The Key to Sustainable Practice Growth

By Dr. Mark T. Murphy

When asked what would solve their lack of busyness problem, most dentists respond by saying they “need more new patients.” Although a steady increased stream of clients would help fill the hygiene and dental schedules in most practices, it is expensive and the most difficult to quickly achieve. Acquisition of new business requires either a strong social and public media blitz (tougher to effectively target market without spending a lot) or steady referral growth (which takes time). Fortunately, there are diamonds at our feet that we can take advantage of, but it requires a bit of a paradigm shift in thinking.

How we look at the problem sometimes is the problem. That’s why a shift in perspective sometimes is needed to move past a recurrent obstacle. By looking at the problem differently, we may be able to see solutions that were previously limited by our point of view. “More new patients” is not always the right answer.

The single biggest opportunity for sustainable growth in most practices is right under our nose. In the average practice that we have worked with or researched, a little more than 70 percent of the existing patients are leaving with a re-care appointment scheduled for a specific date and time. Most of us think we are better at that, but when you actually stop and measure it for one month, you will feel differently. It is easy to significantly increase the percentage and impact how full your hygiene schedule will be.

1. Measure: Just by measuring, your team will become more attentive to this behavior (prescheduling re-care) and the results will improve.

2. Track: By setting an improvement goal and tracking how many patients leave with a next hygiene appointment in real time (using notes on the day sheet, an excel spreadsheet or software like, your future schedule will be more full.

3. Speak: Rehearsing verbal skills around this helps to get more patients to schedule. “Mrs. Jones, I know how you feel. Sometimes I don’t know what I am doing in six months, either. But, let’s do this: Let’s book something for now that looks like it might work. If you have to change it as it gets closer — no big deal. But, it is so much easier to trade a one-hour time slot for another one if you already have an appointment than if you don’t have one.”

4. Celebrate: Re-measure the result each month and share the success with your team. Reward them appropriately so they know how much you appreciate their effort. It is way less expensive to pre-book and stay busy than to try to fill an empty schedule a few days ahead of time.

The obvious part of this story is that it works! The bonus is that when you have more hygiene patients and a fuller schedule, you will de facto have more dentistry to do from that. Most practices range from 25-35 percent of their production from hygiene visits and the rest from restorative. So, for every dollar you find by pre-booking better, you should find $2-3 more of restorative need. Helping more patients have healthier mouths and getting to do more of the dentistry that is fulfilling drives these behaviors. Money never leads, it only follows.


Dr. Murphy is the principal of Funktional Tracker and lead faculty for Clinical Education at Microdental, and can be reached at He will be speaking at FDC2016 on Thursday, June 16 and Saturday, June 18. “Introduction to Treating Sleep Apnea in Your Practice: From Getting Started to Medical Billing” will be on Thursday at 9:30 a.m. and “Evidence-based Shade Communication in Restorative Dentistry” will be later that day at 2 p.m. On Saturday, he will present, “Improving Case Acceptance, Moving Past Insurance Entitlement,” at  10:45 a.m. during the New Dentist Program, “Success is your Future: The New Dentist Practical Guide for Success.”

Reducing Aligner Challenges and Increasing Patient Compliance

By Dr. Payam Ataii

A Case Study Using the Propel System® with Invisalign®

In the following case study (Figs. 1a and 1b) I used the Propel System® (Propel Orthodontics) in conjunction with Invisalign® clear aligner therapy (Align Technology) (Fig. 2). Through a scientifically proven, patented process called micro-osteoperforation, the Propel System® stimulates the alveolar bone to induce an inflammatory response, accelerating tooth movement in the treated areas — 50-60 percent faster movement when compared to traditional orthodontics alone1 (Fig. 3). As a result, I was able to intercept an Invisalign® case that was not tracking properly by using Propel in order to get the case back on track. Using Propel helped ensure that all challenging orthodontic movements were achieved as planned avoiding additional treatment time, patient inconvenience and cost (Fig. 4). The patient could resume treatment with her current aligners once the case went through a refinement process (Fig. 5).

