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Deadline approaches for new investigator award standards research

The ADA is accepting applications until Sept. 30 for the John W. Stanford New Investigator Award for Standards-Related Research Paper.

Dental students and dentists who earned their dental degree no earlier than 2010 and dentists pursuing an additional degree or specialty can apply.

Submissions should include an original standards-related research report that has been completed within the award calendar year but not published; a standards-related article that was published within the award calendar year; and a standards-related poster that was presented within the award calendar year.

Submissions must include an explanation of how the research incorporates current dental standards and/or contributes to the development of dental standards.

Dr. Robert Yau was the 2014 winner. He presented in March his winning project, “Influence of Core/Veneer Thickness Ratios on Failure of Bilayered Dental Ceramic Crown Systems,” at the ADA Standards Committee on Dental Products annual meeting in Boston.

The 2015 winner will receive airfare and a two-night hotel stay to present his or her award-winning paper in Los Angeles at the March 2016 ADA Standards Committee on Dental Products and the U.S. Technical Advisory Group to the International Organization for Standardization Technical Committee 106 on Dentistry Meeting. The winner will also be announced in ADA News and the winning paper will be eligible for publication in a dental journal.

For more information or to apply, visit ADA.org/dentalstandards.

Study: Reading ‘can help reduce stress’

booksUniversity of Sussex researchers found that reading is one of the best ways to relax, and even six minutes can be enough to reduce the stress levels by more than two-thirds, according to The Telegraph.

Reading also works better and faster than other methods such as listening to music, going for a walk or settling down with a cup of tea, researchers found.

Psychologists believe, the article said, this is because the human mind has to concentrate on reading and the distraction of being taken into a literary world eases the tensions in muscles and the heart.

To read the full article, click here.

What book are you currently reading?

Tips to safeguard your practice from computer hackers

Prevention goes a long way when it comes to reducing or eliminating computer hacking of business and personal computers that are used at your practice.

HackersWhile not the most common form of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act breach, hacking and other IT in incidents, such as phishing or malware infections, can create a serious program for health care providers.

The Center for Professional Success offers the following tips tohelp keep your office computer network safe.

Be proactive — 10 ways to protect sensitive data on business and personal computers:
• Download and begin using full-disk encryption software.
• Password-protect files containing Protected Health Information or Personally Identifiable Information.
• Consider obtaining cyber liability insurance.
• Avoid unnecessarily downloading files containing PHI or PII onto your computer’s hard drive.
• Do not collect any unnecessary PII from patients.
• Purchase anti-malware/anti-virus software and set it to run every night.
• Regularly check for and install security updates.
• Adopt an emergency action plan to handle cyber security breaches in your office.
• Understand and comply with applicable laws, regulations and contractual obligations, such as HIPAA and state data security law.
• Provide comprehensive employee training on preventing and responding to security breaches.

Increase awareness — Seven ways to determine if your computer and/or sensitive data have been compromised.
• Your anti-malware/anti-virus program discovered spyware or viruses on your system.
• Your bank accounts were accessed as the result of a phishing scam.
• New programs or unfamiliar files have been installed on your computer.
• Login credentials for any website have been changed without your knowledge.
• You experience frequent, random pop-up windows with ads or system warnings.
• You have been told that spam is being sent from your email account.
• Your computer is running slower than normal and a system restart doesn’t fix this issue.

Take immediate action when necessary — Five things you should do if you suspect you’ve been hacked:
• Don’t panic. The installation of malware or a virus infection doesn’t always mean that sensitive data was improperly accessed.
• Don’t shut down your computer. Malware often resides in a computer’s memory and not the hard drive. Turning off the computer will erase the memory, and with it, evidence of the cyber attack.
• Back up your most important files and data onto an external hard drive.
• Run anti-malware/anti-virus on all network computers because an infection on one computer could affect others in the same network.
• Determine if the affected computer held PHI and/or PII of patients or employees. If it did, determine who in your practice needs to made aware of the incident and when to inform these individuals, contact a computer expert to investigate the extent of the problem and call your attorney for legal guidance on state and federal breach notification laws.

One technique to address five features in dentistry

It is mechanized isolation and suction. We have all heard about it, seen advertisements, read about it, and many dentists are now using it. I won’t mention specific brand names or expound on the different systems but I do want to go over the topic of mechanized isolation systems.

Dr. Moon

Dr. Moon

Developments in isolation and procedure techniques are changing dentistry — FAST. For centuries, dentists have been trained and coached in treatment delivery techniques that employ a four-handed approach requiring an assistant to be consistently present chairside. However, things change. Whether it is automobile manufacturing processes or heart bypass surgery techniques, things change over time. I believe dentistry is in the first 10 years of what will probably be at least a 20-30 year process of transitioning to consistently employing and teaching mechanized suction and isolation techniques.

