Retooling an Implant Supported Hybrid Denture 

May 20, 2024 Lee Ann Brady DMD

By Lee Ann Brady, DMD 

A patient chipped a tooth on her lower hybrid denture and loosened an implant screw. The denture had been placed 18 years ago, so she had an old titanium bar with denture teeth and pink acrylic. That day, I put the screw back in and smoothed out where the tooth was chipped. During this visit we had a great conversation about the future of her hybrid denture. 

I have had a similar conversation with several patients in recent months. They have the original, traditional bar retained hybrid denture that is nearing the end of its lifespan. And so, what are the options? 

  1. If the bar is in great shape, new denture teeth and a new denture base can be milled and placed over the existing titanium bar. 
  1. Alternatively, we can get rid of the bar and go to something that is all zirconia. 

If there is a preference for the first option, the first requirement is to make sure the titanium bar is in good condition. After 18 years, we would take it off and have the laboratory examine it under microscopy.  

If converting to all-zirconia and the patient has had upper and lower dentures, we must consider if one arch can be converted without converting the second arch. A zirconia arch is going to wear an opposing original denture fast if there is parafunction, and the zirconia arch is likely to fracture the opposing original prosthetic teeth. 

We have options today we can think about with our patients, but many have in their minds that when they got their hybrid dentures years ago, the dentures would last. All the time, energy, and dollars to freshen up or replace their denture is a big deal to them. Shifting their mindset from “I thought I was done investing in dentistry” to “My denture is at the end of its lifespan” is a big hurdle. So, the earlier we can start those conversations before they need to invest, the easier they can transition their minds to accept care with grace when the time comes. 

When your bar retained hybrid denture patients visit for perio maintenance and your exams, inform them of the lifespan of their denture is at most 20 years and set expectations for discussing the best available options at some point in the future.  

Related Course

Clear Aligner Therapy: Enhance Restorative Outcomes & Patient Health

DATE: May 23 2024 @ 8:00 pm - May 23 2024 @ 9:00 pm

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CE HOURS: 1

Course Description: Review the digital workflow as part of the comprehensive exam and health screening during periodic exams. We will discuss the benefits of clear aligner therapy prior to restorative care.  Also the…

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Lee Ann Brady DMD

Dr. Lee Ann Brady is passionate about dentistry, her family and making a difference. She is a general dentist and owns a practice in Glendale, AZ limited to restorative dentistry. Lee’s passion for dental education began as a CE junkie herself, pursuing lots of advanced continuing education focused on Restorative and Occlusion. In 2005, she became a full time resident faculty member for The Pankey Institute, and was promoted to Clinical Director in 2006. Lee joined Spear Education as Executive VP of Education in the fall of 2008 to teach and coordinate the educational curriculum. In June of 2011, she left Spear Education, founded leeannbrady.com and joined the dental practice she now owns as an associate. Today, she teaches at dental meetings and study clubs both nationally and internationally, continues to write for dental journals and her website, sits on the editorial board of the Journal of Cosmetic Dentistry, Inside Dentistry and DentalTown Magazines and is the Director of Education for The Pankey Institute.

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 Ask Questions About How Your Patient Feels 

May 13, 2024 Paul Henny DDS

Paul Henny DDS

I wrote about this topic last October in The Never-Ending Interview and wanted to revisit it to connect the timeless teachings with my most recent thoughts. Bear with me as I recount some of the history from that previous article. 

Dr. F. Harold Wirth had a very successful restorative practice in downtown New Orleans but he always felt that something was missing until he met Dr. L.D. Pankey and was influenced by his teachings. Dr. Wirth became a missionary for Dr. Pankey’s philosophy of dentistry and life, and he gave Dr. Pankey most of the credit for developing a deeper understanding of people, both physically and emotionally.  

One of Dr. Wirth’s key messages from the podium was that dentists are always presenting the case, even from the beginning of their first encounter with the patient. Another key message was that the patient’s feelings matter in accepting care and the patient interview should be forever ongoing. 

He said, “Every time the patient comes in, you’re doing a presentation. As a matter of fact, I think the interview is forever ongoing. It might only be one word, but every time the patient comes into your office, you should be interviewing them.” 

He said, “Ask questions that have to do with how the person feels. A case history is exploring what happened. An interview is about how they feel! You need to understand the difference!” 

