Is YOUR Sterilization Center Up to the Task?

Is YOUR Sterilization Center Up to the Task?

Dental office sterilization has been a career long passion of mine. Infection control protocols and recommendations have been developed by CDC, OSHA and ADA in reaction to disease threats, safety issues, and ongoing research over the years. In turn, companies evolve their products and instrument-management systems to enable dental care providers to adhere to new regulations. These products and systems facilitate up to date, safe, effective, and efficient instrument processing. The success of your practice, now and going forward post Covid 19, will depend on your ability to meet the highest standards of infection control and instrument management.

As late as the 1970’s instrument management focused on organization and efficiency, not necessarily infection control. No one wore gloves or masks, and instrument were often hand washed and cleaned with gauze and alcohol. In the early 1980s, the AIDS epidemic hit. Widespread public panic and fear of being exposed to infectious disease became the norm. This global health crisis led to a whole new level of infection control. Stringent guidelines and mandated regulations were required in medicine and dentistry. In 1986, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published their first comprehensive dental infection control guidelines and adopted “universal precautions” based on the concept that all blood, and body fluids that might contain blood, are potentially contaminated and should be treated as infectious. Infection control and safety for dental personnel and patients receiving treatment in a dental facility became a top priority.

Sterilization systems have been developed in the past to support the steps and sequencing necessary to safely ensure compliant results. Instrument cassettes are crucial to minimizing risk to staff and for the proper handling of dental instruments. Now, during this time of office closure, is an ideal time to evaluate the adequacy of your current set up. Do you have the equipment necessary to manage the volume of instruments and sterilization requirements going forward?

Your sterilization center is the heart of the office. It has a direct effect on health, safety and efficiency. The current guidelines, and the likely changes and expansion of requirements, will apply to sterilization in all dental offices. When evaluating the efficacy of sterilization in an office I look at the capacity needed based on: sterilization space available, number of operatories, number of providers and procedure types. A complete sterilization system can be as compact as 6′ for small office, and up to 8′, 10′, 11′, 14′ and even up to 40′ for very large operations. I can match your space with your needs while meeting all CDC, OSHA and ADA guidelines and requirements.

For over two decades I have successfully configuring sterilization areas for hundreds of dental offices, creating correct, state of the art sterilization workflow including implementation of cassettes, instrument washer, instrument dryers, sterilizers, handpiece lubrication, vacuum and storage. In addition, I can train your team to use the system correctly and most importantly, teach them to identify ways the process is might be compromised. By evaluating the need and updating now you will feel completely confident that you are keeping your personnel and patients as safe as possible.

We can begin this process of evaluating your sterilization center together virtually!

Let’s schedule a Facetime consultation from the safety of your office to review your sterilization area and function. Alternatively, please email me 4 pictures of your current area. Take 4-5 close up close and 4-5 from 8-12 ft away. I will use the photos to analyze where you are at, and make a customized recommendation that will put you in the best place to meet guidelines and requirements in the future.




You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat…

You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat…

According to the ADA, the demand for dental services will increase as the population ages and as research continues to link oral health to overall health. Currently, there is a shortage of dentists in the US, and this trend is estimated to continue until 2033. Dental practices have the lowest failure rate of all businesses and the dental industry is growing at 6% annually. These factors create a tremendous opportunity for doctors to expand their business now to take advantage of the increased demand for quality dentistry. Making a smart growth plan to expand your existing space, or build a new larger office to accommodate the demand for treatment is the smartest decision you can make at this point in your dental career.

In the business of dentistry, across the country, it is typical for a practice to collect $250,000 per operatory that is in production 4 days a week. Think of it this way, you have three operatories and room to expand for two more. You are on the fence about the expansion, but you know you have a strong dental team and very productive hygiene department and patients who love your practice. Building two additional operatories can yield $500,000 annually and improves your ability to offer treatment in a timely manner and in fewer appointments, which is even more convenient for your patients. Everyone wins!

In the case of a start up a typical plan will include 3 operatories with room to build out 2 more. As soon as the practice has grown to produce $750,000 annually and has approximately 700 patients, it is time to get a bigger boat! By adding the additional 2 operatories, you have already proactively planned for, you will have a practice capable of collecting $1.25 million and provide high quality care to 1400 patients.

The doctors I worry about the most have 5-6 operatories and over 1800 patients. Bringing in a second provider seems like an obvious way to manage the workload, but it does not expand production to the optimal level that is possible in a two doctor practice. In this scenario there is a shortage of operatories. The office needs to have 9-10 ops in order to have enough space for hygiene production and for doctors to have room to efficiently provide treatment. If one doctor needs 5 operatories for a healthy practice, 2 doctors need 10. Your production will rise by $250,000 per op. Not expanding can cost you $1,000,000 per year, cause stress, and lower you patient experience because of long waits for appointments due to lack of space.