Though human assistants are vitally important to the delivery of dentistry and will probably always be needed for certain aspects of care, consistent use of mechanized isolation systems quickly addresses at least five crucial areas in an ever-changing field:

1. Consistency: Use of mechanized isolation systems does not eliminate human factors but it does decrease their impact. Consistently being able to “work in” an emergency patient although your assistant is busy can help in an environment where it seems many patients are less loyal to their long time provider and ready to see the first dentist that will get them in for treatment.

2. CAD/CAM: Mechanized isolation systems are not only good for the dentists. Anyone, including assistants, working with modern CAD/CAM dentistry or digital impression techniques can benefit.

3. Overhead Expenses: Costs of supplies and providing treatment consistently go one direction—up. Save on overhead by using mechanized isolation systems, or put that savings toward paying that really great assistant or hygienist to help you in multiple rooms instead of sitting chairside throughout entire procedures.

4. Resin Restorations: I was consistently taught in school that though most people don’t really want amalgam restorations these days, amalgam restorations are beneficial because they can be stronger to occlusal forces over time, and sometimes-in a wet environment-you just can’t place a good resin restoration. Well, the wet environment situation just doesn’t happen as often when I use mechanized isolation techniques and I have found 90  percent of my patients prefer “tooth colored” restorations.

5. Surgery: Performing surgical procedures for patients in need can not only help a lot of people, but also be a huge practice builder. I have found that I can consistently perform surgical procedures with mechanized isolation and suction that would definitely require sedation and a throat-pack otherwise. The difference for the patient can be thousands of dollars saved, and weeks less of discomfort. People seem to be getting less patient and more “Who can help me NOW?” oriented. When you can produce consistent safe results for patients in emergency situations everyone wins.

Incorporation of mechanized isolation systems and delivery techniques can be very beneficial to patients, dentists and dental team members. Give it some thought.

Dr. Brenden Moon is a New Dentist Now guest blogger and currently serves as Chair of the Illinois State Dental Society New Dentist Committee and sits on the Board of the Illinois Academy of General Dentistry. He began practicing in western Illinois after completing dental school at the University of Mississippi in 2007, and enjoys participating in organized dentistry on the state and national level. Dr. Moon practices in both Public Health and Private Practice settings and is a Fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry, International College of Dentists, Academy of Dentistry International, and the Pierre Fauchard Academy.

So you want to be a practice owner someday: Managing debt to ensure practice success

Editor’s note: This is the seventh and final article in a summer series of New Dentist Now blog posts on practice ownership from Wells Fargo Practice Finance, the practice lender endorsed by ADA Business Resources. To read other articles from the series, click here.

Wells FargoFor most dental professionals, incurring significant debt while completing dental school and acquiring a practice is an inevitable part of becoming successful. The trick is to recognize the types of debt so you can effectively evaluate where you stand – and manage your debt to your best advantage. It is common to think that you are better off financially if you eliminate your debt, which is true with regards to credit cards, auto loans, student loans or other debt that does not help to generate revenue. But there is such a thing as “positive debt” – debt that is used to invest in income-producing activity.

Some types of debt can overwhelm your success

Let’s say that after purchasing your dental practice, you are paying $5,856 per month to cover both business and personal debt, including an office remodel, auto loan, student loan and home mortgage, for a total loan balance of $450,000. Now assume you want to buy a new, advanced piece of equipment priced at $125,000 and the vendor is offering financing with payments of $2,610 per month. This would bring your combined monthly payments to $8,466.

Originial loan

Suppose this new payment wipes out any excess funds you were planning to put towards your retirement. You would now have to consider whether to wait to purchase the new equipment so that you do not jeopardize your retirement funding, cover the additional payment with increased production, or put off saving for retirement. The new equipment loan can therefore hamper your ability to save.

To avoid this kind of debt management crisis and ensure you’re effectively managing your debt situation, work with a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) to develop a broad financial picture of long-term personal and business goals. Be sure your plan includes an assets and liabilities spreadsheet, profit and loss statement, and a plan for large annual debt expenditures.

Working with your lender to create “positive” debt

A specialized dental lender can help transform a financial liability into “positive” debt that still allows you to accumulate security and wealth. This may be accomplished through a consolidated loan that minimizes interest and total payments.

Using the example above, assume your lender offers a consolidation loan for $225,000 to cover new equipment and remodeling, and a home equity loan with a somewhat longer term to cover your auto and student loans. The new loan reduces your total monthly payment to $6,891, for a savings of $3,001 a month.

