The New Dentist Blog

5 Tips to Help New Dentists Build Patient Loyalty

As a New Dentist, you face the challenge of establishing strong patient relationships. Patient loyalty is not gained by just one thing, but by a compilation of positive influences. Because it’s so critical to practice success, let’s look at 5 ways you can help build loyalty in your practice.

  1. Get to Know Your Patients Before You Meet Them

By spending just one minute reviewing a patient’s dental chart before you enter the operatory you can identify how long this patient has been seen in your office, who their family is and notable treatment history. Long-term patients will be impressed if you acknowledge the trust they’ve put in this practice and thank them for being your patient.

Using a patient web portal that allows patients to get started with registration forms before their first visit can help get the relationship started even before they walk in the door.

  1. Use Interactive Technology

Rather than being the doc with your back to the patient while you look at some crusty monitor, try engaging your patient in their dental chart. Use a Tablet PC to educate the patient about their dental treatment, review xrays, sign treatment consent forms and watch patient education videos. With a Tablet PC in hand, you’re speaking to patients at their level, not pointing at a TV in the corner.

  1. Web Presence is a Must

Don’t waste time introducing yourself online. Use your website and Facebook page to feature pictures and a short bio for a great introduction to you and your practice. And incorporating videos are even better! If you don’t have the time or resources to invest in professional video, make a selfie video with your phone and put it on Facebook. It may feel awkward, but your patients will appreciate seeing the real you. Be sure to show your personality and give patients a way to connect with you on social media.

  1. Share your Passion

Take time to inform your patients about changes in dentistry such as new products available for home use, changes in regulations or rules, and new technology. Share your opinions, beliefs and goals. Use your social media channel to communicate your message and consider sending out patient newsletters too. Patients want to go to a dentist that stays current and cares about industry changes. So tell them what’s going on!

  1. Communication

With electronic records, communication is getting easier every day. During an appointment, you can easily email perio charts and treatment plans directly to your patients. If they aren’t ready to schedule their treatment plan today, send them a copy so that they can review the plan when they get home. Including online communication methods helps to broaden the connection patients have with you and your team.

A great dental software program is a key component to establishing patient relationships that lead to long-term loyalty. XLDent simplifies your workflows, helps you make the best use of current technology, and gives you the tools to do all this.

As an independent dental software company, XLDent is dedicated to the preservation of private dentistry and has made it our purpose to help new dentists in practice build successful small businesses.



Dawn Christodoulou is the President/Owner of XLDent.  She has more than 25 years of experience computerizing dental offices and helping both new and established practices streamline electronic workflows for increased efficiency, improve patient engagement, and achieve maximum profitability.  Dawn is also a member of ADA SCDI Working Groups 11.1 Standard Clinical Architecture and 11.9 Core Reference Data Set.

To speak with someone from XLDent, please call 800-328-2925, or email

Guest post by Dawn Christodoulou, President/Owner of XLDent

Starting a new business is a huge undertaking, and next to the decision to go to dental school, probably one of the biggest decisions of a new dentist’s professional life.  We applaud and congratulate new business owners for their desire to be their own boss, and thank them for opening the doors to a brand new business in their community.  As a privately owned business ourselves, XLDent is dedicated to the preservation of private dentistry and has made it our purpose to help new dentists in practice build successful small businesses.

We are now in the era of electronic records, so it is important to choose a system that will help you go totally paperless from the beginning, is easy to operate, and morphs as needed to support the evolution of the growing business.  That’s why we recommend a “Plan…Build…Implement…Review…Grow” approach when setting up the dental practice management software and clinical image systems.  It’s important to build a solid foundation from the beginning and select a company that will listen to you, consult with you, and help you establish the core business systems that will be essential to the success of your future practice.

Data is key to any business, therefore successful database establishment is the key to initiating core business systems. As each new dentist starts their journey, we ask them to consider that there is value in the depth and breadth of the patient database they are about to build.  The content, integrity and continuity of electronic dental records will play a key role in their ability to grow efficiently and profitably, as well as maintain valuable patient relationships and patient engagement mechanisms.  Electronic dental records also become the “goodwill” that ultimately defines the value or worth of the business.

XLDent’s All-Inclusive Suite of products and services includes all the tools needed to start simply and finish BIG!  Because we know it’s costly to start up a new dental office, we offer a No Cost software solution and a Getting Started program that tracks with you during the critical first 12 months of your practice opening.  Additionally, you’ll have access to self-guided training resources, on-demand webinars and ongoing live technical support.

Click Here for a FREE no-obligation consultation and personal demonstration.



