17 Daily Habits of The Most Successful Dentists – Dental Practice Management

You can spend years and invest millions to be a successful dentist, but that cannot guarantee you a successful career as a dentist. What really matters are the habits that you have in your day to day dental practice.

Being a dentist is not easy.

  1. To be a professional certified dentist one needs to dedicate years for learning the craft and graduate as a dentist.
  2. It again takes some additional years in fine tuning your skills as a dentist. You also need to regularly attend CDE programs to stay updated with the latest developments in dental instruments and treatment modalities.
  3. You also need to regularly attend CDE programs to stay updated with the latest developments in dental instruments and treatment modalities.
  4. There is also the essential requirement to set up your own dental practice at a good location.
  5. Setting up a dental practice also comes with the additional burden to keep it updated in terms of hardware, software, and good patient management.

All the 5 points mentioned above not only require years of dedicated learning but also a considerable amount of financial investment from your end.

But here is the ultimate truth: You can spend years and invest millions to be a successful dentist, but that cannot guarantee you a successful career as a dentist.

What really matters are the habits that you have in your day to day dental practice.

So we asked more than 500 successful dentists (in terms of practice volume and number of years as a dentist) and also extensively searched online resources like Quora & Forums. From their answers, we have prepared this list of:

17 Daily Habits of the Most Successful Dentists

dentist successful habits

1. Dentistry is a Team Work, So be good to your team

Dentistry is never an isolated effort. Running a successful dental practice requires coordination between the dentist, fellow dentists, technician & receptionist.

You as the leader of your dental practice must be respectful and friendly towards everyone working in your practice. Interact with your team and make plans for your dental practice every day. Make this a daily habit and you will see increased efficiency of your teammates that will lead to a successful dental practice.

Interact with your team and make plans for your dental practice every day. Make this a daily habit and you will see increased efficiency of your teammates that will lead to a successful dental practice.

Make this a daily habit and you will see increased efficiency of your teammates that will lead to a successful dental practice.

As stated by Dr. Luke Wolniak (DDS): The team meets every morning and we review the schedule and patients. We discuss financials, treatment needed, and opportunities to see emergencies.

 2. The Willingness to Stay Updated & Learn

Dentistry like every health profession is constantly evolving. There is a constant improvement in the dental materials, dental instruments, and medicines. So, in order to stay at your best in your dental practice, you must be willing to regularly update your dental skills. You will need to attend seminars, CDE programs & learn the new technologies.

You must always look at the opportunities to learn more.

As stated by Dr.Zyl Otago University: Be hungry for knowledge, constantly update yourself with the latest techniques and materials used in dentistry. Attend seminars, conferences, and hands-on courses. Good excuse for a side vacation too.

3. Have a Daily Plan but also be Flexible

Every day in a dental practice involves executing many activities. So, there is the need to have a plan and follow it up. It is very necessary to maintain an order in your practice. But at times there will be the need to innovate and modify when a certain plan is not working out. For that, you need to be flexible.

Ryan Dulde, DDS explains this point well in his article in ASDA: As the owner of a start-up business, my day-to-day schedule varies greatly! Some days are very busy with patient care, while slower days are spent meeting with vendors, marketing the practice or handling administrative duties. I am surprised how much of my daily job isn’t performing dental treatment and how much of my work follows me home at night.

4. A Good Attitude: The Road to Dental Practice Success

For success in any career, a good attitude is essential. There should be a sense of gratitude and a dentist must start every day with a positive frame of mind.

Dr.Jon Aronson is a retired dentist with almost 40 tears of experience in dental practice. In his post, he has very aptly described the importance of attitude from his own experiences.

A good attitude is essential. That sometimes requires divorcing one’s self from home or family or business issues, but every day should begin (and not just practice, but also life in general) with the thoughts of thanks for another day above the ground, alive and cogent and ready to face another day of practice with a great attitude.

Nearly 50 years ago, when I was in dental school, I had a professor who when he would have contact with any of the students would ask, “How’s you PMA?” At first, I looked down to see if my zipper was down, but an older student said that PMA was Positive Mental Attitude.

PMA is essential for dental success and, really, all success in life.

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17 Daily Habits of The Most Successful Dentists

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We are discussing 17 daily habits of successful dentists. Going forward to next 4 points.

5. Do not have the thinking to be a quick millionaire

Every dentist in this world wants to be rich. Money is a great motivator. That makes the dentist stay updated and constantly improve their dental practice to provide better services to the patients.

But this is also very essential that the dentist does not get wrapped up in this notion of getting rich as fast as possible. That creates a huge amount of pressure which sooner or latter will end up affecting your performance as a dentist.

