Five Tips to Keep Mouths Healthy This Halloween

Halloween is coming up soon, which for many children (and adults) means celebrating the holiday with candy and other sweet treats. While it’s fun to enjoy the holiday, parents should be mindful that sugary foods can increase the risk of tooth decay, which is the most common chronic disease for children and adolescents. 

When you eat or drink foods containing sugars, the bacteria in plaque produce acids that attack tooth enamel, and over time this can cause tooth decay, the breakdown of tooth enamel and lead to cavities.

The good news is that you can let your children enjoy the holiday and teach them good oral health habits that they can benefit from during any holiday season.

So, before you take your kids to Halloween parties or trick-or-treating, download these five tricks to help their teeth healthy

And of course, continue to practice ongoing oral health care, including flossing daily, brushing teeth twice a day and visiting your Florida Dental Association member dentist regularly. To find your FDA member dentist, visit

Decrypting the Buzz Around Email Cybersecurity

By: Robert McDermott, President and CEO, iCoreConnect

Do you feel like you’re hearing a lot about ransomware, phishing and hacking these days? You’re not imagining an increase in these buzzwords. They’re popping everywhere: news media, compliance reports, technology and trade journals, and the list goes on. It’s important to recognize that these words are more than just the latest media buzz. They’re real threats.

Cybercrimes remain a problem for dental and medical professionals with little sign of going away anytime soon. The primary ways your practice can be compromised are through your IT infrastructure and your email. The weakest link in the chain, however, is people.

Criminals have become quite effective at using malicious email to exploit human vulnerability and gain access to protected health information (PHI). When an email comes in posing as a trusted source like a bank, an online payment site or even a social networking site, your staff needs to know what to do … and what not to do. Every day, cybercriminals successfully steal everything from patient and insurance records to passwords, social security numbers, credit card information and account numbers. These kinds of attacks are called “phishing.” They are designed to get you to click a link, call a number or respond with personal information.

Educate your staff on what to look for in a phishing attack. The Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Division explains that phishing emails and text messages often tell a story to trick you into clicking on a link or opening an attachment. These emails may:

  • say they’ve noticed some suspicious activity or login attempts.
  • claim there’s a problem with your account or your payment information.
  • say you must confirm some personal information.
  • include a fake invoice.
  • want you to click on a link to make a payment.
  • say you’re eligible to register for a government refund.
  • offer a coupon for free stuff.

As a dental health provider, confirm that every email with any connection to PHI, payments, passwords or other sensitive information is being sent through a secure, HIPAA-compliant email service.

Not sure how to know? Check to make sure your secure email service uses its own private network to transmit messages, not the public internet. You also will know if your email is fully secure and compliant based on the way email communication is initiated. If your practice must initiate the first message in an email conversation, then your system is highly secure. The security key is that no one can randomly email you or your staff if you haven’t sent a secure email to them first. That eliminates phishing and hacking because cybercriminals can’t reach you. Once you have that first email interaction with another doctor, pharmacy, patient, etc., your workflow is the same as any other email.

If you are sending PHI via Google, verify you are using the paid version, Google Workspace Gmail. Even if you have some security steps in place on a non-paid Gmail address, you are most likely neither HIPAA compliant nor protecting your patient’s records. You may want to consider using Gmail, and other similar services, for sending everything that isn’t PHI or sensitive information. Secure and non-secure emails often can be accessed in the same email interface requiring only one login to access all your email accounts.

So, what happens if your email isn’t secure and someone in your office clicks a link? Well, you’ve just left the back door unlocked and let a cybercriminal sneak into your business. Once a cybercriminal gets into your system, usually without detection, they have one goal: wreak havoc to get money. They can lock up your entire records system and hold it for ransom, usually requiring payment in bitcoin. Thousands of attacks are launched every day with good success. It’s a scenario you don’t want to deal with. Fortunately, it’s also preventable.

Teach your staff or bring in an IT managed services provider (MSP) to talk with your office about the best practices to prevent phishing scams. Learn to identify a suspicious email and report it to your IT or MSP team. Most importantly, never click on buttons/links, call the listed phone number or respond to the message, especially with personal information.

Replace your current moderately secure email service with a truly secure, HIPAA-compliant email and you’ll significantly decrease the risk of your data being accessed through email.

Cybersecurity, phishing and ransomware are more than buzzwords. They represent identity theft, credit card and bank account access, and the loss of patient trust. Prevent access. Use secure email. Stay off the radar of those looking to profit off your practice. These simple steps can save you headaches and heartbreaks from having PHI stolen or captured and then paying a high ransom to get your practice up and running again.

FDA Services endorses iCoreExchange HIPAA-compliant email. iCoreExchange not only meets or exceeds every compliance and security requirement, but it also allows you to attach as many large files as you want to any single email. Speed up your workflow, protect patients and your practice. Check out this convenient and compliant service or call 888.810.7706. FDA members receive a substantial discount on iCoreExchange.

4 Cybersecurity Awareness Tips

FDA Services (FDAS) has seen an alarming increase in cyberattacks on dental offices in the past few years. This year has especially had a sharp increase, which is why they’ve partnered with Coalition Insurance to bring our members cybersecurity and insurance. Even if you choose not to use Coalition Insurance as your cyber insurance provider, please make sure you have this coverage in place! They recommend, at the minimum, $250 per patient record in coverage. 