Dawn Christodoulou is the President/Owner of XLDent.  She has more than 25 years of experience computerizing dental offices and helping both new and established practices streamline electronic workflows for increased efficiency, improved patient engagement, and maximum profitability.  Dawn is also a member of ADA SCDI Working Groups 11.1 Standard Clinical Architecture and 11.9 Core Reference Data Set.

To speak with someone from XLDent, please call 800-328-2925, or email Duane Anderson at


IHS_DEN_Blog_614x215_ScottsBluffNB_APR_NewDentistIf stress, traffic and high living expenses are getting you down, consider a career move to the Great Plains.

The Indian Health Service (IHS) offers dental health professionals extraordinary opportunities to provide comprehensive care to American Indians and Alaska Natives in hospitals, clinics and outreach programs throughout the Great Plains Area, which covers North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa.

The Great Plains Area Office in Aberdeen, SD, works in conjunction with its 19 Indian Health Service Units and Tribal-managed Service Units to provide health care to approximately 122,000 Native Americans in the four-state Area. Area service units include seven hospitals, eight health centers, and several smaller health stations and satellite clinics.

The dedicated providers at the IHS Division of Oral Health enjoy a work-life balance that offers ample time for recreational pursuits. Known for its awe-inspiring natural attractions and landmarks, the Great Plains Area boasts world-class fishing, hiking, hunting, skiing and more.

And the financial incentives can’t be beat. As an IHS clinician, you’re eligible to apply for up to $20,000 a year in loan repayment to fund your qualified health profession education loans.

You can choose from three distinct career paths — working in the civil service, in a Tribal/Urban Indian Program, or as an officer with the US Public Health Service (USPHS) Commissioned Corps.

Applicants are subject to a pre-employment background check, including a fingerprint analysis, and must be US citizens. Male applicants must be registered for the selective service. Veterans and American Indians and Alaska Natives are encouraged to apply and receive hiring preference.

Applicants for civil service and USPHS Commissioned Corps positions must submit their materials through Tribal hire applicants must apply directly through the Tribe with whom they are seeking employment.

Professionally rewarding and personally fulfilling — explore a world of opportunities at or contact a recruiter and upload a resume here. Applicants must be U.S. citizens.

The policy of IHS is to provide absolute preference to qualified Indian applicants and employees who are suitable for federal employment in filling vacancies in the IHS. IHS is an equal opportunity employer.

INDIAN HEALTH CAREERS — Opportunity. Adventure. Purpose.

Guest post by Mark Hollis, CEO of MacPractice

In 2015 alone, the identity and health information of 35% of Americans was exposed – more than 111 Million patient records. More and more, dentists and patients are becoming aware that reported breaches like this effect them directly and can have grave consequences. If you think about it, most of us know someone who has had their personal information compromised and had to spend years recovering from a loss of their identity. Your patient’s identity theft can results in:

Fraudulent charges

Empty bank account

Lost home

Stolen Social Security benefits

Bad credit

Emotional stress, divorce, loss of business, etc.

Health care providers are required by HIPAA to protect EPHI with AES encryption ‘at rest’ on the server and backups, and on a network in the office (and between offices and over the Internet if that applies). The theft and sale of EPHI (Electronic Protected Health Information) is lucrative for thousands of hackers in places like Iran, Russia and China. No one can stop the attempts, but dentists can, at a minimum, use dental software with built-in encryption that makes EPHI indecipherable to a hacker or burglar.

A startling reality is that vendors are NOT required to provide encryption in their software. Other than MacPractice, NONE of the other leading dental vendors provide encryption in their software.

Patients are starting to ask dentists how their data is protected before providing it. In a recent survey, 50% of patients said they would leave their doctor if they were notified their data was exposed, as is required by HIPAA of all doctors who do not encrypt EPHI as well as their database password. In addition, HIPAA and States can assess millions of dollars in fines for non-compliance. This is truly a national emergency.

Encrypted software helps you avoid millions in fines for non-compliance, and qualifies you for HIPAA’s Safe Harbor. In the event of a breach, Safe Harbor can exempt you from having to send first class mail to all who are affected, notify HHS and prominent media, post a notice on your home page, and more. Practices that do not encrypt their patients’ data and report a breach rarely recover.

MacPractice encourages you to learn more about this important topic and how built-in encryption can protect you and your practice. You can download our free whitepaper, register for our encryption webinar and subscribe to our HIPAA web resource page.



For more than 30 years, Mark has been helping doctors to run their practices more efficiently, first as a practice management consultant and now as CEO of MacPractice – the leading software for doctors who prefer Apple technology. Mark has spoken at seminars, trade shows, dental schools and more than 500 small business events at Apple locations. He is an established and well-respected leader on Cloud computing, dental and medical technology and Electronic Health Records.