Consolidated Loan

If you invest this difference monthly, you may eventually have a healthy fund for your retirement. Or, you can use this savings to reinvest in your practice, including:

  • Technology investment. You might use your new-found funds to leverage the purchase of advanced technology that allows you to expand your services and make your practice more competitive.
  • Enhanced marketing. Reinvesting your added cash in a well-thought-out marketing program can potentially lead to more patients and procedures for your practice. If well-planned and executed, your expanded marketing efforts should generate additional cash flow.
  •  Accelerated Debt Payoff.  Some doctors take advantage of lower interest rates to accelerate their debt reduction program and become a debt free practice more quickly.

By managing your debt situation through the use of long-term financial planning and, if necessary, loan consolidation with a specialized dental lender, you can move a long way towards building a successful practice that meets your ultimate goals.

¹Interest rates cited are indicative only. Actual interest rates depend on your creditworthiness.

Research: Practice setting may determine dentists’ satisfaction

HPIBig or small, there are pros and cons to working in various dental practice settings, and dentists measure their career satisfaction in different ways.

Researchers found that dentists working in large group settings reported more satisfaction with income and benefits than dentists in solo practices, as well as less stress compared to dentists in solo or small practices, according to ADA News.

The ADA Health Policy Institute released a study analyzing dentists’ job satisfaction within different practice settings, finding that those working in small group settings reported the highest overall career satisfaction.

HPI also released two additional studies on group practices, with one finding differences among two types of large group practice settings and the other discussing the growth in large dental practices’ market share.

“In large practice settings, providers may lose autonomy and feel enhanced pressure to produce revenue when making treatment decisions,” according to the authors. “They may have less flexible hours and schedules that could cause dissatisfaction. Conversely, they may benefit from administrative assistance, which can allow for having more predictable income and hours.

“Dentists working in solo or small group practices may have more autonomy; however, they are not immune to pressures to produce revenue, and they may have to perform more administrative tasks on top of their clinical duties. Running a small business may not suit every dentist; the burdens of financing, fixed costs and reimbursement could lead to dissatisfaction even among dentists in solo practice.”

To read more on the study, click here.

Dentist employment agreements seminar video

Jeffrey Fraum, senior associate general counsel for the American Dental Association, presented an overview of dental employment agreements to dental students at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

signing a document“You guys deal with contracts all the time. You click through contracts [online] and you get them at the bank. Nobody’s got the time to read them all, but your employment agreement is one you should really look at,” Mr. Fraum said.

In his 30-minute presentation, posted in the ADA Center for Professional Success website, Mr. Fraum addresses key legal provisions in dental employment agreements. He ends his presentation by giving the attendees a copy of “Dentist Employment Agreements: A Guide to Key legal Provisions.”

To view the presentation, click here.

Creating positive space: An essential for your office environment

This post is for Tiffani Horton, and for everyone else who is fighting a battle on the inside.

I’m against watching the news. Other people can watch the news all they want to. That’s fine. I just don’t want to watch it myself.

Dr. Vaughn

Dr. Vaughn

I don’t want to watch the news because buried in every news reel is a sad story. A story that reminds me I’m not invincible, I live in an imperfect world, and that sometimes bad things happen that I cannot control.

And unfortunately, regardless of whether or not you watch the news . . . sometimes a sad story still finds you.

In dental school, you rotate through many clinics. You meet a lot of faculty and a lot of patients and a lot of staff. And what’s nice about all this is that the conversations aren’t always about what X-rays you want to take or whether or not you’ve made the right diagnosis. Sometimes you talk about your weekend or what you plan to do once you graduate or how good the new restaurant in town is. You form this unique bond with all these different people, and it eventually creates this special thing with its own label.

The other night, a good friend sent me a message that told a sad story. Someone from my dental school had just lost her battle with cancer. Her name was Tiffani. A dental assistant that I, along with everyone else in my class, had weekly interactions with.

Ms. Tiffani Horton

Ms. Tiffani Horton

Tiffani was more than a name or a dental assistant. She was a friend, a wife, a mother, a person with thoughts and wants and emotions and ambitions. She talked to some of us like she had known us for years. She helped some of us get patients so we could take our licensing exam and become dentists. She was very much a part of our dental school family.

But the thing about all of this is that I had no idea that Tiffani was fighting this battle. She had liver cancer and was undergoing chemo. All while I was still in school. There were conversations I’m sure that we had, where she was living with this horrible disease . . . and I did not know.

Buried in every news reel is a sad story. But what I’m learning is that buried in every sad story is a truth that I need to know.

Because me and you and everyone we know are all the same. We all have bad days. We get bad news. We go through hard times. We hit rock bottom. And then we have to go out in public and try to be strong and keep it together.

Tiffani teaches us that you never really know what someone is going through.

What does that mean for us as we try and figure out this New Dentist world? It means that we have the vital responsibility of being aware. Of keeping social sensitivity as a priority within our practices. Because our staff will have bad days. Our patients will tell us horrible stories from their pasts. Our business partner might be dealing with chemo treatment or secretly going through a heart-wrenching divorce.