Below are four cybersecurity awareness tips from our friends at Coalition:

The FDAS experienced staff is ready to get to work for you — call or text 850.681.2996 or email to connect to our agents today. 

How (and Why) to Prepare for Tough Questions When Selling or Hiring

by Dr. Suzanne Ebert, VP Dental Practice & Relationship Management

What kind of impression does your practice make?

Whether you’re selling or hiring, your success hinges on what potential buyers or hires think about your practice. And that impression often goes beyond the initial curb appeal. (See: 5 Easy Ways to Boost Your Practice’s Curb Appeal.)

When dentists are looking to join a new practice, whether as an owner or associate, they’re wise to look beyond that first impression. In fact, a smart candidate will take the time to dig deeper to see how well the practice runs. After all, the practice could become their professional home!

Think about buying a home. Even if the house is professionally landscaped and freshly painted, you’re going to look at the details and ask questions. In fact, you probably hire a professional to help you investigate all the house’s systems. How old is the furnace? Does the roof have any signs of damage? Are there hints of foundation problems? You ask all these questions to ensure that the home you’re about to invest in will be right for you — comfortable and secure, with no messy surprises.

Someone joining a practice should do the same thing. By investigating how well the practice runs, they can ensure that the practice they’re investing their time and/or money in will be right for them — comfortable and secure, with no messy surprises.

Great Candidates Ask Tough Questions

If someone asks tough questions, don’t be offended or put off. Rather, realize that the candidate is trying to ensure that the practice is right for them — and that they share your vision of success. If they take the job and discover that outdated collections policies delay their payments by months, they will not be happy. Nor do they want to discover that they have a different vision of how the dental team should work together.

A candidate who asks tough questions or wants to see the details is typically more invested in the practice’s success than one who accepts things at face value. By doing their due diligence, the candidate is ensuring that they can succeed in the practice — and contribute to the practice’s overall success.

So if you’re preparing to sell or hire, pay attention to the details and be prepared to answer candidates’ questions. Better yet, use the examples below to showcase how great your practice really is! Doing so can infuse a candidate with the confidence they need to accept your offer.

Document Strong Policies to Indicate That the Practice is Well Run

While a potential buyer will absolutely ask about the practice’s collections policies, smart associates will, too. After all, they want to know how they will get paid. Make sure your policies are clearly documented. As an owner, you should ask yourself:

  • When was the last time I reviewed the collections policies? Do they account for all our current payers? If there are high rates of rejection, consider making changes.
  • Which plans are accepted? When did I last review this?
  • When did I last update the fee schedules? (Check out the ADA’s Survey of Dental Fees, free to members.)

Take some time to review all your policies. Work with your business manager, CPA or other team members to make any necessary updates. An owner who can show current, thoughtful policies is more likely to be taken seriously by potential buyers and associates.

Define Team Members’ Roles and Interactions

Even tiny practices need a basic employee manual that spells out each team member’s responsibilities. After all, roles can vary between practices. In one practice, dental assistants may provide the doctor with four-handed assistance from start to finish, while in others they may place and polish restorations themselves.

Incoming dentists may be used to dental assistants performing all the functions allowed by their state’s dental practice act, and be surprised if they don’t. Remember, the way the staff perform their jobs greatly affects day-to-day work for the dentist. A disconnect could lead to frustration.

Need help creating or updating an employee manual? See the ADA Practical Guide to Creating and Updating an Employee Policy Manual.

Create a Plan for Expansion or Transition

Have you thought through how the new dentist will be incorporated into your practice? Having a plan — and talking about it during the interview process — can make or break a successful transition. Again, an incoming dentist wants to know that they will be set up to succeed when they join your practice.

Ideally, you should think through these points before you begin your search. But it’s never too late. Develop a plan that answers these questions:

  • How will they get patients? Will you reallocate existing patients, or will they need to recruit? If the latter, will you support that effort with marketing or other resources?
  • What will their production targets be? Consider setting a schedule to review and adjust these targets as needed, perhaps after three or six months.
  • Which operatories will the new dentist work from? Will they have designated staff?

Involve your current staff in your plan. Make sure they understand that they are crucial to the practice’s success. Their cooperation can help the new dentist start strong. Clearly articulate how you intend to allocate treatments. Ensure that they know why you are hiring this particular person so they can share that confidence with patients.

Our What Went Wrong: The Practice Wasn’t Ready for an Associate post details more ways that you can prepare your practice for a new dentist.

Prepare for a Successful Transition

Whether you’re selling or hiring, it’s worth investing some time to put your practice in the best light possible. Try to envision your practice as a new dentist and be honest with yourself: Are things organized? Does the practice run smoothly? What policy or process changes might improve the practice’s overall success? Your long-standing team may also have valuable suggestions!

Then, as you approach your transition, create your free ADA Practice Transitions profile. We recently expanded our dentist matching platform to serve dentists nationwide, and can help you find the right dentist for your practice. And when you sign up, you gain access to an ADA Advisor who can guide you through every step, from reviewing your profile to helping you and the new dentist find a rhythm, well after they join your practice.

This blog was originally posted on the ADA Practice Transitions’ blog on Oct. 13, 2020. Reprinted with permission.