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09.16.05 Issue #184  
Tips on Adding Digital Radiography

Sally McKenzie, CEO
The McKenzie Company

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Among the most important decisions many dental practices will make over the coming months and years is not simply whether to buy digital radiography, but which digital radiography system to buy. It’s when you’ve decided that you’re going digital that the fun begins. That’s because you have to sort out all the claims and capabilities of the leading digital radiography vendors to determine which system is best for you. Here are some tips that I think you’ll find helpful in selecting the right digital radiography system.

It’s important to make sure all the components you purchase are compatible with each other. That’s not to say they all need come from the same company to be compatible. In fact, choosing products on merit and not by company insures you’ll make the best decision for you and your practice.

Look at the core competency of the vendor you’re considering. Is digital radiography their main focus? The people who focus on digital radiography do so for a reason, just as those who focus on practice management do so for a reason.  Just as you should purchase the best practice management software, regardless of vendor, it is also imperative that you choose the best digital radiography system.

Simply put, digital radiography is becoming the standard of care in dentistry. It’s the foundation of a modern dental practice, and you should not compromise in the quality of the system you choose simply because you can get a “good deal” from a vendor who’s offering your system “bundled” with other products.

Look for a vendor that concentrates on delivering the highest quality digital radiography system. Period. You can check this by asking these questions: Has the digital radiography system you’re considering received the ADA Seal of Acceptance? How about a four- or five-star rating from Reality Magazine? Is it a top three CRA choice? Look for ‘yes’ answers to these questions.

Product support is another critical area when you’re purchasing a digital radiography system. Does the prospective vendor have a dedicated technical support department? Do they offer on-line technical support? Remote computerized diagnostics?

If your salesperson is also your technical support contact, that’s a sign that you’re not going to be getting the quality of technical support you need. Choose a vendor that has an in-house technical support team that can help you deal with issues when you need to deal with them and in a dedicated, professional manner. And you should choose a vendor that can provide on-site service if you need it.

I’d recommend that you look at the issue of training in the same way. Does your vendor have a dedicated training department? Are the instructors certified and knowledgeable about your dental needs? The answers to both of these questions should be ‘yes’.

A related issue is software updates. When was the last time your prospective vendor updated its digital radiography software? You should choose a vendor that provides frequent software updates.

There are a number of operation questions you also need to ask. Does the new digital radiography system you're considering purchasing enhance and expand what you can do when compared to film? Or does it actually restrict what you can do? There are, for instance, digital radiography systems on the market which may prohibit you from taking vertical bitewing X-rays. The digital radiography system you select should enable you to take all the periapical shots you need.

I also strongly recommend that you “read the fine print”, which is to say, discuss the service level agreement, or warranty, thoroughly with your sales representative. With digital radiography, one of the most important aspects of the agreement can be summed up with this question: "Does the vendor offer overnight replacement of the digital sensor if it malfunctions?" You need to make sure that if your sensor fails, you can get a replacement the next morning, because your practice can't afford to go a day without taking x-rays.

One of the things many dentists have found is that digital radiography can be a big booster to referrals. Patients love the reduced radiation exposure and the fact that they can actually see the X-rays and be involved in treatment planning. They’re also impressed by sensor comfort. Try the sensor in your own mouth to find out if it’s comfortable.

Finally, consider the value of the system when you’re making your decision. In most cases, the lowest priced system is not necessarily the best value. I’ve mentioned that you should choose a system that is recognized by the ADA and other important certifying agencies, and one that provides patient comfort and stimulates referrals, as well as one that enables you to take all the X-rays necessary for your practice. If you follow those recommendations, you’ll purchase or lease a system that will provide the best long-term value for your practice. That’s the bottom line when you’re adding digital radiography to your practice.

If you have any question or comments, please email Sally McKenzie at

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Practicing Good Mental Fitness in Times of Crisis

Dr. Nancy Haller
Executive Coach
McKenzie Management

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It’s been heart wrenching to watch and read about the devastation in the Gulf Region over the past two weeks. Perhaps like me, you have found yourself being more appreciative of everyday comforts and conveniences too often taken for granted. I am more thankful for the health and safety of my family, for the roof over my head, for clean water, for the fact that I can write this article on my computer.

Catastrophe does have a way of washing away layers of superficiality. It enables humans to relate on a new, deeper level. In the wake of any tragedy people begin to think about their life situation, about the possibility of death without warning. And to redirect their energies to what is really important.

From time to time we all experience negative thoughts as well as angry or depressing feelings. Ups and downs are a part of life. But it is important to maintain a healthy perspective and a hopeful outlook. Not that smiling and thinking positive thoughts will increase your revenue overnight, but you will affect your bottom line by practicing mental aerobics.