He can be reached at

In 2015, I, along with my wife Ana Paula Ferraz-Dougherty, was inducted as a Fellow into the International College of Dentists—an honor only about 4 percent of U.S. dentists receive. The ICD is a worldwide dental organization that recognizes professional achievement, advancement and service to dentistry.

My wife and I graduated from dental school less than 10 years ago (7.5 years to be exact). We practice in Texas, but we aren’t from Texas and didn’t go to dental school there either. This isn’t common for ICD inductees, who are typically older than us and have long standing connections and friends in their communities.

So how did we make names for ourselves in our dental community and receive such a prestigious honor in such a short amount of time? I attribute it to three factors: participating in organized dentistry, moving to a city with a great community of dentists, and simply turning some disadvantages into advantages.

It was daunting to move to San Antonio in 2010. We didn’t know a single person. Texas is a welcoming, friendly place, and within a few months, we made friends and connections. By showing up to meetings, participating in committees, and valuing every relationship, we built a network.

When you’ve been part of a community for a long time, it’s only natural to stay in a small comfort zone of friends and associates. When you’re new and have no comfort zone, there’s a lot of freedom and opportunity that comes with that. There’s an opportunity to consciously define who you are. Before and during dental school, I wanted to become a dentist. That was such a big goal I didn’t really think about anything bigger than that!

After being a dentist for a few years, I recognized there was opportunity for so much more. I asked myself questions like, “What do I want to be known for?” and “How can I make things better for people around me?” I wanted to be known as someone who served others; this motivated a lot of my decisions about how I would spend my time. I’m not sure I would have been so introspective if I had stayed in one place. I’m not sure I would have taken advantage of every opportunity to give back if I felt it was always going to be there for me.

We wouldn’t be ICD members if it wasn’t for our sponsor and our generous friends who wrote letters to support us. Six years ago we moved into a community with many of the best dentists in the country. Whether it’s with service to the profession, contributions to advancing dentistry, or clinical excellence, there are so many shining examples in our own city. These are our  mentors and our friends. We’re very fortunate to be surrounded by great people.

Larry DoughertyLarry Doughtery, DDS, is a 2008 graduate of Nova Southeastern University. He has chaired a number of committees on new dentists, has taught at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio School of Dentistry, and now owns Rolling Oaks Dental, a start-up practice in San Antonio, where he practices with his wife who is also a dentist.

Guest post by  Gregory Snevel, DDS

New dentists often ask me how start building an implant program in their practices. They wish to expand the services currently offer in their practice, and ask me where the best place to start is. Successful implant therapy begins and ends with proper management of the pre-existing condition through diagnosis, extraction, and socket preservation (i.e. bone and tissue grafting) of non-restorable teeth. Managing a case in this manner generally leads to favorable and predictable outcomes, allowing for maximum experience gained, and inspiring confidence in the growing implantologist.


Even if you don’t plan to branch out into implantology, if you currently offer extractions in your practice, bone grafting is: simple, safe, and profitable. In my opinion, it is standard of care. Dystrophic changes in the alveolar architecture following non-grafted extractions can mar esthetic and functional results of both fixed and removable prosthetics, not just implants. Root denouement can occur during the removal of terminal molars, often resulting in attachment loss adjacent to the tooth in question. It’s time we did better.

A review of techniques and materials is beyond the scope of this article, but I will give you 4 steps you need to take to begin building a better practice with bone grafting.

  • Take a course. Bone grafting courses are affordable, informative, and convenient. Learn about what you do.
  • Invest in Time. By far the most common mistake made is not giving yourself enough time to adequately complete the procedure. This compromises results frustrating both dentist and patient. Materials are inexpensive. If you currently extract teeth, you most likely already have all the surgical tools necessary. Book yourself enough time. Consider the temporary loss of production as an investment. It will pay dividends.
  • Fundamentals. No material, suture, device, or forcep, will ever contribute as much to a successful outcome as solid surgical technique.  Know what you are doing, and know why you are doing it.
  • Practice. The key to proficiency in any task is practice. If you have given yourself the time to put into effect what you have learned, your confidence will grow and you will be well on your way.

As a parting piece of advice, find a mentor. It could be a specialist referral, a former classmate, or a person you met at CE. Share your cases with them. Ask for advice. Offer advice. While it is true that all knowledge is earned, wisdom can only be shared.

Advisory Board_GregSnevelGregory Snevel, DDS, 2011 graduate of Ohio State University, is a member of The New Dentist Magazine Advisory Board.