We might ask, “Since I last saw you, have you noticed any changes in your oral health? How do you feel about these changes?” We might ask, “How do you feel about the appearance of your teeth?” or “How do you feel about the restorations we did?” We might ask, “At your last visit, you talked about the possibility of doing ortho; how do you feel about that now?” We might ask, “You mentioned last visit that you weren’t looking forward to Thanksgiving because it was difficult to eat all your favorite foods. Would you feel good about revisiting the possibility of replacing your denture with something more stable?”  

Do you feel better after a long conversation with someone who knows you well on the emotional level? I know I do. Over time, those kinds of conversations cause us to feel more positive and hopeful. They occur when a person gifts us their full attention while making no attempt to judge. And because we experience no judgment, we share more feelings, which leads us into an even deeper level of self-understanding. 

Doctor-patient conversations that tap into how a patient is feeling on an emotional level enable patients to grow in trust and to become more open to the possibilities we offer.  

In her recent blog series, Mary Osborne has encouraged us to journey toward health with our patients as fellow travelers because we all have health issues we hope to resolve. We can make connections over shared feelings and hopes. These connections bond us so we can pursue a mutual, positive goal with our patient.  

What I love and sticks with me from Mary’s blog is that the medical health review during each preclinical interview is an ideal time to check-in about feelings regarding health in general. So, if you and your team are not doing that now, you might want to add a question about the patient’s feelings about their current health. It’s ideal if the doctor or hygienist  asks the question. It may be as simple as “How do you feel about your overall health?” Wait for the patient to think and speak.  

One of my favorite quotes is this: 

Any kind of gesture that pulls another living soul out of despair is indistinguishable from magic. – Michael Xavier, Author 

The medical history review is a prime opportunity to demonstrate we care. Expanding our preclinical interview to routinely ask one or more questions that surface feelings related to health will give us opportunities to touch hearts on a deeper level. This will engender greater trust so patients more readily accept us as partners in their health.  

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DATE: May 23 2024 @ 8:00 pm - May 23 2024 @ 9:00 pm

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Paul Henny DDS

Dr. Paul Henny maintains an esthetically-focused restorative practice in Roanoke, Virginia. Additionally, he has been a national speaker in dentistry, a visiting faculty member of the Pankey Institute, and visiting lecturer at the Jefferson College or Health Sciences. Dr. Henny has been a member of the Roanoke Valley Dental Society, The Academy of General Dentistry, The American College of Oral Implantology, The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, and is a Fellow of the International Congress of Oral Implantology. He is Past President and co-founder of the Robert F. Barkley Dental Study Club.

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Partnering in Health Part 2: There Is No Suffering We Cannot Care About  

May 6, 2024 Mary Osborne RDH

By Mary Osborne, RDH  

Think for a moment: Is there a change you think you could make in your life that would contribute positively to your health? Is there anything you could be doing—or not doing—that could improve your overall health and wellbeing? Most of us can think of something we could do, or do more consistently, to improve our health. Next, ask yourself if the reason you have not made the change you need to make is because you do not have enough information. Our clinical training taught us that if we give people the right information they will change their behaviors. It’s easy to get disappointed in ourselves and our patients when that turns out to not always be true.   

Reflecting on our own past and current health challenges is a way to remind ourselves that health is a journey, not just a set of strategies. What makes perfect sense to us now, may not have been relevant 20 years ago. Often we have heard the relevant information before but were slow to act on it. We may have conflicting priorities, such as time, or money. We may have had fears or doubts. When we can look at our own journey with understanding and compassion we are better able to see our patients that way.   

I remember a patient who came to us with a lot of dentistry that needed to be done. As we talked with her about recommendations for treatment, her eyes welled up with tears. “It’s nothing,” she said when I asked her what the tears were about. Eventually she shared with us that she and her family had been saving up to build a deck on their house. Doing the dentistry she knew she needed would mean they could not build the deck. There was a time when I might have thought, “What’s more important, a deck or your dental health?!?” But I was moved by her struggle. I can’t judge what a deck may mean to her and her family, but I can relate to her sadness in letting go of something they had been saving toward.   