Dr. Douglas Carlsen has said in his study in DentalTown – “Track your spending, at least for your weak areas. Think “frugal” for the first few years out of school and don’t buy the huge house until you have all your other personal and practice debt paid off.”

The key point is to think frugal & control the expenditure. Keep a very close watch on the finances of your dental clinic and personal expenditures. Spend within your limits. You have to understand this is essential for putting a strong financial foundation for your dental practice for the future.

6. Always be alert for Medical Emergencies in your Dental Practice

It does not happen every day in your dental practice. But that does not mean you should not be prepared for it. In a dental practice, you are dealing with invasive procedures like extraction, periodontal surgeries etc.

Dr. Vinita Sishodia says in her post: Be ready to manage any medical emergency, always, while you are in the clinic. Every morning before starting, check your emergency tray.

So always be alert. Do proper investigation to know about any past medical or dental history. Be careful in cases where the patient underlying medical conditions like diabetes, hypertension etc. Keep all the emergency kit tools ready.

7. Have an Entrepreneurial Mindset

Owning and managing a dental practice is similar to managing an enterprise. So, a dentist needs to have an entrepreneurial thinking. What makes an entrepreneurial thinking?

What makes an entrepreneurial thinking for a dentist?

Source: Emerald

  1. A dentist is the CEO of his/her dental practice and must have a control on all the aspects of the dental practice.
  2. A close watch on the financial aspects (expenditure and revenue) of your dental practice.
  3. Always on the look out for creating more opportunities for your dental practice.
  4. The aptitude to build a great team. An efficient team can make any dental practice a great success with time.
  5. Being friendly to everyone working at your dental practice.
  6. Having a mindset to provide the best possible service to your patients. A good customer service is a pillar for every successful enterprise. This is true for a dental practice too.
  7. Always eager to learn and apply newer trends in the dental practice.

Dr. Bill Dorfman, owner of million dollars Discuss Dental & one of the most successful and celebrity dentists in the USA says in an interview with DentistryIQNumber One: Never stop learning. Dentistry is not static. It’s always moving. It’s always changing. They need to continue to learn and grow as dentistry grows.

Number Three: Don’t wait for opportunities. Create them. If you are just waiting around and waiting for people to knock on your door, you’re gonna go broke. You need to create opportunities and when you get those opportunities, you need to really take advantage of them.

8. Build patience, be a listener and have a caring persona

As a dentist you are going to deal with real persons and each person/patient that you interact with will have a different personality. Different types patient personalities you will come across:

  1. Anxious & Nervous patients
  2. Over excited patients.
  3. Over expecting patients.
  4. Children and over-worried parents.
  5. Senior people expecting extra care.

But one point will be common in every type of patient: All will be expecting a dentist to be caring and most importantly to listen to him/her.

So, as a dentist do not get impatient. Do not appear to be in a hurry so that you can start working on the next patient. Do not interrupt the patient when he/she is explaining the dental problem for the first time.

Never lose your cool and appear condescending to the patient.

Listen and then respond with caring & assuring words.

Dr. John Fenn, a very experienced dentist from Australia, states these facts very beautifully in Quora:  I think if you want to be a successful clinician it would help if you actually cared about people. If you care mainly about the money, your patients will know that and stay away. If you can balance both of those attributes you can be a successful Dentist and a successful person.

See Next Slide for the next 4 points on 

17 Daily Habits of The Most Successful Dentists

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We are discussing 17 daily habits of successful dentists.

Going forward to next 4 points.

9. Support Your Support Staff & Have Trust On Them

As mentioned in point number 1 of this article ” Running a Dental Practice is a Team Job”. So you need to empower your support staff so that they can play a better role in your dental practice.

Image from BendDentalWellness Dental Practice

How can you support your support staff?

  1. Have a friendly & caring attitude towards them.
  2. Give them the required respect and realize that they play a role in the success or failure of your dental practice.
  3. Look out for the dedicated support staff and provide them the necessary additional training to help you better. Investment in their training is going to benefit your dental practice a lot.
  4. Teach then simple works like patient counseling, media management, X-Ray management. Also when discussing a case plan, make then a part of the discussion. Sometimes due to a hectic schedule, you might miss some points. In that case, a support team who has been exposed to case planning before will remind you about the missing points. This will prevent you from making any unforced errors.
Dr. Rhonda R Savage, DDS with more than 16 years of experience in private dental practice stresses on this point. She says in her interview with DentalEconomics: Effective and successful dentists let their support staff help. “Many offices struggle in this area. Some doctors do the entire examination process. The point to note is that when the assistant is involved, case acceptance increases. The more the assistant does, the more the doctor can have a handpiece in his or her hands, doing only those things a doctor can do.”

