside for family, friends, exercise, or vacations, make sure to carve out time for yourself to maintain a healthy state of mind. 

4. Communication is key: with your team and your patients.

Communication is one of the leading issues a dentist may struggle with. Sometimes it may be with a staff member and other times it may include a patient. Dentistry is very precise and detailed, which is why it requires several years of postgraduate education. But not everyone is familiar with the biological or scientific reasons for dental treatment, and patients may become frustrated when they don’t understand why a filling can’t be done when you know a dental crown is needed. 

Practice good communication skills with your patients by taking the time to explain treatment plans and involve your patients with their oral health. Doing so builds trust and also encourages them to take ownership of the health of their teeth. Discuss treatments with your clinical staff so they can also relay the importance of good oral care habits. 

Effective communication with dental staff can also vastly improve the culture and efficiency of your practice. Hold weekly meetings so your staff is up-to-date on your production goals and concerns with the office. Take time to listen to your team so you are aware of their concerns and expectations. Your team is the face of your business and they are best placed to see possible process improvements and identify potential pitfalls.  

5. Meet and exceed your production goals.

Dentists have a major financial responsibility as a dental practice owner. Between rent and supplies and payroll, it can be costly and stressful. To alleviate stress as a dental owner, consider taking advanced continuing education courses with the American Orthodontic Society to incorporate orthodontics into your general or pediatric practice. Orthodontics is a simple way to offer necessary treatment for your patients and expand the services you offer your patients.

Taking an online or in-person orthodontics continuing education course can motivate you educationally and offer you a passive income to avoid dental practice burnout. Many general and pediatric dentists can eventually phase out traditional dentistry when they are ready to transition or retire to maintain some type of income and keep their hand in the game of dentistry. 

By focusing on these critical areas, you can ensure you have a successful practice and a high-functioning staff, while avoiding stress and burnout. Running your own business will always come with unique challenges, which is why it’s important to build a team who can champion your vision and work with you to ensure your practice is running at its optimal level.  Having a well-balanced schedule can tremendously improve your career longevity as well as maintain good staff and productive treatments like orthodontics. If you’re ready to expand your skill set and give orthodontics a go, check out the range of courses on offer at the American Orthodontic Society. 

To learn more about our popular orthodontics courses for pediatric and general dentists, check out one of the upcoming events below.

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