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6 Rules Every Dentist Should Live By

Rules for DentistsAs children, our parents often teach us rules to live by. There’s the golden rule, ‘Treat your neighbor as you would like to be treated.’ Then you may have also heard the phrase, ‘If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.’

There are countless other pieces of advice and rules our parents taught to help us be successful adults. And whether we like to admit it or not, we’ve probably repeated these phrases later to our children or nieces and nephews.

Over the years we’ve coined and adopted some rules of our own that every dentist should live by.

The following are 6 rules you should always keep in mind:

WIDIOM Rule: Would I Do It On Me?

This rule, coined by Dr. Dawson, is a great guideline to apply to your life every single day. When you are creating a treatment plan, make sure it is the same treatment you would want for yourself, your spouse, or a close friend.

This rule can also help put a patient at ease when you explain that it is what you would recommend to your loved ones.

Platinum Rule:

The concept of treating others the way you would like to be treated is found in over 21 religions worldwide. But in his book, “The Platinum Rule,” Dr. Tony Alessandra presents this alternative – “Treat others the way they want to be treated.”

When practicing The Platinum Rule, the focus of relationships shifts from “this is what I want, so I’ll give everyone the same thing” to “let me first understand what they want and then I’ll give that to them.”

Mastering this rule requires strong listening skills along with developing an understanding of the differences between behavioral styles. For help developing these skills, consider one or all of the following:

The Golden Proportion:

While this is meant to be a guide and not a rigid formula, it does provide a guideline for the ideal proportional relationship between the maxillary teeth: centrals, incisors and canines  (1.6 / 1 / 0.6) when viewing the full-face smile.  Assign a number to the central incisor, and reduce the viewable width of each tooth as you go posteriorly by 62%. Remember, The Golden Proportion is meant as a guide, not a hard rule.

Sloppy Models:

If you’ve ever taken a Dawson Academy course, you’ve heard us repeat ad nauesum Dr. Clyde Schuyler’s quote: “Sloppy models are not an indication of sloppy dentistry, they are absolute proof.”  Another way of thinking about your model work is, ‘Garbage in = garbage out’.

If you do not have an accurately mounted set of face-bow articulated, CR mounted study models ready for the examination, treatment planning and restorative phases of treatment, you’ll be wasting time and increasing frustration as you proceed through your treatment phases.

MUDL: Mesial of Uppers Distal on Lowers:

When removing interferences to the arc of closure when there is an anterior slide present, remember this important rule: only grind the Mesial inclines of the Upper teeth or the Distal inclines of the Lower teeth.

Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail:

Although Dr. Dawson was certainly not the first one to utter this concept, it is still a major rule to keep in mind. If you fail to 2D and 3D treatment plan for each and every case, you’re accepting failure as a treatment plan.

Do yourself a favor and take the time in the beginning to take complete records and make a thorough plan based on them. You’ll save yourself time and money in the end by doing so. Not to mention, your patients will appreciate you doing things right the first time.

These rules are time tested and apply to every single dentist – no matter the age or experience.

What other rules do you live by as a dentist? 

Photo Credit: LindaH via Compfight cc

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Virginia Bussey is the Director of Marketing & Communications at The Dawson Academy, an international dental continuing education provider based in St. Petersburg, Florida. She is the 2016 marketing co-chair for St. Pete Young Professionals and serving on the marketing committee for Engage St. Pete. Bussey has been published on Yahoo Small Biz, Business2Community, Social Media Today and HubSpot for her expertise in Inbound and Digital Marketing. She is currently writing a marketing workbook to help small to medium-sized businesses easily create effective marketing plans that bridge both traditional and digital marketing channels. She is a proud alumnae of the University of Florida's Journalism and Communications College, where she received her Bachelor's of Science in Advertising.