10. Building your Network

For a successful career in dentistry, it is necessary to have good networking skills. The networking should be aimed at increasing the interaction of your dental practice with your future potential clients, previous patients and your local or nearby community.

The goal of the networking is to create a positive buzz around your dental practice. A dentist must never assume that once a dental practice starts lots of patients will come running from the very first day. So enter in your dental practice every day with the thought of how to increase your networking.

Some simple points on “How to build the Network for your Dental Practice?”

  1. The goal of any networking should be to first target your local community. Also, networking can be on a personal basis or via online media. Both are different. By far in-person networking is most effective for dentists.
  2. Attend social functions in & around your community. Give oral health awareness lectures in the nearby NGO. Arrange with schools to provide dental health education to school children.
  3. Attend social events in & around your community where you can interact with the influencers in your community.
  4. Give inspiring advertising on dental health and services at your dental clinic in local newspapers and magazines.
  5. Use online mode of promotions by building a website for your dental practice.
  6. Use social media platforms for your dental practice like facebook, twitter, LinkedIn to connect with the people in your local community.

As stated by Dr.Zyl Otago University: “They say sometimes it is not what you know but who you know and that is very true in dentistry. Networking like in all career fields is just as significant in dentistry for creating new opportunities and help in times of need.”

11. Stay focused on your plan

As a dentist, it is sometimes very hectic managing so many multiple tasks. Amidst all the works it is easy to lose track of your goal. So every day before entering your dental practice, keep reminding yourself your goal. Stay true to your goal of having a dental practice that you will be proud of.

Dr. William W. Oakes, a successful practitioner, in one of his articles for DentalEconomics says: “One of the greatest problems I had in my 24-year career as a dentist was not staying focused on my plan. My practice would be doing great. Then, I would attend a weekend course and come back on Monday and try to change everything. “My weary staff finally learned, ‘Just ignore him … he’ll forget about it by Friday. And they were right! I usually did. Oh, I incorporated a few good ideas, but I never really implemented the entire package and thus I never got the desired results.”

12. Be Ethical & Practice Ethical

We are dentists and it’s our job to help people with dental and oral problems. Finance and social recognition is the by-product of our good work as a dentist.

So, we must always try to be ethical and provide the best possible service to the patients who visit our dental practice. We must also try to give back to our community whenever we can by providing free dental services and awareness programs.

Dr. Richa Singhania from India says in her Quora post:

“Remember that you can save lives and improve the quality of life of your patients. Practice ethically and genuinely. Treat the patients nicely and provide them all the explanation they deserve regarding their treatment. They have the right to know why and what treatment they need to have. Have regular follow-ups [as] needed. Complete the treatment procedures as they should end. This would be enough to achieve your goal.”

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17 Daily Habits of The Most Successful Dentists

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We are discussing 17 daily habits of successful dentists.

Going forward to next 3 points.

13. Be adaptive to adapt to the ever-changing dentistry

As we discussed in point number 2 dentistry is a dynamic profession.

The dental science is ever changing.

  1. Treatment modalities keep changing.
  2. Dental instruments keep on evolving.
  3. Treatment procedures which were common a decade back are getting replaced by new procedures.
  4. Medicines keep on evolving.
  5. A decade back practice management meant manual works. But in the present day, dental practice management is synonymous to the application of software.

So, to succeed in dental practice, a dentist needs to adapt to the changing scenarios mentioned above.

Dr. Vladimir Chistoprudov, an experienced dentist, in his book “7 Habits of successful dentists” mentions this point about being proactive and adaptive.

“Proactive dentists are dentists who are open-minded to new techniques and procedures. Have you ever heard of a dentist that always says, ‘No, that can’t be done’ or ‘No, that won’t work’ when you mention a new dental procedure or talk about an oral health care product? …“If you want to be an effective dentist, be proactive! Be up for more challenges that will help you become the most competitive version of yourself.

14. Do not enter into price war with the neighboring dentist

In many parts of the world its common for the dentists to enter into a price war with the neighboring dentists. It is more common in Asian countries where there has been a sudden rise in the number of dentists. In many aspects, it is a very unhealthy aspect that if affecting dentistry.

Rather that using such negative tactics, dentists should improve their dental practice to a greater level and quote the price they feel they deserve.

Just be sure to never quote a minimum price. It is essential that you quote the correct price.