And as people who have dedicated their careers to serving others, we need to create space that allows people to escape the troubles of their daily lives. What does this look like? At its core, it’s being aware and paying attention. Picking up those social cues from your staff. Treating everyone in your office with the care and respect they deserve. Not letting your own troubles affect the way you talk to and interact with the people around you.

From the modern corporate office in Chicago to the paper-chart practice in rural Alabama, you can contribute to making the world a better place just by changing the environment of your dental office. A good dental office is one where honesty, respect, care and love are infused in its fabric.

Because you never really know what another person might be going through.

Dr. Joe Vaughn is a New Dentist Now guest blogger. He grew up in Alabama and recently graduated from The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry in 2015. He now lives in Seattle, Washington, where he attends the General Practice Residency at the University of Washington. Two cups of coffee, writing and indie music are everyday occurrences for Joe. Go Seahawks and Roll Tide!

So you want to be a practice owner someday: Building and managing your cash flow

Editor’s note: This is the sixth article in a summer series of New Dentist Now blog posts on practice ownership from Wells Fargo Practice Finance, the practice lender endorsed by ADA Business Resources. To read other articles from the series, click here.

Wells FargoYour dental practice is a valuable and beneficial investment that can be an important resource for generating cash flow. Simply defined, cash flow is the difference between your monthly revenue and monthly expenses. This is the figure that determines your net income, or the amount you will earn from running your business. Here are a number of ways to build and manage your monthly cash flow from Wells Fargo Practice Finance, the practice lender endorsed by ADA Business Resources.

Manage your financing term

The financing term, meaning the time over which your debt is payable, for your dental practice purchase or start-up may be more important than you imagined. A dental practice is a cash flow based business, and choosing financing that supports your cash flow can be critical to creating a sound financial future.

Most lenders or banks provide a maximum loan term of seven years, which may in fact allow enough cash flow to pay expenses and income while paying off your debt in a shorter period of time. However, if you could have a term that was almost 50 percent longer, such as a 10-year term, you would have a substantial increase in your monthly cash flow. For example, when you borrow $300,000, the difference between a seven-year note and a 10-year note is approximately $1,200 per month. If you opt for the 10-year term, the added savings to your annual cash flow would be approximately $14,400 per year! And, all of the interest you pay on the note can be used as a line item expense and written off against the revenue of the practice, along with the depreciation of the principal amount.*

Consolidate your debt

If you have existing debt that’s over five years old, another option for creating cash flow is a debt consolidation loan. By taking advantage of lower interest rates, you can lower your monthly loan payment and redirect your savings towards your dental practice. However, it would be wise to move quickly on this option as interest rates are poised to rise.

To qualify for debt consolidation financing, you will need to maintain an excellent personal credit profile and be able to demonstrate that your cash flow can support and meet a lender’s minimum standards for the level of financing for which you are applying.

Expand practice capabilities

On its face this may seem counterintuitive: How does taking on new debt to expand your practice help generate additional cash flow?  The key is to structure your expansion so it pays for your debt.

Adding square footage as well as new dental services generates both higher fees and increased patient flow.  While you may need to consider bringing in an associate to help manage increased patient flow, more overall production for your practice ultimately means greater cash flow. And if you are able to add specialty services while expanding your practice, you have doubled your opportunity to improve your income. The debt you incur to expand your practice can usually be paid for by the increased traffic flow and level of services – particularly if combined with a Section 179 tax deduction.*

Reinvest with a practice equity loan

If you have owned your practice for three or more years, you have equity that you can use to generate cash flow and reinvest in your business. Whether you need to purchase equipment, fund a partnership transition, or pay for education, tapping into your equity may give you the cash flow you need to work towards growing your business or securing your future. Some lenders offer practice equity loans up to $500,000 depending on the value of your practice, with terms up to 10 years.

*Consult your tax advisor and/or accountant for a statement of tax and accounting rules applicable to your particular situation and for all other tax and accounting advice.

New dentist among ‘Top 25 Women in Dentistry 2015’

Dental Products Report named Dr. Andrea Janik, District 15 ADA New Dentist Committee member, among the “Top 25 Women in Dentistry 2015.”

Dr. Janik

Dr. Janik

In its sixth year, the list was designed to recognize women from across the dental industry, including dental professionals, industry leaders and practitioners.

Dr. Janik, of San Antonio, is a dental practice owner in the Pacific Dental Services Group.

“Her practice is one of the top performing practices in the company,” according to her nominator. “She also serves organized dentistry at all levels.”

To read more about Dr. Janik and the others on the list, click here.

Each of the honorees will be featured in the October edition of Dental Products Report.