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Spring 2019

It’s Not a Straight Line Rachel Wall

Bringing More Home Dr. Christina Blatchford

Navigating Your Practice Direction Dr. Lori Trost

Correcting Employees with Gratitude and a Focus on the Future Dr. Laura Mach


ANNIVERSARY ISSUE Thank you for supporting us!


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Spring 2019 Editor and Publisher Anne M. Duffy, RDH Assistant Editor Michael Duffy JoAnn Schutte Managing Director Patti D’Agata Associate Publisher Rebecca Paciorek Creative Consultant Beth Linesch Design and Layout Brian Rummel Production [CURAtive] James B. Kennedy Reilly Williams Spring Contributors Hillary Becchetti Dr. Christina Blatchford Marianne Dryer Sonya Dunbar Dr. Kimberly Harms Dr.Laura Mach Katie Melko Rebecca Paciorek Lauren Rowan Sharel Sly Dr. Lori Trost Rachel Wall Carrie Webber Cover Photography Erica Mark Web Design Jameson Management

Charter Sponsors A-dec Crest Mary Fisher-Day Inspired Hygiene Patterson D5 Patterson Fuse Shofu Advisors to the Board Katherine Eitel-Belt Linda Miles Vicki McManus Peterson Board Kristine A Berry Shannon Pace Brinker Dr. Tanya Brown Jasmin Haley Bonnie Hixson Janice Hurley Suzanne Kump Tonya Lanthier Rachel Mele Anastasia Turchetta Rice Lori Streeter Rachel Wall Rita Zamora Junior Board Dr. Shakila Angadi Jennifer Chevalier Dr. Erinne Kennedy Minal Sampat Dr. Amisha Singh

Editorial Office 12233 Pine Valley Club Dr Charlotte, NC 28277 704-953-0261 Fax 704-847-3315 Send materials to: DeW Life Magazine 8334 Pineville Matthews Rd Ste. 103-201 Charlotte, NC 28226 Guidelines go to


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SPRI N G 2019 contents

Happy Anniversary, DeW Life Society! We are thrilled to be celebrating our second year in publication at the Hinman Dental Meeting! I hope you were here to join us in person, and if you weren’t, I hope you join us from around the world to celebrate all women in dentistry. It has been a remarkable journey thus far. We began this journey a little more than two years ago to inspire and highlight women in dentistry. Speaking to so many of you since we began has shown me that it’s the connection that inspires, highlights and empowers each of us and all of us. We started this movement before the #MeToo movement was birthed, and it has become so much more. We have become the DeW Society with four pillars: Inspire, Highlight, Empower and Connect. DeW Society sets a table where all are invited, and all are welcome. Together we can DeW small things with great love.



I have truly loved every minute getting to know you either through meeting in person, talking on the phone, texting or emailing. The way the world is today it’s easy for us to connect; so, continue to do just that. Reach out to your friends, your colleagues, your heroes, your mentees, your mentors, and your women in dentistry. Invite to our table. This is a really important issue to me personally and to our DeW Society. Our cover DeW and I met 23 years ago when she was a new hygienist with a burning desire to do something special and bold. Look at her now! You will love learning a smidge more about Rachel Wall. As an entrepreneur her story resonates with me, and I know it will with you.

It's Not a Straight Line



Mother/Daughter Team DeWing it Well


My Mother My Self - A Journey of Discovery and Fulfillment

Hillary Harms Becchetti, JD & Dr. Kimberly Harms, DDS



May is the month to lift up moms. The longer my mom is gone, the more I think of her every day. In honor of Mother’s Day, we share two stories of mother-daughter duos working together in the industry. It tells us so much about our great industry and the opportunity we have to inspire our kids to take a look at the possibilities.

Correcting Employees With Gratitude and a Focus on the Future


Dr.Laura Mach, DDS


Again, I ask you to read this issue cover to cover. Take it on your trip, in the bath, on your break with a hot cup of tea or at home with your favorite glass of wine. Drink in DeW. When you get a thought in your head or your heart that you think would inspire others around you, please give me a shout as I am always looking for a great narrative, insight or tutelage to share. We want to know what we can DeW for you!

Paw Elementary: Roxy’s Adventure to the School Dentist Katie Melko, RDH, MSDH

Keep DeWing you; keep sharing us. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being with me on this remarkable journey, DeW Life.



Bringing More Home


Navigating Your Practice Direction



Dr. Christina Blatchford

Dr. Lori Trost, DMD

Sonya Dunbar, RDA, MHA

DeW-ers Anne M. Duffy


Who, Wear, When


DeW Dish


Success 22 Living Your Strengths


Dental Entrepreneur Woman




On this 15-year journey, I’ve learned a lot. Here are a few things that have helped me feel more confident and prepared for the next phase. I hope you can gain some insight for your life/business:

By Rachel Wall


was in the third row sitting in a room full of friends and close colleagues. I was excited to be there, to be with these people. And at the same time, I was scared. Really scared. My consulting business, Inspired Hygiene, had gained some serious traction, and now there were people for whose livelihood I felt responsible. Employees and contractors who believed in me and what I had created. Up to this point, IH had been a bootstrap business. There were no angel investors (maybe there should have been) and no money from family or other sources. It was literally a month-to-month process of making some money and putting it right back into the business and our household. And things were going well. It was a slow build, but there was no debt, and it felt like a safe way to build a business… until it didn’t. We hit a rough patch. I had relied much too heavily on the advice of a distracted bookkeeper and a business coach whose immediate response to my situation was to fire everyone and break my office lease. We were in a financial tough spot. As all this was happening, I was attending a breakout with the brilliant Chuck Blakeman at the Speaking Consulting Network annual conference. When he showed an image similar to this, it was as if I was seeing my business with new eyes. I thought owning a business was supposed to be a straight line of growth ending in fireworks and big money. I was wrong. Chuck explained that businesses go through so many stages and some ups and downs. While every business may not experience this, my husband, Matt, encouraged me and told me this is very common. It didn’t mean my business was failing or that I was doing


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everything wrong. I just needed to take a closer look at things and figure out how to turn it around.

What I Thought Would Happen


VS Reality



Fortunately for me, a few months earlier, Matt pushed me to accept the offer our bank have given me to open a business line of credit. I believe God prepared me with this resource, as I was about to learn a major lesson. I tapped into the credit line, and it got us through the rough patch. I then hired a fractional CFO and paid off the line of credit over time. The CFO helped me plan for future growth, expenses and profits. I’m happy to report there’s a fund now to provide for taxes and weathering the ups and downs, which, of course, have come since then. While I had loving parents, they divorced when I was 4, and I grew up with a lot of uncertainty. In addition, both my parents regularly talked of hard financial times and the period in which my family “lost everything” because of a bad investment. I was a toddler and don’t remember it first-hand, but it was often relived with a regular driveby of the big, fancy house we lived in before the loss. I’m pretty sure this has something to do with my need to feel secure, however, as an entrepreneur, playing it safe is often not compatible with the strategies for running a thriving, growing business. Working on my mindset has been a HUGE part of keeping the business moving in a positive direction and staying focused. Even through the rough times, I am so grateful for the opportunity to own my own business. I’m immensely grateful every day for those with whom I get to work: the incredible men and women who believe in Inspired Hygiene and our vision to engage and inspire hygienists and dental teams to care for their patients at a very high level while having a satisfying career.


It is never a straight line. In business (and life) there are going to be ups and downs.