He is a part time clinical instructor at a local Community College and a 3rd generation dentist running a general dentistry practice in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. He took over his father’s existing general dentistry practice after working there as an Associate.


The Indian Health Service (IHS), a nationwide organization of dedicated health professionals working to meet the health care needs of American Indians and Alaska Natives, is offering a unique opportunity for dentists who seek a variety of dental health specialties in addition to personal and professional fulfillment in their careers.

Our dental opportunities go beyond providing one-on-one patient care. Indian health dental careers offer opportunities to become involved in community prevention programs that can improve disease rates, including water fluoridation, dental screenings, sealants, fluoride varnishes and distribution of Xylitol gum to school-age children.

Key to an Indian health career is eligibility for repayment of health profession education loans through the IHS Loan Repayment Program (LRP). The LRP provides up to $40,000 to cover qualified health profession education loans in exchange for a two-year service commitment at an approved Indian health facility. After completing the initial two-year contract, participants may request (annually) an extension of their IHS LRP contract in exchange for an additional one-year service commitment until all qualified loans are paid.

IHS offers three distinct career options for dentists — working in the civil service, for a Tribal or Urban Indian Program or as an officer with the US Public Health Service (USPHS).

Join us for the IHS 2016 Virtual Career Fair! Meet one on one with IHS recruiters, learn about Indian health career opportunities for dentists and dental hygienists and chat with Loan Repayment Program (LRP) analysts to learn more about the LRP. In addition to real-time feedback and advice about general recruitment and specific health profession disciplines, you can also learn about IHS LRP eligibility and how to apply.

Register now for our 2-hour live chat from 7:00 p.m. EST to 9:00 p.m. EST on Wednesday March 16, 2016

Professionally rewarding and personally fulfilling — explore a world of opportunities at  or contact a recruiter at                              Applicants must be US citizens, board eligible and board certified.

The policy of IHS is to provide absolute preference to qualified Indian applicants and employees who are suitable for federal employment in filling vacancies within the IHS. IHS is an equal opportunity employer.

INDIAN HEALTH CAREERS — Opportunity. Adventure. Purpose.

Guest post by Dr. Lindsay Goss, DMD, MPH

As a general dentist I work with specialists every day in order to provide exceptional comprehensive patient care. I used to think that when I referred a patient to a dental specialist that they would take over from there with the patient’s care. They would diagnose the patient, treat the patient and the patient would return to my office only when they have improvement. But what I soon realized is that I would wonder what was happening? When is the patient returning to my office? What was their diagnosis? What is the prognosis? Once I referred the patient out of my office, I felt that I could no longer be in control of my patient care. However, with a few changes to our office protocol on how we make a referral, I remain a part of my patient’s continuation of care with the specialist.

Here is my office protocol:

1. Determine the patient needs a referral to a specialist.

2. Define what specialist can provide a Diagnosis, Prognosis and Treatment recommendations (DPT).
   a. What type of specialist should the patient see?
      Does gender of the doctor or the location matter?
      Does insurance coverage make a difference for this patient?

3. Offer patient a pre-scheduled appointment with the specialist prior to leaving your office.
   a. This step is important because it commits the patient to the care they need.
   b. Our patient coordinator gives insurance information to the referring office.

4. Write the pre-scheduled appointment day/time on the referral slip.
   a. Make a copy of the referral slip for your patient records.
   b. Inform patient their records will be sent over and ready for their consult appt.

5. Compliment the specialist and inform the patient that we will look forward to hearing the results from the consult appointment.
   a. Ask your specialist for a pre-treatment letter which states the DPT.
   b. I always review the DPT from the specialist prior to treatment with the patient.

I would encourage any New Dentist to get to know their specialists and develop a clear relationship on how you want to manage patient care. Call and invite your specialists to meet over lunch! When I work with a specialist I am inviting the specialist into a relationship of trust I have built with my patients. The patient knows that I am going to follow their case and I expect the patient to follow through with the recommended treatment/care. For these reasons it is important to make working with specialists an easy and routine process.


Dr. Lindsay Goss is an esteemed member of The New Dentist Magazine Advisory Board. She graduated from the Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health and AT Still School of Health Management.  Dr. Goss also completed an Advanced Education in General Dentistry program through the Lutheran Medical Center before she worked with four different types of practice settings, and prior to starting up a solo “space share” in Chandler, AZ.


Guest Post from The New Dentist Advisory Board Member Dr. Nicole Smith (Calif.)