Just like physical exercise, mental agility requires dedication and practice. It begins when you think about what you have instead of how bad things are. I have been told that the Chinese character for ‘crisis’ is the same as ‘opportunity’. This is a great philosophy. Look at difficult times as a chance to learn about yourself, to improve your ability to persevere and to develop courage. Quick results and immediate gratification are great, but true success comes from working steadily to overcome obstacles, sometimes in the face of tremendous odds.

Watch for small signs of progress. So much of our distress is the direct result of unrealistic expectations, about ourselves and others. Refrain from playing the ‘blame game’. Stop the self-criticism for perceived inadequacies and stop judging others harshly. Both zap us of energy, creativity and productivity. In difficult times, the real winners are those who stay motivated and focused on their goals.

Do things that make you feel confident and secure…a craft or a hobby, music or sports. Whatever the activity, give yourself time and permission to enjoy it. Take yourself lightly. Laughter is a cathartic experience. It allows us to release tension and frustration. Remember the last time you had a good belly laugh? Remember how exhausted and relaxed you felt afterward?

Here’s an exercise to help you ‘get in shape’. You’ll need paper and pencil to record your ideas, and some uninterrupted time.

Imagine that it is one year from now…September 16, 2006. As if by miracle, everything you want for yourself and your practice has become a reality. Concentrate and focus on the details. Once you have captured the specifics, imagine how you might feel waking up in the morning. In your mind’s eye, notice how you would respond to people at home and at the office. Picture yourself driving to work and what differences there would be. How would you respond to traffic or aggressive drivers? How would you talk with your staff? What kind of expression would be on your face as you worked?

Now train yourself to implement one of these behaviors today. Whether it is greater emotional composure or more encouraging remarks to others, the impact of just one small modification holds tremendous possibility. If you are having trouble doing this on your own, seek the help of a ‘mental coach’. Just as physical trainers improve performance in athletic competitions, coaching offers ways to enhance professional effectiveness.

Overcoming adversity begins with mental fitness. Being positive and appreciative takes effort, but that power rests within each one of us.

Contact Dr. Haller at if you would like help getting mentally ‘in shape’.

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Treatment Presentations And The Power of Patient Testimonials

Belle M. DuCharme
RDA, CDPMA. Director
The Center for
Dental Career Development

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We are getting more technically savvy.  We have more ways to illustrate, educate, demonstrate, and saturate our patients with information on the condition of their mouths and the options we can offer to correct or enhance their dentition.  Does this mean that our treatment acceptance will go up?  Not necessarily. 

Yes, it is vitally important to educate our patients and utilize the most up to date products, and technology to insure that we are giving the best care available. However, we must not lose sight of the patient in the chair as an individual and what motivates that patient to want the dentistry that we are so aptly displaying.   I still hold with the belief that “trusting that the doctor can do the work the way the patient expects it to be done” is a key motivator for treatment acceptance. Take for example the following:

Recently, I was helping a client develop text for a website. Dr. Toothman’s objective was to be able to reach more patients with information about the practice and also show his patients and prospective patients that he was serious with keeping up with changes in technology and the importance of the WEB in patient communication. With the help of a web-site designer, he was able to get the plan in motion. We needed testimonials and professional photos of happy patients to complete the site. Dr. Toothman had not kept an accurate Case Book of before and after photos and had not kept names of people who may want to give testimonials.  I began calling patients that Dr. Toothman said may want to help, he was reluctant to ask fearing that few would want to get involved.  We were asking patients to pose for a professional photographer and to give a couple sentence testimonials.  When the testimonials started to arrive in the mail or I would have them dictated to me over the phone or receive them via e-mail, Dr. Toothman was astounded.  “I had no idea so many people were happy with my work”, he exclaimed.  The following are excerpts from some of the testimonials I received:

“Before I met Dr. Toothman, I hated going to the dentist. I always felt like I was being pushed through a sieve whenever I was in a dental office. That changed the day I went to see Dr. Toothman.  I love my new veneers and Dr. Toothman.  I dread the day that he retires.” Jane Smedly

“Dr. Toothman and his assistant have been so helpful and caring.  He actually called me one night after I had a tooth pulled to see how I was feeling.  I would not see anyone else.” Cary Smith

“I had the most crooked, chipped and unsightly smile.  I hated to smile and I was ashamed.  I felt confident that Dr. Toothman could do the work.  I had no idea I could look so good. I felt that Dr. Toothman was honest.  If I weren’t pleased I could count on him to make it right. I would shout it to the world if he wanted me to.”  Beth Meade.

You can see how positive these testimonials are and how powerful they can be in motivating a patient to start treatment.

I would suggest getting at least twenty testimonials and having them professionally produced.  Use them in your brochures, websites, and flyers.  Have them framed and hung on the walls of your office.  It is amazing how many people will move from skepticism to acceptance because you have elevated their trust in your abilities.

For more information on taking your practice to a new level of acceptance, contact McKenzie Management at

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