Be prepared for the rainy days because they will come. That doesn’t mean I want to manifest a problem or I’m being a pessimist. It’s just reality. Get a business line of credit – even if you never plan to use it. Every month, put away money for taxes and save at least three months operating expenses.


Choose advisors (mentors, coaches, bookkeepers, virtual assistants) who you feel are a bit out of your league. You’ll have to pay more for their services, and in my experience, it’s well worth it 90 percent of the time. You get what you pay for.


Watch your self-talk and give yourself some credit. I used to say, “I’m a hygienist with no business training.” I had a realization last year that this self-image and mindset were holding me and my business back. I have 15 years of hands-on business training. I still have A LOT to learn, and I’ve built a solid, respected business that gets results for our clients and operates with integrity.


There will ALWAYS be something to work on. As an entrepreneur, your to-do list is never finished, and you’ve got to come to terms with that. You must allow yourself to take time off to relax and enjoy the fruits of your labor… even if the to-do list still has some incomplete items.


Know your numbers. Looking at revenue rolling in is fun. Reading a P&L and looking at all the expenses going out is not so fun. Tough! If you’re a business owner, it is your responsibility to keep your company financially sound. Find someone who will patiently explain the numbers, help you understand how to create profit in the business and hold you accountable.

Life isn’t a straight line, so why should we expect our business to be? Surround yourself with supportive people. Your team, family, friends and mentors are your biggest assets and your best partners during the zigs and zags of business and in life. With their support, you’ll always be successful.

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About the author: Inspired Hygiene is committed to helping dentists tap into hygiene’s profit potential through coaching, webinars, mastermind groups and more! As founder of Inspired Hygiene, Rachel Wall, RDH, BS serves the dental community as a hygiene consultant and speaker. Passionate about service, Rachel coaches dental teams to build highly productive hygiene departments by creating and implementing systems for high quality periodontal care, enrolling restorative care through hygiene and managing the logistics of a high performance hygiene department. In addition to private coaching, Rachel draws from her 20-plus years of experience as a hygienist and practice administrator to deliver to-the-point clinical articles and speaking programs. She has spoken for numerous groups and events, including RDH Under One Roof and the AACD Annual Session. Rachel has written for, and been featured in, numerous industry journals including Dentistry Today, Progressive Dentist, RDH, and Hygienetown. She recently received the 2012 Dental Excellence Award from for “Most Effective Dental Hygienist Educator.” WWW.INSPIREDHYGIENE.COM 877-237-7230


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"I thought that I would have to give up the dream of working with at least one of my children forever. Not so!"

By Dr. Kimberly Harms & Hillary Harms Becchetti


illary and Kim are a mother/daughter team working together to provide legal, transition and consulting services that can help dentists from dental school graduation through retirement. Here’s a chat with them on how they got started and some tips on managing office conflicts. Kim: As a young dentist mom married to a dentist dad, I always envisioned at least one of our children following in our footsteps and taking over our practice. Unfortunately, none of them seem interested (they all wanted to go to law school), and I thought that I would have to give up the dream of working with at least one of my children forever. Not so! Last summer I officially began working with my daughter Hillary (the oldest), only instead of Hillary’s working for me in my dental practice, I was working for her in her law practice. Hillary: I spent my entire life surrounded by the dental world. My first job was at my parents’ dental practice; I handed out toothbrushes dressed as the tooth fairy for our small town’s Halloween walk, and almost every family vacation was wherever the ADA conference happened to be that year. You would think I would have followed in my parents’ footsteps, but I was a rebellious child, and I wanted to do something different. I thought I would be the next Johnny Cochran (the OJ trial was a big deal in my formidable years). My goal was to be a high-powered criminal defense attorney like Johnny or those other cool lawyers you see in shows like "Law and Order." Dentistry just wasn’t on my radar at the time. I never knew that someday I would come back to my roots.


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Kim: I graduated from the University of Maryland School of Dentistry in 1981. At that time there were very few women dentists, and the economy was horrible. Fortunately, both my husband, Jim, and I had received scholarships from the National Health Service Corps and had guaranteed jobs for three years. After my service I completed a General Practice Residency Program at Loyola University School of Dentistry before we moved to Minnesota and bought a practice in the small town of Farmington. Hillary: I spent my college and law school years studying, interning and working in the criminal law sector, realizing my dream of being the next big criminal defense attorney. Unfortunately, I happened to graduate law school in 2007, literally the worst year to graduate law school ever! There were no attorney jobs coming out of law school, and the recession was about to hit. So I considered myself fortunate when, six months after graduating, I got a job working as a judicial clerk in my local county. I rode out the recession as a law clerk. However, after really seeing the life of a criminal lawyer first hand, day after day, I began to question whether criminal law was the right area for me. Then when the economy was just recovering, I found out I was pregnant with twins. Surprise! Considering there were still not a lot of attorney jobs out there yet and my entire law clerk paycheck would go towards daycare for two infants, my husband and I decided that I should stay home with our girls. This ended up being the best thing that could have ever happened for my career and, of course, my life in general. Staying home with my girls gave me the

opportunity to reevaluate the direction I wanted to take my career. It was also during this time that my parents needed my help with one of their dental transitions. I told them they were crazy for hiring me as my background was criminal, but they trusted that I would be able to handle it. I didn’t know it at the time, but that transition changed my life. Kim: Organized dentistry has played an important role in my life. I was President of the Minnesota Dental Association (first woman), on two ADA councils, and a National Spokesperson and Consumer Advisor for the ADA. But on January 31st, 2009, I lost my son, Eric, to suicide. Eric was a kind, caring and brilliant student at Columbia University, and his loss is indescribable. In the emotional devastation that followed, I dropped out of most of my activities to concentrate on my family, especially my husband, Jim, who had just survived liver cancer and was now struggling even more physically and emotionally. Going back to work in dentistry after a devastating loss was very difficult. Every time I greeted a patient for the first time after my loss, I had to confront the loss again. Even so, work was my therapy; I loved the practice of dentistry. A year after losing Eric, however, I was diagnosed with a debilitating radiculopathy involving my drilling fingers and stemming from my neck. That put an immediate halt to my practice of clinical dentistry. Hillary: While staying at home with my twins and eventually my third child, I helped my parents through two transitions, helped their dental

friends with a few contracts here and there, and did a few wills for my friends and family. I realized at this time that I belonged in the dental world and, as a result, helping dentists with their legal needs became a passion of mine. My mother and I wrote an article together; and after that was published, my mother and I were asked to speak on the article’s content at the MDA Women’s Retreat the following fall. It was at that time that I decided to take my passion project and turn it into a career. Immediately after that retreat I opened my law firm and have been helping dentists with their legal needs ever since. I couldn’t have done this without the help of my mother. She served as the law firm dental consultant from the beginning, answering any questions regarding my cases from a dentist’s point of view. Now she heads up our conflict management branch and is a transition specialist. We have formed this amazing bond and team from our desire to help people in the world to which she has dedicated her life and in which I grew up. Kim: Many times over the last six years, Hillary commented that dentists would benefit from having more education in the law, transitions and conflict management. She suggested that, in addition to helping her with the dental side of transitions, contracts, etc., perhaps I could also help her develop a conflict management program that could help dentists prevent legal difficulties. Our first venture together was an article, “Keeping out of Harm’s Way: Pearls, Pitfalls and Lurking Perils of a Life in Dentistry,” which received the International College of Dentist’s Leadership in Journalism Award. After acting as

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TIPS FOR PREVENTING AND MANAGING CONFLICT Dental Team: • Develop, update and promote the office manual • Develop, update and promote an in-office conflict management program • Always keep your temper • Be proactive, not reactive: manage conflicts early

her dental consultant for the last six years, last summer she asked me to officially join her law firm, and we have been working closely together ever since! Hillary handles the legal side, and I handle the practical, dentist’s point of view, side. Every dentist’s nightmare is conflict among the staffff or conflict with patients. In our practice we developed a system of conflict management using respected conflict managers. Amazingly, we found that the conflict was reduced dramatically simply by making everyone accountable for solving problems and also giving everyone a safe way to manage conflict when they could not solve it themselves. Working with my daughter has been a dream come true. I am so glad she decided to commit her career to dentistry after all!

