4 common mistakes new dentists must avoid

By | February 5, 2016

Getting out of dental school and working in a private practice is an exciting time. Unfortunately, it also means a huge learning curve for young dentists. I was no different! As seasoned dentists go on to mentor our younger peers, there is a growing trend of four common mistakes that I see new dentists make.

1. Lack of Focus on Staff Training and Documentation.

Dr. Kenyon Glor Headshot[1]Your staff wants to do a great job (if they don’t, it’s time to part ways quickly). Everybody wants a smooth-running office and stress levels that are as low as possible. Nobody feels good when the ball is dropped.

The key is making sure your staff knows what is expected. Simply put, training staff on what to do in certain situations and getting them accustomed to writing everything down will save you a lot of headaches. Having written job descriptions and responsibilities as well ensures everybody is on the same page and will make dealing with future issues much easier.

2. Being Overly-Critical.

Over the years, all dentists have treatment results that, when evaluated outside the confines of the office, have been less than ideal. When the difficulties of the appointment are considered – gagging, constant movement, a patient who can’t open (just to name a few) – it’s amazing anything was done at all!

Critical remarks will lead to places you really don’t want to go, and will destroy patients trust and confidence in you. Some patients will try to lead you to the dark side – don’t go there. Quickly show the positive solution to the patient’s problem you are trying to achieve, and move on.

Bottom line: be honest, find the positives, and avoid criticism. This will lead to a cohort of happy and trusting patients.

3. Poor Patient Follow Up.

Building trust and relationships with patients is absolutely critical. A follow up call the evening of an appointment is effective, unexpected, and simple. If there are no issues, the call reinforces how well everything went. If there are issues, you can be reassuring and deal with any problems before they snowball into bigger ones.

Don’t delegate these calls! It is important the calls come from you. If a patient sees you, they get a call. Start making these calls today and see your practice’s retention rate increase over time.

4. Not Referring To A Specialist When Necessary.

There aren’t many things as embarrassing or that can dissolve trust and confidence as having to punt and refer in the middle of a procedure. On the other hand, referring beforehand can build trust and make your life much easier. The key is careful patient selection with everything you do. Know your skill level and don’t exceed it. Use your specialist partners for support.

The great news is that as you gain experience, your skill and comfort level will improve quickly, and the cases you once thought difficult will become routine.

The first years of practicing are very hard but very exciting. Don’t forget all the simple things, and be sure to avoid these common mistakes and you’ll be great!


Dr. Glor is a Wellington, Ohio dentist and has been practicing there for 27 years. He is passionate about dentistry and dedicated to providing you with unsurpassed skills and a dental experience that allows you to enjoy a beautiful, healthy smile for a lifetime.

8 thoughts on “4 common mistakes new dentists must avoid

  1. Andy Kwasny, ADA Third District Trustee

    Great advice. Morning huddles for staff on a weekly basis to review and learn from patient experiences, follow-up phone calls and trying to accept improvement instead of perfection are all valuable lessons, regardless of how long you have been in practice.

  2. Bauer Dentistry

    Really agree on how you state that “critical remarks will lead to places you really don’t want to go, and will destroy patients trust and confidence in you.” This is true and one must stay positive to really thrive as a dentist.

  3. Dr. Nguyen

    This is definitely very important information for new dentists. Having a good connection with your patients is key to keep them coming back and feeling less stressed about visiting your office.

  4. Lizzy

    Thanks for publishing this nice information with us. The procedure for common dental treatments are different but the things like proper documentation, Focus, Follow ups are mostly same in each treatment. These factors shows the specialty of a dentist and builds trust on patient.

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