As you advise patients, it’s helpful to share that are you on a path to better health yourself, and that it is not always easy. In this way we can step outside of the role of “expert” and come to our conversations as fellow travelers. And when we do come as fellow travelers, we bring our empathy, our humanity, and we allow ourselves to feel compassion. We are likeable.  

One of my favorite books is Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen’s Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories That Heal. She quotes the psychologist Carl Rogers, who said:  

Before every session, I take a moment to remember my humanity. There is no experience that this man has that I cannot share with him, no fear that I cannot understand, no suffering that I cannot care about, because I too am human. No matter how deep his wound, he does not need to be ashamed in front of me. I too am vulnerable. And because of this, I am enough. Whatever his story, he no longer needs to be alone with it. This is what will allow his healing to begin. 

Because we are on a journey of becoming healthier just like everyone else, we can sit side by side with a patient. We can say, “I get it. It’s not always easy.” We can allow ourselves to feel compassion—that urge to genuinely help someone, and gently invite them to understand they are no longer alone.

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DATE: May 23 2024 @ 8:00 pm - May 23 2024 @ 9:00 pm

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CE HOURS: 1

Course Description: Review the digital workflow as part of the comprehensive exam and health screening during periodic exams. We will discuss the benefits of clear aligner therapy prior to restorative care.  Also the…

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Mary Osborne RDH

Mary is known internationally as a writer and speaker on patient care and communication. Her writing has been acclaimed in respected print and online publications. She is widely known at dental meetings in the U.S., Canada, and Europe as a knowledgeable and dynamic speaker. Her passion for dentistry inspires individuals and groups to bring the best of themselves to their work, and to fully embrace the difference they make in the lives of those they serve.

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Having an In-House Lab Benefits Patients

April 26, 2024 Stephen Malone DMD

Stephen Malone, DMD 

Our Knoxville, Tennessee, dental practice has grown to where we now have four dentists, as well as four hygienists, six dental assistants, two patient coordinators, a practice manager with two front-office patient care specialists, and one more primary partner in our dental practice—Bob Cutshaw. Bob is a master lab technician with over 40 years of experience and owner of Cutshaw Labs. He has been a partner in care with me for nearly 25 years and collaborates with our doctors on all dental restorations requiring lab work. 

Recently, I was thinking again about how grateful I am for my association with Bob and for the many benefits of having his lab located downstairs within our practice facility. Perhaps, having a lab in-house is something other dentists might aspire to eventually have in their own private practice. 

Bob is involved in care planning just as much as I and the other dentists. We can sit side by side to collaborate on treatment using a combination of digital 3D modeling and analog articulated models and wax-ups. 

For patients with complex needs, he routinely comes into the operatory or the consultation room to meet with patients. As he explains his involvement in their care and how the highest quality materials and latest techniques will be used, they become fascinated in the laboratory methods and technologies. Some request a tour of the lab and want to watch some of the process. 

We use digital designs for all prosthetics. Bob’s professional-grade 3D printers work all day long for predictable, efficient fabrication of custom restorations. Then he hand-paints and glazes the crowns and prosthetics for optimal natural aesthetics. Because he is involved in planning our most complex cases that involve implant supported hybrid denture, he is deeply invested in the details that allow the finished product to be delivered with ease. 

Having his lab in-house allows us to rapidly fix issues that arise, for example, alterations to a restoration when it doesn’t quite fit right or has a slightly incorrect shade. Instead of waiting for days or weeks to deliver back and forth a restoration to an outside lab, we make the changes here on the same day. 

For Patients undergoing clear aligner treatment, we manufacture our clear aligners in-house. If a patient loses or damages a tray, it is immediately replaced so the patient doesn’t lose precious time in treatment. The same goes for our occlusal splints, night guards, sports mouth guards, and Essix retainers. 

One of the branding traits of our practice that has earned us our high reputation is the in-house laboratory. Without a doubt, having this lab just downstairs is a major way in which we enhance the quality of care we provide to our patients. 

Related Course

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DATE: May 23 2024 @ 8:00 pm - May 23 2024 @ 9:00 pm

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Course Description: Review the digital workflow as part of the comprehensive exam and health screening during periodic exams. We will discuss the benefits of clear aligner therapy prior to restorative care.  Also the…

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Stephen Malone DMD

Dr. Stephen Malone received his Doctorate of Dental Medicine Degree from the University of Louisville in 1994 and has practiced dentistry in Knoxville for nearly 20 years. He participates in multiple dental study clubs and professional organizations, where he has taken a leadership role. Among the continuing education programs he has attended, The Pankey Institute for Advanced Dental Education is noteworthy. He was the youngest dentist to earn the status of Pankey Scholar at this world-renowned post-doctoral educational institution, and he is now a member of its Visiting Faculty.