• Empower employees to own the problem, own the solution and refer complaints heard by other team members to the conflict managers or conflict management program • Recognize passive-aggressive behavior and bullying early and handle appropriately • Focus on the ultimate goal: outstanding delivery of dental care to the patients Managing Administrative or Clinical Errors: • Acknowledge complaint: listen from the heart with empathy and acknowledge their frustration • Apologize sincerely: take full responsibility and don’t blame or make excuses • Create resolution • Follow up with definitive timelines and keep communication open until resolved; let the patient know that you are working on a solution if there are any delays

About the authors: Hillary Harms Becchetti, JD is the owner and attorney at Pine Lake Dental Law & Transitions. She is a premier dental attorney and transition broker serving Minnesota and South Dakota. Dr. Kimberly Harms, DDS is a retired dentist, former MN Dental Association President, ADA spokesperson and National Delegate. Dr. Harms is now a national speaker, and she performs conflict management and transition consulting around the country for her daughter’s firm. Mother and daughter work together to provide legal, transition and consulting services that can help dentists from dental school graduation through retirement.

Sample Apology: “I am so sorry this happened, and I understand that you are upset. This is what I am going to do about it (be specific). I’ll check back in (specified time period) to ensure that everything has been resolved. Is there anything else I can do for you?"


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Pine Lake Law Firm, PLLC 651-428-2253

who, wear, when.








Upcoming Events

The Thomas P. Hinman Dental Meeting Georgia World Congress Center March 21-23, 2019 Atlanta, GA ROUND TABLE DISCUSSION WITH AMY KINNAMON




Front Office Rocks San Diego Marriott Mission Valley March 29, 2019 San Diego, CA Speakers Consulting Network June 7 - 9, 2019 Kansas City, KS




Be Boundless A-Dec Corporate Headquarters June 20-22, 2019 Newberg, OR




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An Oasis of Collaboration Arizona Grand Resort & Spa September 26-28, 2019 Phoenix, AZ

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W e D

h s i D

Getting to know more about our DeW-ers, the women that make up the dental world.


Dental Entrepreneur Woman

What obstacles have you overcome in your career? Gaining clarity and certainty of one’s path is a great feat. I wandered and wondered in my younger days, and I hid from what was most likely my determined path. I avoided critical conversations. I avoided personal responsibility. Self-inflicted obstacles on my career path were my greatest hurdles that I had to overcome.

What obstacles have you overcome in your life? Some of the greatest challenges I have faced in my life have been in my role as a business owner and leader. The stress, strain, heartbreaks and challenges come and go, but it takes a great deal of grit, perseverance and clarity of vision to KEEP MOVING FORWARD through the dips. You are often asked to “pour from an empty cup” to keep your team moving and motivated. But in the end the journey is worth it, and I have grown exponentially from each experience and each lesson. It is from these experiences and lessons that my passion for our work stems - a great respect and honor for my fellow entrepreneurial brothers and sisters.

What is the best part of your job? The relationships - with my team, our clients and industry friends - I have many meaningful relationships that have been created over time. I get to work with loved ones, family and friends that I do life with both inside and outside of work!

Who has been the most influential woman in your life? I have two: my mother, Cathy Jameson, and my grandmother, Dorothy Jameson.

How do you measure your success? To be able to do good work while following my compass and honoring my values while working with great integrity. When those with whom I work - both teammates and clients - share experiences between us that line up with the core values that are most important to me...that is the most meaningful part to me. In the end, success is doing work that you love with people you love for people you love.

What do you do to turn around a bad day? I listen to great music and spend time with the most precious people in my life - my husband, my children, my family and my closest friends.

What is your guilty pleasure? Wine and Starbucks!

What advice do you have for the new person in your office? Our core values are key - honor your team and clients, and through these values, we will do great work together!

What “DeW” leaders do? Great leaders not only create a vision worth pursuing but they also lead toward that vision by example. Cheryl Bachelder wrote, “The leader must have both - the courage to take the people to a daring destination and the humility to selflessly serve others on the journey.” I agree with all my heart.

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What do you do to turn around a bad day?

which happened to be on my birthday. The stresses of dealing with school and grieving proved to be all too much, and I ended up having to repeat my junior year due to 0.01 of a point. It was an eye-opening, humbling experience that taught me that sometimes you have to go back to go forward. Nothing in life was to be handed to me despite seeing it done for others, and that made me stronger and who I am today.

On a bad day, I give it up and do something else. If it's late, I go to bed and start over tomorrow. If it's earlier, I go blow off steam by walking, gambling on penny slots or shopping. A little retail therapy is all a DeWer needs. :)

What is your guilty pleasure?

What obstacles have you overcome in your life?

What is the best part of your job? The best part of my job is being able to give people the confidence to smile again.

Who has been the most influential woman in your life? The most influential woman in my life, as cliché as it may sound, is my mom. She exemplifies strength, nurturing, support and pure love.

How do you measure your success? I measure success by the number of lives I’ve been able to influence. People from where I grew up didn’t become doctors, but so many see it’s possible now; and for that I am grateful. I don’t think I’ve achieved success to the point I feel fulfilled yet. I think there is so much more to come that I’ve only begun to tap into.

What obstacles have you overcome in your career? Dental school was challenging for me my junior year. This was immediately following Hurricane Katrina, and I was dealing with the fact that all of my family was displaced. Three of my grandparents died in a year’s time with my maternal grandparents’ being buried exactly a year apart,


I grew up in inner city New Orleans where I witnessed the effects of drugs and gun violence. Despite it all I was always focused academically and was pushed to be better. I think I have shown so many who didn’t know it was possible that success can be achieved regardless of from where you come. I go home and so many tell me how proud they are of me, and that is an amazing feeling. They acknowledge that we all had the same opportunity, the difference is I took advantage of mine. It doesn’t make me better, it just means I took the steps to become different.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Potato Chips

What “DeW” leaders do? Good leaders DeW what it takes to get the job done, but they do it with grace and compassion.

What is your favorite Indoor/Outdoor Activity?

What is the best part of your job?

Cake: white or yellow with butter cream or cream cheese icing.

The best part of my job is getting to deal with a variety of people and tasks. I also enjoy the flexibility of working from home.

What advice do you have for the new person in your office?

Who has been the most influential woman in your life?

Don’t be content with just “good enough.”

My mother has influenced me the most in my life. Even though she only had a high school diploma, she went on to have a successful career managing a 3-location podiatry office.

What “DeW” leaders do? Leaders are not afraid to do what may seem difficult and are those that lead by example. Leaders lead with compassion and work to create other leaders. I describe myself as a leader and not a boss.