We can make a customized plan including, the financing, a timeline and a breakeven point for your investment. Costs of expansion or start up practices can be formulated to make sure you are not leaving money on the table in your practice. My reputation, experience, advice and insight are the greatest assets I have to offer my clients. The relationship I have with my doctor clients is a long-term commitment to the ongoing health and growth of their business. The customized treatment plan I develop for you is key to the successful execution of their project vision and I continue to be a dedicated trusted advisor long after that vision becomes a reality! Please take a moment to view featured projects and read testimonials from doctors about their projects. You can also fill out Getting Started forms on my website. Let’s meet to discuss ways we can work together to plan and build the successful modern dental practice of your dreams.

(Small boat photo courtesy Melanie Hamlett)

My Dental Practice 6 Photo Challenge

My Dental Practice 6 Photo Challenge

When was last time you evaluated your practice with a critical set of eyes? Take a really close look at the flow of your work space, the age and functionality of your equipment, and the impression the appearance of the office makes on your patients. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and so many of you sent photos earlier this year that I wanted to post this challenge again for a second round!

My Dental Practice 6 Photo Challenge

Take the following 6 photos of your office:

1. Operatory
2. Sterilization area
3. Technology
4. Reception Area
5. Whatever bothers you most
6. Front of your building

These pictures tell the story of your practice. They reveal areas in need of improvement, lost production opportunities, and the messages you are sending to your patients.  It is easy, in the rush of day to day operations to lose sight, of the bigger picture. Let’s begin your path to practice growth with a review of your 6 photos.  Email or text them to me and I will or arrange a private consultation in your office to provide a customized assessment and a plan for updates that will dramatically impact the success of your practice.

To be even more prepared for our consultation, take a few moments to fill out the practice growth survey on my website. The survey can help you get focused and is a great starting point for goal setting and planning.

My experience helping doctors launch and expand dental practices can save you time, help you avoid common pitfalls, and ensure that you have the guidance and support you need to make a practice growth strategy that is right for you. There is no better time to take charge of your future, achieve the productivity and success you’ve always dreamed of, practice state of the art dentistry, and love what you’re doing more than you ever thought was possible!

Post Dental School Roadmap to Private Practice Ownership: The Pathway to Success

Post Dental School Roadmap to Private Practice Ownership: The Pathway to Success


If you have recently graduated or have been Associating for 2+ years don’t let anyone convince you that owning a private practice is out of reach, or an unrealistic goal. The ADA has projected that there will be a shortage of dentists available to serve the needs of the US population until the year 2033. Dentists who can provide good quality dental care will be in great demand for the foreseeable future. This means opportunities, options, and choices for successfully launching your own private practice will be very high!

Just the other day I read a blog by Travis Hornsby, CFA and founder of Student Loan Planner, entitled Corporate Dentistry vs. Private Practice: The Impact on Your Student Loans. He is a leading student loan expert and financial planner. He makes an excellent case for private practice ownership as the best solution for tackling student loan debt and achieving professional autonomy. Corporate dentistry and DSO offer tempting promises to guarantee a salary, remove the uncertainty of practice ownership and to help pay down debt to entice students right out of school to sign on. The security of these promises sells short the opportunity you have as a private owner to get out of debt sooner and keep more of the revenue you will be generating for yourself.

My experience with dental practice owners over the last 25 years has consistently proven that, with the right plan in place, private ownership is a lucrative and extremely viable option. Students and recently graduated doctors need to consider carefully the current need for good dentists to meet the demand of the public for quality, convenient care. Take some time to evaluate all aspects of committing to a lifelong career in corporate dentistry, or in a DSO managed practice, and get good advice about how your debt and financial goals may be much better managed and attained by owning your own practice.

If you do decide you want to launch a dental practice I can help you avoid common pitfalls, and ensure that you have the guidance and support you need to make a practice growth strategy that is optimal for you. I recommend these 2 steps in your postgraduate plan:

Step 1: Spend 2-5 years getting experience in a private or corporate practice as an associate. This is really part two of your dental education, learning how to be a practicing doctor and learning all you can about business management and operations, clinical skills, and what kind of practice you want to build for yourself.

Step 2: Contact me about two years in to allow yourself time to plan responsibly. Forming a strong relationship with a trusted advisor will help you make a solid 2-4 year plan including financials, location options and all the other issues and concerns that will arise as you proceed. Having the insight and support of an advisor will prove invaluable and save you time, headache and money.

There is no better time to take charge of your future, achieve the productivity and success you’ve always dreamed of, practice state of the art dentistry, and love what you’re doing more than you ever thought was possible!