Recently I was lucky enough to attend the Cerec 30 Convention in Las Vegas—a continuing education program celebrating 30 years of Cerec. Yes, Cerec has been around for 30 years! I still hear the question from patients and colleagues alike asking if CAD/CAM is new technology, and clearly it is not. I have been using my Cerec CAD/CAM machine on a daily basis in my offices for about 6 years and it has significantly changed how I practice. For one, I am more conservative with my dentistry—I am much more likely to do an onlay now instead of a crown if I am able to save tooth structure without sacrificing strength. Also, I am now almost completely metal free—my work looks better and is healthy for the patients. It makes me a better dentist—I design my restorations so I see where my preps excel and where they lack in finesse, allowing me to know what prep designs work the best for different restorations. And of course, it is a time saver for my patients. I am able to prep and cement an onlay in less than an hour and a crown in less than 2 hours. CAD/CAM has been a worthwhile investment for me because I have embraced the technology and use it daily. The Cerec 30 Convention blew my mind though…there is so much more I can do with my Cerec machine than I ever knew!

Snoring and Sleep Apnea Therapy—A CAD/CAM machine can be used to make appliances that open a patient’s airway and keep them off of a CPAP machine. Truly a service your sleep apnea patients will thank you for!

TMD—Treating patients with just a simple nightguard impression to the lab is a thing of the past when you can use your Cerec to image and design custom TMD appliances.
Veneers—The next step in CAD/CAM proficiency allows you to change your patient’s smile in just 1 visit.

CBCT—You can now connect your Cerec with your Cone Beam machine for making precise stents for implant surgery. This is groundbreaking! You don’t need to wait a week for the lab to get the stent back to your office. You are able to take your 3D radiograph, design your stent, and place your implant the same day with excellent precision and time efficiency.

Implant Abutments and Crowns—The technology now allows us to make our own custom implant abutments and crowns right there in the office!

CAD/CAM is changing the world of dentistry at a pace faster than I ever expected. There is so much exciting development out there in using digital technology that can make my patients’ visits faster and more enjoyable. But in the long run it is also making dentistry more exciting for me to practice and evolve in! I truly believe that the technology you choose to invest in will only be worthwhile if you commit to using it on a regular basis and learn everything it can do for you. For me, I am thankful I took the plunge with investing in Cerec, and I know my patients are too!

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Nicole Smith, DDS, is a 2009 graduate from New York University College of Dentistry. She was class president for 3 years, is a member of several professional organizations and recipient of honors and awards for her contributions. She partnered with a group practice organization and now owns 2 dental offices in Southern California.

Guest Post from The New Dentist Reader: Dr. John Syrbu

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As a new dentist, you surely have a personal Facebook, Instagram or Twitter
account, building an audience from your patients requires a slightly different
mindset. For the purposes of this discussion, we will consider the international
standard in social media: the Facebook business page. Before we even think of
asking patients to like your page, let’s assess if your page is ready for visitors.

The first and most important question to ask yourself is – if you were a patient,
would you like your page in its current state? Does it provide value? Do you see
the faces of you, your staff and happy patients sprinkled throughout the wall? Do
you have a foundation of fans and interactions? If “maybe” or “not really” crossed
your mind in answering these questions, then let’s take a few steps back.

First, let’s cross our T’s and dot our I’s. Are all of the written sections of the page
filled out and accurate? Surely your wall is your landing page, but if a new patient
is perusing through your page and they connect with your office, they might not
click back to your website for the hours, address or number to call. Make sure
your “About” section is polished and updated.
Next, get some fresh and recent posts on your wall. “What? I don’t even have
any fans yet, why bother?” you might think. If your most recent post wished
everyone a “Merry Christmas” and it’s warm outside, you either live in San Diego
or that post is outdated. And worse if your wall is completely empty, patients will
feel like they’re the first ones at the party. It’s awkward.
Once your wall is no longer vacant or outdated, invite your friends and family to
like the page. Have your team members invite their friends and family. “What
about the patients!?” They’re next. It’s important to have a foundation of followers
before asking your patients to join in. Again, no one likes being the first one to
the party. Assuming your friends and family like you, they will probably start to
“like” and comment on the posts, giving your posts a small dose of clout.
You are now fully dressed, furnished and ready to invite your patients to your
page. Have the signage in readily visible areas such as the reception desk and
waiting area. Make a note about the promotions and features that patients are
eligible for as Facebook fans. You and your staff should also be referencing the
page or recent posts in conversation. Talk about how much fun you have and
that you think your patient would enjoy and benefit from the content. Be honest,
authentic and consistent. And remember the three E’s of social media: educate,
entertain and engage!


John Syrbu DDS is a dentist, author and illustrator. Reach Dr. John at or visit his website ( for more information.