They are playing your theme song as you walk on stage. Name that tune! Eye of the Tiger

What is first on your dental bucket list? I’d like to expand my practice to incorporate more comprehensive dentistry/full-mouth rehab.

How do you measure your success? To me, success is measured by the current happiness of myself and my family. Wealth is NOT a measure of a successful life.

What obstacles have you overcome in your career? In 2010, a magazine that I built and for which I had worked for over 10 years closed down due to the economy. Just two weeks later, my husband lost his job of 6 years. It was a terrifying time, and we worked hard to make life keep running for our son. Eventually, after realizing there were no jobs out there making what I was, I decided to just make my own job and started my own freelance marketing company.

Indoors, I enjoy movies, reading and playing board games with my family. Also, when I have a little time, some crafting. Outdoors, I like hiking, boating and just walking in the sunshine… that last one preferably on a beach, but that’s tough in Ohio.

What is your dream vacation? My dream vacation is Hawaii. My husband and I passed on that as a honeymoon to save money and have regretted it ever since. We tried for our 5th, 10th and 15th anniversaries, and it couldn’t happen. We are now shooting for DeWing it in 2021. Cross your fingers for us.

What does balance look like? For me, balance would be having enough money AND time to be able to create memories with my loved ones.

What movie always makes you laugh? “The Heat.” Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock are just so funny together.

What is the best gift you ever received? Our son, Mark.

How do you take your coffee? With about ¼ cream and ¾ coffee.





others play a variety of roles in their children’s lives. I never would have guessed that “colleague” would be a role I would have with my daughter, Lauren Rowan RDH, BSDH. Both Lauren and I express how fortunate we are to have similar careers and professional interests. We are also keenly aware of the challenges this unique situation can bring. While we may be colleagues, we also recognize we will never be equals. Lauren and I have a relationship with a very specific history which sets us apart from our other colleagues. While this may seem elementary on the surface, the fact that we are mother and daughter cannot be ignored, even though we certainly try sometimes! Never being equals does not equate to one is better than the other; quite the opposite. I continually find myself learning from her, and this reverse nurturing is a very special phenomenon. Balance, mutual respect and practicing flexibility are some of the ways we have discovered to make this relationship work. The journey is only beginning on some level, and we hope you enjoy some insight into how it all started.

Mom’s Journey: I started out the journey of motherhood with an idealistic image of afternoons in the rocking chair, hours of peek-aboo and walks in the park with my baby smiling at me from her stroller. As you may guess, things didn’t necessarily roll out that way! This energetic, confident woman’s world was suddenly upside down, and I was desperately trying to turn it right side up. I found myself dealing with fears I didn’t know I had, and at the same time, I felt indescribable joy. What I wish I learned sooner than later was the art of being flexible. Not the kind on the yoga mat, but spiritual flexibility with the ability to bend, be open minded and teachable.


Dental Entrepreneur Woman

By Marianne Dryer & Lauren Rowan

A healthy and flexible spirit is not something that has come easy to me and is something with which I still struggle. Raising a strong-willed child is challenging for the more inflexible in nature, and in fact, it can be utterly exhausting! It has been said that strong-willed children will become adults who change the world if we can hang on for the ride and resist the temptation to tame the spirit out of them. Looking back, I can see this beautiful, energetic, inquisitive little girl was the source of much emotional and spiritual growth for me. Whenever anyone asks about my daughter Lauren, I generally reply with, “I wish I was more like her.” She is 27 going on 47, and I affectionately refer to her as "Ethel" on occasion. She has an old soul, one that seeks wisdom and knowledge, but perhaps more noticeably, she seeks kindness. She possesses a genuine desire to help others and has the ability to see the bigger picture. From the very beginning Lauren had a sense of purpose, direction and a can-do attitude. I remember admiring her strength, even when she defied my directions and chose to do things her way. Letting go as they say is difficult for Type A individuals and even harder with your children. The intention or desire is to protect them from hardships and disappointment. However, that’s what eventually defines and shapes their character. What I have come to understand is that your actions as a parent or teacher are so much more powerful than your words. As much as Lauren and I had our power struggles, she always wanted to be around me, part of what I was doing, and so often I wish I could go back in time and truly enjoy the journey. My career has flourished in dentistry from clinical

practice to education and now to speaking to clinicians. I am grateful for the success and the support my family gave me through the years. The long hours, the weekends that were given up to dental events and the heavy load of furthering my degree often kept me away from my children. I knew they were proud of me at the same time, not through words, but through their actions. Lauren always wanted to come to the college as a young girl and help with the fundraisers and simply be in the dental clinic. Growing up surrounded by dentistry, children will either follow their parents’ paths or go the total opposite way. I am deeply honored and grateful for her decision to pursue a career in dentistry. Words cannot express the pride I feel watching her develop and grow as a clinician, an educator and as my colleague.

The first time I saw my mom present at the NYU Dental School was pivotal for me. She was truly captivating and was able to take such heavy material and make it engaging and applicable. I realized that all her clinical experience, years in education and countless hours from her personal life had brought her to this place. At the end of the presentation, she came up to me and said, “How did I do?” Number one, why would she even ask that? And number two, she asked me! I remember it surprised me how much she prepared for the presentation, and looking back, I understand that no matter how much experience or how many accolades someone has, preparation and practice are keys to success. In that moment I knew what I wanted to do: become a teacher and become a very good one.

My pride and joy truly stem from watching that tiny little girl with the will of a steam engine develop into an amazing, talented, skilled clinician, and her gifts to the profession are only just beginning. I have become a better teacher, speaker and perhaps even a better person by watching her grow in the profession. I am grateful that she followed in my footsteps. Her best is yet to come, and what an honor it is to watch that unfold!

My mother is my best friend, mentor, colleague, inspiration and ultimate support system. I have a long road ahead in building my resume. I hope that I can be as effective in the dental hygiene community as I have seen my mother and other powerful women become. It is my goal to professionally collaborate with my mom, bringing hygienists from all experience levels together to learn. My mother and I have very different natures, and we are wired very differently. At the same time, we have a complimentary dynamic, and I am so excited to see where life takes us!

Lauren’s Journey: Growing up with parents in the dental field, I have always felt that dentistry has been a part of my life. My stepfather is a general dentist, and I always admired his dedication to his patients and his clinical expertise. I had aspirations of dental school and believed this would be the path I would travel. I also enjoyed visiting the college where my mom taught and was frequently a patient to help meet her students’ requirements; willing or otherwise! I especially enjoyed when there were community events going on to help the underserved with dental needs or being part of the students’ numerous projects. I entered college as a pre-dental major but along the way recognized how much I really wanted to be a dental hygienist. My parents always encouraged me to pursue my dreams, but in all honesty, I was afraid to tell my stepdad of the change in plan. He was more than understanding and supportive, and I learned another lesson in selfacceptance and the power of unconditional love.

About the authors: Marianne Dryer has over 30 years of experience in dentistry, and she is a dynamic national and international speaker, educator and corporate consultant in curriculum development. She is a graduate of Forsyth School for Dental Hygienists, Old Dominion University and received her master’s degree in education from St. Joseph’s College of Maine. She has been a faculty member at Cape Cod Community College since 2007. She is also a Periodontal Instrumentation Instructor for DH Methods of Education, Inc., an educational program for dental and dental hygiene faculty.

I truly felt I was in the right place at the UNC dental hygiene program, and although the curriculum was demanding, I fell in love with the patient communication aspect.