During my presentation at the Florida Dental Convention (FDC) this June, I will review clinical factors such as clinician experience, patient compliance, attachment engagement and interproximal reduction accuracy using cutting-edge technology such as the Propel System®. In my opinion, the Propel system is a powerful tool to help recover the aligner protocol and finish with beautiful results on challenging cases.

Dr. Ataii will be speaking at FDC2016 on June 18. His course, “Using Micro-osteoperforations to Increase and Accelerate Aligner Cases for General Practice,” will be at 2 p.m. For questions or support in Florida, contact Jim Sieg at

(To view the photos below, click to enlarge each image.)

Figure 1A
Fig. 1a

Figure 1B
Fig. 1b

Figure 2
Fig. 2

Figure 3
Fig. 3

Figure 4
Fig. 4

Figure 5
Fig. 5       


1 Alikhani M, Raptis M, Zoldan B, Sangsuwon C, Lee YB, Alyami B, Corpodian C, Barrera LM, Alansari S, Khoo E, Teixeira C. Effect of micro-osteoperforations on the rate of tooth movement. Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop. 2013; 144 (5):639-648.


Join Us at FDC2016!

By Brooke Martin, FDC Meeting Coordinator

The Florida Dental Association (FDA) will hold its annual meeting, the Florida Dental Convention (FDC), on June 16-18 at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in Orlando. As a member benefit, FDA members receive FREE pre-registration as well as a variety of FREE continuing education (CE) courses. Click here to view the list of free courses available.

This year’s scientific program is “The Art of Modern Dentistry” and features a broad spectrum of topics — ranging from “New Paradigms in Oral Cancer” to “The Secret Sauce” — to have a successful life and practice. With more than 125 lectures, 25 workshops and three mini-residencies, there is bound to be a course for you and everyone on your dental team.

Join us each morning as our keynote speakers prepare you for a day of learning and CE earning. On Thursday, The Madow Brothers will set the tone with their high-energy, humorous opening keynote session, “ROCK Your Practice to the Top!” where they will show you how to perform at your highest level while laughing and having fun. On Friday, listen to one of the country’s most sought-after speakers, Dr. Mark Hyman, and learn the formula to create a highly successful dental practice, team and life at “The Secret Sauce!” Saturday, Mr. Lucas Boyce will be our final keynote speaker presenting, “Living Proof.” Mr. Boyce has a unique motivational style that enables him to connect with his audience in a personal and inspirational way by explaining how personal history or external conditions do not have to determine the future.

The 2016 scientific program will feature nationally renowned speakers including: Drs. Gary Glassman, Raymond Yukna, Darin Dichter and Rodrigo Nieva; Ms. Lisa Mallonne and Ms. Mary Costello. Clinical courses and hands-on workshops will equip you and your team with the necessary tools to incorporate new and emerging technology and techniques to optimize clinical skills and practice- and team-building strategies. Hot topics include: CAD/CAM, salivary diagnostics, sleep dentistry, head and neck dissection, aesthetic dentistry for teens and tots, dental stem cells and forensic dentistry. Join us for these valuable CE sessions or take advantage of the many FREE CE courses available to you as an FDA member.

This year, FDC offers a day-and-a-half, business-centric “New Dentist Program” to all recently graduated dentists (10 years or less). This program will help you jump-start your dental career by learning everything you need to know to hit the ground running as a new dentist. Click here to view more information on the New Dentist Program, “Success is Your Future: The New Dentist Practical Guide for Success.”

Come for the CE, stay for the FUN! Our nightly parties are fun filled and family friendly. Back by popular demand is the “Live Karaoke” party featuring you and your team as the stars. On Friday evening, wear your favorite superhero or villain attire, bring your family and come experience our fun-filled event, “Heroes & Villains.” If you are looking for some nightlife, join the New Dentists Friday night for “The After Party” in Wrecker’s from 10 p.m.-1 a.m. As a finale this year, we are featuring “Stay for the Magic,” where you can purchase tickets to any Disney theme park for a discounted rate. This surely will be a treat for you, your family and your team.

Come and join your colleagues June 16-18 for a memorable and invaluable experience at FDC2016! Click here to register now! For more information, visit or call 800.877.9922.