As I was waiting in line for my overpriced cup of coffee the other morning, I couldn’t help but notice that many holiday items were on sale. Just what someone needs, another deluxe cup to store your designer blend of joe. Not to mention, half of them don’t even fit properly in a cup holder!
How many of you have received a cup or some other trinket that you use for a while and it ends up in some drawer or cabinet and eventually into storage or out the door? I don’t know about you, but I have all the cups I need. Plus, if I need another, I’d like to pick out my own. I hope I’m not offending anyone who has given me a cup over the years, but this is all part of a big point I’m trying to make.
Nothing was more gratifying to me than selling my humble little practice this past year and going through everything and discarding the underused items. So refreshing! It really reminds one of how much time and money we spend on things that don’t really matter.
Life is full of choices and daily decisions. We see flashing lights at home on the microwave and cooktop. (I would say VCR but that would date me.) In fact, did you know that they now sell insurance for your waterline from your home to the street! For a small monthly fee of course. I invite all of you who have had a waterline break in your front yard to email me with the disaster’s details. The point I’m trying to make is that to be successful and accomplish your goals, you need to be consistent and disciplined and stick to your principles, whatever they may be.
From home to the office
Clutter in life easily extends to your practice and can influence your interaction with staff, patients and family. I hope it’s not just me, but how many of you have a drawer, cabinet or, worse yet, an entire room in your office full of items you don’t use? Free cases of brackets or appliances to try, only to retire them to their rightful place or not know where they are when the patient breaks or loses one of them. Archwire forms and shapes that you were convinced were going to change your results for the better, reduce treatment time or make it easier chairside for you and or your staff, that now don’t coordinate properly with your current system.
What about noncompliance devices and other appliances such as Class II corrector intro kits that of course have one size that you usually need and many others that collect dust over the years only to be retired with the lip bumpers and the like.
As the editorial director of a highly respected magazine that is supported by advertisers of these products, I am not for a moment suggesting you not try new things, change your technique or never change. What I am suggesting is that your practice, and life in general, follow some path that only you can chart, and stick to it. Deciding on your path, treatment philosophy and method is up to you. It’s a combination of your training, experience, personal beliefs and, to a large degree, your personality.
I have seen far too many orthodontists and others latch on to a recommended treatment philosophy or management style that doesn’t fit them. Things usually end badly. Worse yet, many times we are encouraged by patients or others to do things out of our comfort, training or experience zone. For instance, you may want to emphasize adult treatment. Many orthodontists are taking special courses to emphasize facial aesthetics, including adding services such as injectables and learning a new process of arranging teeth. After years of ignorance, I have decided to utilize TADs in my practice. (I’ve decided they are not going away!)
My advice to you
If there is one thing that you should do going into the new year, I suggest you start saving copies of Orthotown. As the magazine’s editorial director for the last five years, I’ve written approximately 50 columns. I see how valuable this free resource is for young and seasoned practitioners.
Our content is organized into three distinct areas (marketing, management and mechanics). If you think carefully, everything that happens in an orthodontic practice involves these elements of practice. You get the patients (marketing), you work on the patients (mechanics) and you count the money (management). And, if you simplify your workflow into this system, or adopt one of your own, I trust you will streamline your life and practice.
Some of the finest contributors and leaders in the field have shared valuable information with you this past year and I am personally grateful for their continued contribution! Speaking of treatment, do you have a streamlined way to diagnose and explain things to your staff and patients? I have basically organized my practice around my Treatment by Twelves system.
Treatment by Twelves involves:
Managing the first 12 permanent teeth erupting into the mouth, which may involve interceptive and/or Phase 1 comprehensive treatment.
The next 12 permanent teeth then begin to erupt. During this period many practitioners elect to initiate care in one comprehensive approach.
Lastly, after the 12-year molars erupt, Phase 2 treatment begins, or comprehensive or limited care may begin and end.
It’s that simple!
I encourage all of you to share your treatment protocols, photos and summaries of your favorite patient cases on Orthotown’s message boards. Your experiences, successes and struggles will help your peers improve their own clinical practice, which is a major component of our online community. Happy sharing!