Lauren Rowan is an enthusiastic and dynamic clinical educator. She holds faculty positions at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and Cape Cod Community College Dental Hygiene Programs. Lauren received her Bachelor of Science degree in dental hygiene from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is working on her master’s degree at Saint Joseph’s College of Maine. She currently practices as a clinical hygienist in general and pediatric practices. She facilitated instrumentation programs at UNC and NYU and has worked as a dental hygiene coach in various office locations.

My passion for connecting with people undoubtedly came from my parents. I have always been in awe of my mom’s ability to talk to anyone and everyone about anything. My mom exudes positive energy, and I always strive to communicate as effectively as she does.

Marianne Dryer RDH, MEd CE Renewed Inc. (214) 502-4063

Dental Entrepreneur Woman




here’s nothing more beautiful to my eyes than seeing my schedule fully booked. All those solid blocks with no empty spots fill my soul with deep satisfaction. When this happens I bask in the abundance, in having demand for my services, and in knowing the practice’s finances are secure. When the day of patient care closes, I thank my team. Then I rush home to my family and my other responsibilities and also to rest and restore myself for the next day. On these patient care days, I do not have the energy or the mental space to think about anything but being the best dentist and then getting home to be the best mom (and the best sleeper). By the time the end of the week rolls around and I start looking around at the whirlwinds we endured to get every patient excellent care, I start to remember that I am not only a dentist. I also own the business within which I deliver care. Sometimes I will walk up to the front desk and jokingly introduce myself to my very sharp and kind office manager. “Oh hi, do you work here? I’m Laura,” I say with an ironic smile. We laugh and ask each other how the week went for the other. This pause in my week is frequently when I am aware enough of my business-owning duties to find out that an employee of mine has made an error, one that I may not have noticed before because I was deep in delivering care. As dental professionals, our management duties are performed with hands that are normally gloved and submerged in biofluids, busy performing detailed tasks where microns matter and where patients need 100% of our immediate attention. To add insult to injury, as women the vast majority of us have been socialized since we were young girls by the adults around us to “Be nice, you don’t want to make


Dental Entrepreneur Woman

By Dr. Laura Mach

the other person feel bad!” Fast forward to the present day when you have a “DDS” after your name, seven loyal employees, and a nice fat bank note to pay down each month. You drive the ship of your dental practice with the sheer determination that you gained while making it through years of school. Your patients adore your kindness and skills. But, you have a problem. Between not being physically present when your employee makes a mistake and the additional challenge of being socialized to “be nice,” you’re in a tricky spot when it comes to correcting that employee. You don’t want to seem like a bitch, and you want the employee to know that you are grateful; but getting all that across while still correcting the behavior just seems exhausting. There have been many times when you just let it go because it just seemed too hard. Have you ever just let it go? We can be real with each other here. I know you have. It pains us; but the kids are waiting for us to pick them up and take them to their team practice, the weekend is almost here, and maybe if we just turn our heads and look the other way it won’t happen again. Here is the point in the article where I get to tell you an uncomfortable but empowering truth. Stop reading now if you aren’t in the mood to hear an Uncomfortably Empowering Truth. Your dental practice, with all its ecosystems and protocols, every tiny habit, has evolved into an entity that is Exactly. As. You. Have. Chosen. It. The first time I had this epiphany I was on a plane. Staring out at the top of the clouds, horrified considering all the chaos I had allowed over the years, I had the most powerful sensation. If I had made the practice this way up until now, I could still sculpt it into something more deliberate. This

time I could be more intentional. Ultimately as the leader of the practice, it would become what I chose, and I could choose more carefully this time around. Of course, that meant I had to go home and make some course corrections. Ugh, I dreaded that. My mind searched for ways to avoid the abhorrent task of correcting employees. “I’m nice! I care! I can’t tell them I want them to change! What if they don’t like what I say?!?!?!” Well, Sister, I can tell you that I have learned how to do what I dreaded. And I don’t want to brag or anything but….here I am writing an article about it, so I think I have developed a pretty good system! Let’s go back to that part about being a woman again. Yes, in some ways we can look at it as a handicap. I am positive I myself have looked at it that way for the earlier years of my life. Fun fact about me: I was born into a subculture of America that teaches their women that the men are the leaders and not to pursue a professional education while there are babies to raise. In fact, I was told many times over that careers were for men. I tell you this not to whine but to point out to you that if I, who was socialized to be dependent on a man in every capacity of my life, can learn to be a strong leader, then I know you can do this, too. And you will be so glad that you can! Guess what? I have another piece of good news for you. I propose very confidently that, being a female leader in practice, you actually have a tactical advantage over the men-folk; and it is your secret weapon. That weapon is empathy: the ability to see the point of view of the person you are going to correct. This method I am going to outline requires empathy, and I believe confidently that it’s the

key to success. It emphasizes future results, not blame. The concept of blame has no space in female-empowered leadership. Pointing the finger makes everyone feel bad, and it’s not effective. Employees who feel bad are not going to perform better for you! So, empowered with your secret weapon and your newfound knowledge that you can overcome your socialization, here are your steps to successful correction with gratitude and a focus on the future:


Identify the mistake by describing it with written words. Remember this action is best done with the most specificity you can define!


Decide when you will talk to your employee about this (sooner is better but get through your whirlwinds first) and, right before you pull the employee into a private place to chat, recall how you felt in dental school when a teacher disapproved of your effort. You wanted so much to be good, and their disapproval was the WORST. The vast majority of dental employees choose their careers because they want to help. They feel the same way you did in dental school. Find that empathy for what she will go through when she is corrected.


Express gratitude for the employee’s efforts and skills, setting the tone. Employees crave being appreciated. “Thank you so much for everything you do for our practice. I especially appreciate the way you so carefully set up each operatory before bringing back the patients.” (you get the idea)

Dental Entrepreneur Woman


T:7” S:7”



Point out the mistake, and give an alternative chosen behavior. “You have been coming to work five minutes late. I want you to aim for five minutes early so that your fellow employees and I can depend on you.”


Reassure her important role on the team, and express confidence that she can adjust her behavior. “I know your teammates value your contributions, and all of them will love having you on time every day.”


Follow through with encouragement when you see her doing it right. It’s basic psychology, folks! Reward the behavior you want, and remember that your compliments are free but ridiculously valuable. I cannot overemphasize this enough.

Now. Contrast this with some of the ineffective ways you could have handled this: • “I am SICK AND TIRED of your coming in late!” (anger) • “Oh, I see you must have run into another Iowa traffic jam on your way to work today.” (sarcasm) • “Hey Julie, do you know why Sally is always late to work lately?” (gossip)

About the author: Dr. Laura Mach is in private practice in Marion, Iowa. She also coaches female dentists who are experiencing discontent or frustration as they navigate those MomDentisting years. You can find Laura in the following places: Facebook Messenger Facebook Page @DrLauraMachDDS email:

“I’m not moving teeth because I need them straight. I move them for a purpose.” Healthy, functional smiles are her mission. Invisalign® treatment and the iTero Element® scanner are her means. Dr. Soto believes a healthy smile is a beautiful smile. That’s why she harnesses the imaging power of the iTero Element scanner to discover what’s really going on with her patients’ teeth, then uses Invisalign clear aligners to help fix issues at the source. This work lays the foundation for comprehensive care with an enhanced digital workflow, leading to better oral health and better relationships with her patients. A more beautiful smile is the added bonus. Go beyond with Invisalign clear aligner therapy and the iTero Element scanner. Get started at


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Karla Soto, DDS Boca Raton, FL


DeWers, let’s arm ourselves with our secret weapon to make our practice ecosystems deliberately chosen as places of appreciation and results. I know that as we do this, our practices, and our thoughts about our practices, will improve. Our sense of well being about our practices will spread to our peers, and we will continue to elevate not only ourselves but the entire practice of dentistry.


