Elevating Dentistry


The other day I was going through some files and I came across an article that I wrote in 1989. I was curious to know if the things I wrote back then were still applicable to the dental industry in 2013. As I read the article, I realized that what I had written almost 24 years ago was even more relevant today. I want to share some of that article with you as we explore the topic of elevating dentistry.

In 1989, I rededicated myself and Arrowhead to the improvement of dentistry. I did so with the four main intentions
1. Help dentists do more of the dentistry they originally wanted to do,
2. Enable dentists to receive an income commensurate with the time and financial investment incurred,
3. Pay higher salaries to their auxiliaries, and
4. Provide better quality dentistry for patients.
Too many dentists have made great sacrifices of time, stomach lining, heart muscle and money, and are not receiving the sense of satisfaction and accomplishment they deserve.

Accomplishing the goals of providing quality dentistry, receiving above-average income and being able to pay better wages to your auxiliaries, takes commitment from you and your staff—a commitment to change that must come “from the top down.” If you are not sure how to go about doing this, then you need to do one of the most transformative things a leader can do—become teachable. Being teachable is not just a decision but it is also an attitude that you need to foster. You have learned the techniques of dentistry; now learn the techniques of business and people management.

Dentists tend to be traditionalists and practice dentistry the way it was taught them by their first mentors. The greatest scientific discovers, including the new technologies and materials that we enjoy today, didn’t occur until someone broke with tradition. By breaking from tradition, you are able to see the world differently. To many of you, the idea of breaking with tradition carries with it visions of rebellion. I would say that breaking with tradition is less about rebellion and more about becoming truly teachable. Aristotle once said “the more you know, the more you know you don’t know.”

Behavior and attitude are the primary forces necessary for success in the world of dentistry. Behavior can be learned and attitudes can be changed, but they do not really become a part of you until you view the world of dentistry differently. The way that traditional practices operated 10 or 20 years ago are not reliable models for success in today’s marketplace. Corporate dental practices are expanding on a yearly basis and they are shaping attitudes of patients when it comes to what is the expected level of care. The days of simply hanging out a shingle and finding a measure of success are long past. Today’s dentists must constantly be looking to improve what they are able to deliver to their patients. This includes implants, full arch dentistry and sleep dentistry. But beyond procedures, it also means having a comprehensive view of what is possible so that you can see past symptoms and help your patients find solutions that will help to ensure their long-term health and well being.

Arrowhead and the Dr. Dick Barnes Group will continue to train and teach you how to break with tradition. We will always stress the importance of quality dentistry – that is the one tradition that will never change. The programs offered by the Dr. Dick Barnes Group will train you in a set of techniques and values that will enable you to see the dental world differently; not just quick fixes, first impressions or manipulative ploys. You will love dentistry more (or once again), your patients will be happier, and you and your auxiliaries will experience the satisfaction and productivity that is available when you elevate your dentistry.

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Dr. Dick Barnes is the leader in practice development for today’s cosmetic practice. A graduate of Marquette Dental School, he began his general dentistry practice in Rialto, California. As his practice, skills and reputation grew, he became known as one of the world leaders in cosmetic dentistry. In addition, Dr. Barnes taught at Loma Linda University and the University of Southern California, at their respective dental schools.


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