As Dr. Varun Bajaj says in his article on Practices in Dental Practice: Dentists must try to move ahead by providing a better service, interaction, and treatment. Not by trying to reduce the prices of the treatment below the market price.

15. Be Aware of the Consumer Protection Laws

All the dental practices in every country are governed by laws of that country. The laws have been placed to protect the rights of the consumer/patients against any malpractice. At the same time, there are also laws that are placed to protect the health professionals including dentists against false claims and allegations.

So, irrespective of any country you are located, always stay updated with the consumer protection laws.

Dr. Don (a practitioner with 10 years of experience) states this in his comments:

  1. Make a daily habit to keep all the records in your dental practice organized.
  2. Install a CCTV camera in your dental practice as a video proof to negate any false claims by patients or relatives.
  3. Always take proper medical/allergic history of the patient and note them down in the records.
  4. Before any procedure, explain them properly to the patient. Take their consent.
  5. Always be careful with the official prescription of your dental practice. It can be misused by others.

Every country has their own sets of laws. So, depending on your country of dental practice, stay aware of the consumer protection laws on daily basis.

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17 Daily Habits of The Most Successful Dentists

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We have covered 15 daily habits needed for a dentist to be successful.

In this final slide, we will cover the final 2 points of this article.

16. Maintain a Cordial relationship with all the peripheral persons related to your dental practice

A dental practice set up in its core has a dentist and the supporting team. But there is also the requirement of many other people who act in the periphery and are also very crucial for a dental practice to run smoothly. Who are these people?

  1. Your dental material and equipment supplier.
  2. The lab technicians where you sent your denture and crown preparations.
  3. Your attorney (who is a specialist in consumer laws and is essential to protect your practice from false allegations)
  4. Dental practice management software and the support people.
  5. The waste management people who manage the biowastes produced in your dental clinic.
  6. The web designer who designs and maintains your dental practice website.

All these people are necessary to run a smooth dental practice. So, maintain a cordial relationship with all of them. Never delay any payments to your suppliers and others. That creates a very negative impression about your work ethics.

At the same time never let them take you for granted. Just the way you are prompt with their payments, be strict that they also do the work they are supposed to do. If they don’t then you should not hesitate to hire someone else.

Dr. John Fenn again states this in a very clear manner in his Quora post: Remember that you are the source of the pie. All your helpers and suppliers and insurance companies and equipment guys and myriads of other people are all living off the products of your brain and your hands. Nothing they do matters if you don’t do your part, and you can’t work without (some) of them. So make sure you get your share of that pie. Because they will take it all away from you if you are not careful. My staff do not work for me, as much as I work for them, and dozens of other people as well.

17. Maintain a Balance between Professional Work and Personal Life

You must have heard the saying: All work and no play make jack a dull boy.

Well, this saying can be applied to dentists also. Dentistry as a profession has it’s stress points. A dentist needs to unwind to keep performing at an optimal best in his career.

Also never forget or neglect your friends or family citing a busy schedule of a dentist. You might be busy (which is a good thing) but you must also make time for close people in your life. After all, one of the goals of all the hard work that you are putting is to provide a better life for and with your family. So, never miss out on a chance to spend quality times with your family. This keeps you motivated, happy & humble.

Assign yourself regular holidays and free times on weekends.

Find hobbies that you have left behind in your efforts to excel in dentistry, for example, that guitar which you last played in your college days. Also, invest time in providing community services in your locality that does not have any monetary benefits. Such works have a great soothing effect on your soul.

As Dr. Aronson states in his Quora post: “Find hobbies that you enjoy, learn to play an instrument and that will help with the stress and also help to keep your hand(s) learning new things.Treat the old, as if they are your parents. Treat the young as you would want your children treated. Remember you have a family and spend time with your family.”

Dr.John Fenn again adds a very personal experience:

Get away from dentistry regularly. I used to work 6 days a week, my boss cut me down to 4 days a week, and I made more money. 43 years later I am doing 3 1/2 days a week and making more money. And I take 4X2 week holidays a year.

After 7 weeks at Dentistryyour income drops below profit. Take a break and come back and your income goes back up to profit, for 7 weeks.


That concludes this long post on 17 Daily habits for Successful Dentists. We have tried to cover as many points as we could with references. We welcome your views and your experience on the topic.

The Takeaway points:

Success in any career is dependant upon the everyday activities that you carry out. Success is not an overnight phenomenon. It is built day by day. So, start applying these daily habits mentioned by successful and experienced dentists at the earliest. Soon success will be knocking your door.