These methods are more “past” focused, and therefore much less effective.




For over 100 years, Patterson Dental has built relationships with practices of all kinds, listening to needs and delivering industry-leading solutions. From office design to dental supplies, we offer the help you need to create the ideal practice environment. And a de-stressed office means you’re free to provide the best possible care to every patient.


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aw Elementary is an educational children’s book that takes a child on an adventure with Roxy as she goes through the days leading up to her first dental checkup. While in kindergarten, Roxy and her friends find out that a dental clinic will be going on over the next few days. She relies on her family and friends to help her understand and get through this new experience, as it makes her nervous. Join them as they experience the dental clinic, find out about all the equipment and tools, and most importantly, watch how she overcomes a fear of hers. This book is great for children who love animals, as all the characters are dogs and cats. Paw Elementary is a book I decided to write in memory of my first dog, Roxy. She was my fur child and helped me get through three degrees, moving out of my parent’s home and starting my life with my husband. I miss her greatly, and now she can live on furever in these pages. The other characters in the book are all animals that were or are currently in my life. My hope is to make a series of books that help children as they experience certain things they are going through in school, like losing a tooth, nutrition, going to a schoolbased health center, getting bullied, special needs and so much more. I hope you can join us on Roxy’s adventures. I pawsitively believe children will love going on adventures with Roxy and her friends. Going to the dentist can be a very scary time for children. Most of the time, the fear of the unknown makes it so unsettling. Having the proper tools to educate and create


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a fun environment are key to providing a great experience. Add in a child going to a school dental clinic into the mix, and you have a fearful child who is also not with their parents. I worked in mobile dentistry for most of my 10-year career, and I learned that technique and the way you present the equipment is so important. A child takes in so much detail, and providing a safe space for them is essential to making their first visit a success.

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I love writing, and I’m happy that getting a master’s degree has helped prepare me for this realm in dentistry. I wouldn’t have told you five years ago that this is where I thought I’d be. This road has been a roller coaster, but I’m extremely grateful for the support system I have at home and in the industry. I hope that you will check out my new business, 12 Paws Publishing, LLC, on Instagram, Facebook and on my website Or head to my personal social media accounts. I love to mentor, and I’m always willing to share anything about my career. If it wasn’t for my mentors, I wouldn’t have experienced half of the things I have. I’m truly blessed for that. Having a great support system and creating a tribe of people who will keep you positive and push you forward when you feel like giving up are so important. Keep DeWing you! 12PAWSPUBLLC@GMAIL.COM

Dental Entrepreneur Woman




BRINGING MORE HOME How profitable you want to be is a choice. Many times, the female dentist is the breadwinner and feels that pressure.

By Dr. Christina Blatchford


omen are now a real force in dentistry. We have grown from being unique and unusual to making things happen for our patients, our families and ourselves both collectively and individually. We are approaching 50% parity. We are a force. We are contributing well and yet, women can be more profitable and feel more rewarded for all these efforts. Being profitable is not a selfish endeavor. It is not a four-letter word to be avoided. Rather, being profitable puts you in a position of choice. Being more profitable means being on solid ground in fulfilling your continuing education, continuing team confidence, taking more time away, creating a team bonus system, having the important life/work balance, and genuinely enjoying your dental practice. Earning the rewards from a dental practice needs to be stated in your vision statement. You need to acknowledge being profitable as a practice goal. Your team needs to know profit is one of the reasons you lead a private dental practice. Talk with your team about what we do in the dental practice, for whom do we do this and why we do what we do. Your team wants you to be profitable as it means job security for them. Sometimes their perception of your costs might be adding all the team wages in their head and thinking you make all the rest. Later, it would be interesting for them to see a budget for all the things you, as the owner, are responsible. It will be a real eye-opener. My purpose would be to show them “where does the money go?” This may be uncomfortable for you. We acknowledge


Dental Entrepreneur Woman

how you feel. However, this may be the reason you are frustrated about the rewards in your practice. Being profitable never involves putting pressure on patients or the team. It is more about leadership, organization, goals, systems in place and practicing possible conversations. You are leading a business and you did go into dentistry with some knowledge it can be profitable. Let us help you make your business more profitable. We hear dentists say, “I want to reduce my overhead” instead of, “I want to increase my profits.” By increasing your profits, you decrease your overhead and it is a more positive statement. Increasing your profits allows you to more easily make all your payments and gives you more “wiggle room.” You can reduce some overhead, but much is fixed, the same every month. There is real joy in making more money and paying those fixed costs with a smile. More money allows you a more positive outlook on life and your future. Instead of dreading each payment, you can see a brighter future for your team, your family, your dreams of becoming an even more skilled dentist, and more. How profitable you want to be is a choice. Many times, the female dentist is the breadwinner and feels that pressure. How much is enough for you and your family? This is time for a solid study and conversation for you as an individual and with your spouse. What are your dreams regarding retirement, travel, second home and education for children? You need to find your “why” you would increase your profitability. What will you do with the new money? What are your long-range plans,

how much money is involved, and how can you reach your goals?

interests and relax. They also want to be successful in the dental career they have chosen.

We encourage you to read The Number by Lee Eisenberg to figure out how much is going to be enough—both short term and long term. What is the number you will need when you get to the end of your dental career? What does that look like for you?

How to have more time? It seems incongruous to make more money and take more time away. The average dentist works 204 days. America has grown up with many grandparents and parents living and working with an hourly mentality. You may have experienced this in adolescence when working overtime or more hours meant a larger paycheck. Dentistry can be very successful with a different mentality.

In goal setting, the more clearly we can define the goal, the better the results. If a goal is not clearly defined, it is hard to know if we have reached the target. That is why when we say, “I want to be more profitable,” we encourage you to have a specific net amount and a “by when” this figure is hoped to be true. Specifics are measurable, and you need to make a goal real. When you know your numbers and are on track with your goals, you can relax because you are on your way. Just feel that relaxation when all is in order. You can have that feeling of accomplishment. Fortunately, you have chosen the right profession and are skilled. There is no one out there dictating your hours, your team, your treatments and your choices. Because you are totally in charge, there can be a feeling of floundering alone. At Blatchford Solutions, we coach dentists in private practice in their business setup and decisions. We help you establish all these positive systems and skills to have your practice be more organized, profitable and gaining you more time away. An important request female dentists have is to own more free time. They are torn between two or three worlds and want to be the best in all areas. They want to be the great mom, the one who has time to guide and love the children. They want to have time for themselves to chase their

In my case, when I work, I want to make each hour be the most productive and efficient possible. I do not want to just fill my time with treatments that do not even cover my overhead. I want my accountable and enthusiastic team to push me and schedule every hour effectively so we are all utilizing our “best selves.” By being more productive on a lesser number of days, I not only make more, I can take more time away to be the person of whom I have also dreamed but is presently missing. Let’s put some numbers to this. Let’s say you work the average of 204 days a year. If you could produce the same as you do now (but why not increase your production?) and work 50 less days to 154, would that be enough incentive for you? This is not a dental rodeo. Yet, we have very productive female dentists working 130 days a year. It is a bigger challenge to be profitable without your staff’s full effort. Therefore, there needs to be a reason or a “why” for your team to be involved in sales conversations, to help you reach or exceed the daily production goal, to arrange for “same day dentistry,” and be enthused about your dentistry. It is called a team bonus.

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We are the future of dentistry, and we are glad you joined us. If you are on Facebook, and a member of The Society, be sure to request admission to our private group.


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If your team knows and understands the “why” of making a great effort and getting involved, they can make profitability happen. Solid systems of collecting, team communication, daily goals, sales conversations and the all-important block scheduling are implemented. These are systems all team members know and embrace. It is not too difficult to create a great deal of enthusiasm for a team bonus. Your top team members will get it and lead it. The rules for team bonuses are not complex, and everyone is equal. It is not based on his/her pay, so everyone is equal. When the team knows the rules and has continual training and cross-training, it is a most enjoyable game for them. Some of our practices actually have team members earning as much in bonuses as their prescribed pay.

Simplicity in practice


Let’s say you have a secret daily goal of $4500. If your team knew you were capable of producing larger treatments and a new larger goal is what you want, could they help you complete a $7K day every day, if they knew they would be earning a set amount more when all are involved in making things happen?


While we are looking at profitability, your current fee schedule can be examined. Are you in the 90th percentile? Are you an average dentist? Why average fees? What are you doing to expand your skills? The dental school skill set is good, and it takes real CE to become a great dentist. Invest in a comprehensive restorative program like the Kois CRE or Pankey, and take it all the way through. Avoid bouncing from one program to the next. Pace yourself so you can absorb and incorporate concepts into your practice.




Becoming more profitable has so many advantages for you and your team. A solid plan to profitability creates ease, more time, relaxation, being a loving mom to your children, having a fulfilling marriage and puts you in control.

About the author: Dr. Christina Blatchford is CEO of Blatchford Solutions, known for 35 years as America’s premier dental business coaching firm helping dentists create more net return, more time away and more joy for dentistry. Check out for doctor testimonials, podcasts and available books, the latest being Seven Principles of Highly Profitable Dentists. You can call us at (888) 977-4600.


MacPractice beats Dentrix, Eaglesoft, and Softdent in CR Reports User Satisfaction Survey* - Read full report at * CR Choice designation in the March 2017 issue of the Independent Clinicians Report

MacPractice Simplicity in practice

living your strengths



Gaining Speed With the increase in office space came the need to hire more employees. The need to create a culture where employees can realize their potential and polish their skills was critical. That meant education for all team members. Morning huddles, CPR training and team retreats led to emerging leader success. Some courses focused on developing a robust hygiene sector, a few centered on practice management and others revolved around esthetic and implant dentistry. No matter what, everyone in the office became cross-trained to gain the best understanding and appreciation for what we all were learning and could do come Monday morning!


By Dr. Lori Trost

Education is an investment in your team that you grow with expectation and realize in time with experience. NEVER underestimate its value! through their leadership and mentoring they propel you upwards, not laterally.


entistry is a unique profession in that it offers the opportunity to blend entrepreneurialism, technology and artistry. Like many, those appealing characteristics certainly caught my eye. The ability to sset my own schedule seemed even more benefitcial for me, speaking as a female dentist, a mother and someone who is involved in the community. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?

Initially, that single fully-equipped operatory quickly grew to the need for three. And, in just under three years, a full-time practice was created and paid for. My ship was sailing. Six years after that initial leap of faith, I made a HUGE decision to buy my own building and continue to grow a dream practice in the same community. Talk about scary – starting a practice from scratch with one chair was one thing, but now moving to a much larger space and almost tripling it was just short of mind-boggling.

But truth be told, becoming a dentist does not equate to success, nor does it compare to being a leader! Much of what is done in everyday practice was never taught in dental school. Learning dental materials, finalizing a wax-up and and first injection success were paramount versus fathoming leadership attributes. The intangible qualities of respect, appreciation, influence and support were never mentioned, just assumed when correlating my role as a future dentist. No matter what dental school you attended, the location of your office or when you graduated, I have learned that leadership is fundamental to the success of a dental practice. Within every office, there are employees who seek direction daily in their purpose and patients who need guidance with their treatment, along with the necessary business decisions. That being said, without leadership, it is easily understood why dental practices drift away and never firmly anchor onto an intentional foundation. Early in my career and without knowing, several situations intersected my professional path. Blame my naiveté, but each decision and the outcomes that followed threw me into leadership roles I had to learn to commandeer. Simply put, there was no “how to” manual. Looking back, the mere gravity of each decision provided lessons that, to this day,


Dental Entrepreneur Woman

continue to define much of my professional career and approach.

Charting a Course After dental school graduation and two years as an associate, I made the decision to embark on a journey of starting a practice on my own in a small suburban town (pop. 10,000). Without a business plan or bank loan, I somehow managed to secure an 800 sq. ft. space. Looking back at how unprepared I was, somehow the benefits of “my own” practice played out. I learned how to negotiate a lease, find a CPA (who I still use years later) and sought out advice from business mentors. You may NOT think this involves leadership, but in fact it DOES! The people you surround yourself with matter! They can become trusted resources, and

This time around was completely different. There were so many decisions. I did more homework, and now my financials were sound. I took more courses and broadened my services. I studied efficiency and practice management. I worked with equipment and office design experts. I read business books that I began applying to my growing practice. I wanted to create a space that would be a dental home for employees and patients. I was effectively working on myself to become a credible leader. My purpose, my true north, was rooted in the old “if you build it they will come” adage!

Lesson No. 1 Good leaders are NOT born or naturally made. You must learn to be a leader! Taking on a leadership role is an acquired skill that must be practiced. Only through hard work, focused learning and sometimes unusual circumstances can leaders emerge. There is no wrong way to be a leader – decide and then act. Like Max Lucado says, “If you want to lead the orchestra, you must turn your back to the crowd.”

As the educational structure of the practice matured, the internal components of support, appreciation and motivation increased among the team members. We continually strive to be a dental family, but within that family, there is a need for a recognized leader. Women often have a harder time with this specific delineation. You want to be friends with your employees, but at the end of the day, you are still their manager. In my eyes, a boss gives orders, while a leader/manager invites and inspires. Finding a healthy balance is essential. That being said there are many wonderful celebrations that occurred. We have welcomed marriages, babies and anniversaries to list a few. But, we also weathered storms (literally) and rocky coasts. After a weekend of heavy thunderstorms, we walked into the office on Monday morning to find it was jolted by a bolt of lightning. Beautifully, the cloud backup system worked, and we didn’t lose any data. Kudos to a team who made the best of a very difficult situation, especially when we are paperless! We also had a patient who experienced a cardiac episode at the start of his periodontal recare appointment. Our CPR refresher course and response were put to the test, and after the patient was properly managed, we transferred him to the hospital for triple bypass surgery. I have also had employees who suffered tremendous personal tragedy and consequences out of their control. The best way to face these situations is be who you are: honest, humble and strong. No matter the circumstances – good or bad – I have learned to listen, value and respect the impact that each of these situations have presented. As the leader of the practice, my responsibility is to keep the focus of the practice on the goodness and joy we bring to our patients and to each other.

Dental Entrepreneur Woman


living your strengths

Lesson No. 2 You can have the most aesthetically pleasing and technology driven dental practice, but without a talented team, you have nothing! Create a strategic vision to attract like-minded employees. Then inspire and influence these employees to grow and refine their skills. As Steve Jobs says, “From follower to leader - the difference is innovation.”

Miss Us Between Issues? Don't worry. You can get a little DeW inspiration all over the web.

Leader Shift No matter how long you’ve been in dentistry, I’m sure you’ve seen many changes. Changes in dental materials, equipment, procedures, coding, patients and social media, to name a few. We operate in a constant environment of change, but no matter what is different around us, there are constants. Your practice brand, your team harmony, your procedural synchronicity and your integrity must remain as your mainstays. A good dentist knows her limitations professionally and understands strong team members. A good dentist and leader promotes unparalleled team building processes and recognizes key players within the team who can also be molded to further the fostering of the practice. A true dental leader is not afraid to see leaders emerge from within the team. This kind of evolution is vital to the growth, change and stability of your practice. As the leader, I have had to learn to take control of my schedule, integrate regular practice meetings, plan lunch and learns, set goals for whitenings each month, and track referrals and completed treatments. As a team, we collectively plan what we want to learn next. As a dentist, my leadership extends beyond patient care. My everyday requirements are expressed through the people around me. In order for the team to be rowing in sync, we must move forward with a uniform direction driven by leadership.

Lesson No. 3 The most valuable gift a leader can give an employee is to be a good example! Standout qualities to embrace are support, motivation, influence, impact and appreciation. These specific elements embody a culture that effective dental professional leaders can embrace and use to build a healthy and happy practice. A leader takes people where they want to go. Rosalyn Carter said it well, “A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.”

personality, but their willingness to be molded into a position and their ability to influence those around them. While I have learned these abilities are not unique to dentistry, they are necessary to create a team that openly contributes with equal opportunity to the success of the practice. I guess that just makes me a dentist and still a leader in progress!

About the author: Dr. Lori Trost, DMD is an accomplished dental educator who graduated from Southern Illinois University. She maintains a private comprehensive restorative practice in the Greater St. Louis area, regularly contributes to professional journals, and is a Dental Advisor evaluator. Lori has been spotlighted as a “Top 25 Women in Dentistry” by DPR, is a Shils Foundation Recipient by the ADA, and was once again recognized as a Leader in Continuing Education by Dentistry Today. When she is not in the office, you can find her spending time with her family, traveling, playing the piano, or participating in her Wednesday ladies golf league.

Your True North What really makes a good leader is not their title or their


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living your strengths



office, as most are bed- or wheelchair-bound. I recall one incident when I was asked to look at a resident who had a foul mouth odor. When I walked into the room, I saw a cute, tiny 93-year-old lady in a wheelchair. One of the first things I noticed was that she could not use her hands because they were deformed from arthritis. I then noticed she had difficulties communicating. It took me about 30 minutes to get her to open her mouth. Once I investigated her mouth, it appeared to be a denture. I went to get her caregiver to ask if they knew if she had a denture. No one knew if she had a denture, which led me to believe they were neglecting oral care. It took me about 10 minutes to remove the denture, and my heart sank when I found it covered in black mold. Tears rolled down the sweet little lady’s cheeks. I could tell she was embarrassed because of the smell and the deplorable condition of her denture. That was definitely a teachable moment for her caregivers.

Growing Toward the Future Where it All Began


remember spending every hot summer with my grandmother. She was a second mother to me. When she was placed in a long-term care facility as her health declined, it was devastating. I promised her I would always take care of her. Her illnesses required more care than I could provide at home. I visited her daily, so it didn’t take long for me to notice that her dentures were not being removed and cleaned. I had to step in. Eventually, I wasn’t only cleaning my lovely grandmother’s dentures, but I also bought over 30 toothbrushes weekly and began brushing the teeth and dentures of other residents. Sadly, my grandmother passed, but through prayer and faith in God, I was ignited.

My Passion I remember how my grandmother would go from room to room telling the residents I was there to clean their teeth. She was proud of her granddaughter, the dental hygienist. But what I remember most is how full my heart was while I was caring for others in the facility. They had no money to pay me, but I felt paid in full. That’s where my passion was born. Serving others became my gift to life. Every day, before I would go to my dental office, I would head to the nursing home to provide free oral care. And it made me feel AMAZING.

My Purpose It didn’t take me long to realize the importance of educating the staff at the care facility on how to properly provide daily oral care. I started training the staff at all three shifts


Dental Entrepreneur Woman

– morning, afternoon and night. I also developed a comprehensive training manual for all the new hires. That’s when I discovered that my purpose in life was to become the voice of people whose voices have become a whisper. As difficult as my grandmother’s death was, it helped birth my purpose.

My Profession When your passion and purpose meet your profession and you can walk it out in your daily life, you are blessed. I’ve heard people say, “Living your best life,” and that’s how I feel every day. Being a dental hygienist has equipped me with the skills to maintain proper oral care for the aging population. However, I had to be taught how to handle those with special needs, such as dementia and other cognitive disabilities. I studied gerontology, dementia care and oral care for the frail and the elderly patients. It took me many years since the death of my grandmother to develop the Geriatric Toothfairy. The development of the Geriatric Toothfairy became the voice for the residents in long-term care facilities. I now speak and train long-term care facilities and caregivers nationally and internationally. I developed an online training course for staff at long-term care facilities to use for in-services. My husband, Gerald, and I have collaborated with a group of dentists, and we now have a mobile dental company that provides monthly dental care in long-term care facilities. We now bring comprehensive dental care to the residents in the safety and comfort of the nursing facility. This dental service is necessary because it is very difficult for residents to actually go to the dental

We currently operate our mobile dental company in two states. However, Medicaid and Medicare cover very little for residents of long-term care facilities. What we found is some states will pay for residents to get one set of dentures a lifetime, while other states won’t pay for dentures at all. Oftentimes, residents will lose their dentures in the laundry because they place them in their pocket and forget. Some dentures get broken, and other dentures get thrown away on the resident’s food tray, many times placed in a napkin. In most cases, the resident in the long-term care facility cannot afford to pay for a new set. Knowing this, we have set up a non-profit program that supports those residents with new dentures.

success is having the heart to care for others and putting the effort into making a positive change in the life of someone else. About the author: Sonya Dunbar, also known as the Geriatric Toothfairy, is a Registered Dental Hygienist. She has a Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration and over 25 years of dental experience in private practice, skilled nursing facilities, marketing, and academia as an adjunct professor teaching dental hygiene students. Sonya Dunbar/Geriatric Toothfairy Phone: 912-328-7210 Fax: 877-770-3699 E-Mail Address: MDX Website -

We have also launched the S.O.S. Program (Saving Our Seniors - One Smile At A Time) where people can sponsor a senior and give them a package that includes a sixmonth supply of soft toothbrushes, toothpaste, a tongue cleaner and an Accountability Care Card to be placed in their restroom so the staff can check when oral care has been completed.

Being the Voice I feel everyone has a story, and some of the best stories I ever heard were shared with me while I was providing oral care for residents at these facilities. I feel the worst place a story can end is in the grave untold. I wrote a book with 15 short stories and my own personal experience from within the walls of the long-term care facility entitles Golden Nuggets. Some of these stores will make you cry, and some will make you laugh. But either way, it will leave you thinking about life as we age. I believe my grandmother would have been proud of how I help people who cannot help themselves. My definition of

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