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“Provisional” Versus “Temporary” 

April 12, 2024 Kelley Brummett DMD

Kelley Brummett, DMD 

After you do a crown preparation, do you tell your patients that you’re going to make them a temporary or a provisional?  

Provisionals are more than temporary restorations. They are part of a process. They’re the dress rehearsal to the final outcome. They are the prototypes for the final restorations.  

The “provisional” process is an opportunity to gain trust with the patient while modifying the length of teeth, the shape, or the color. It is also a way to communicate with the patient how their functional and parafunctional findings may have contributed to the destruction of their teeth. 

As the patient comes back to have their bite checked and to talk about what they like and don’t like, we are building trust. We’re involving them in understanding what they feel and think. We’re listening to improve their conditions. 

I’ve had patients who were fearful about moving forward with extensive treatment because they couldn’t envision the transition from the prep appointment to the final. What would those temporaries look like? What would they feel like? How would they function?  

So, when I am discussing a case with a patient, provisionals are all part of one treatment fee. We talk about the prep process, the provisional process, the lab process, and the final seating process—all as one process for which there is a fee. We discuss how the provisionals will guide us in optimizing the lab plan to achieve the desired comfort, function, and aesthetics.  

Whether it’s a single tooth or whether it’s multiple, I encourage you to help the patient understand that what you are providing in the interim between a preparation and a seat of a restoration is called a “provisional.” 

A provisional protects the underlying tooth structure. It keeps tissue in place. It helps the patient feel confident. It allows us to understand what might be going on functionally. It helps us communicate better with the lab. It’s more than a temporary restoration. It’s a guide on our journey toward predictable and appreciated relationship-based dentistry. 

Related Course

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DATE: May 23 2024 @ 8:00 pm - May 23 2024 @ 9:00 pm

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Course Description: Review the digital workflow as part of the comprehensive exam and health screening during periodic exams. We will discuss the benefits of clear aligner therapy prior to restorative care.  Also the…

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Kelley Brummett DMD

Dr. Kelley D. Brummett was born and raised in Missouri. She attended the University of Kansas on a full-ride scholarship in springboard diving and received honors for being the Big Eight Diving Champion on the 1 meter springboard in 1988 and in 1992. Dr. Kelley received her BA in communication at the University of Kansas and went on to receive her Bachelor of Science in Nursing. After practicing nursing, Dr Kelley Brummett went on to earn a degree in Dentistry at the Medical College of Georgia. She has continued her education at the Pankey Institute to further her love of learning and her pursuit to provide quality individual care. Dr. Brummett is a Clinical Instructor at Georgia Regents University and is a member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. Dr. Brummett and her husband Darin have two children, Sarah and Sam. They have made Newnan their home for the past 9 years. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, reading and playing with her dogs. Dr. Brummett is an active member of the ADA, GDA, AGDA, and an alumni of the Pankey Institute.

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Are Your Temporaries a Practice Builder or Simply Temporary? 

April 10, 2024 Gary DeWood, DDS

Gary M. DeWood, DDS, MS 

Many dentists believe that provisional restorations don’t really matter. After all, they are not really a stand-in for the final restoration. I would respectfully disagree. I am a proponent of creating functional, durable, and highly esthetic provisional restorations, every time. They have the potential to impact your dental practice a lot more than you might think. Whether you print them, form them, or free-hand them, a GREAT temporary is a great billboard for your practice. 

  1. Make the provisional as Esthetic as the final restoration.

I contend that the more your provisionals look like what you are hoping for when you seat the final restorations, the more people will talk about them, AND you. 

I was able to build a referral restorative practice by creating provisionals that made patients want to come to my practice and specialists want to send people. For much of our career, almost the entire team of the oral surgery office we worked with, and many of the team members from the other specialty practices we worked with, were our patients in Pemberville, Ohio. 

Front teeth or back teeth, when you make them look like teeth, people will like it and they will show and tell other people. “This is just the temporary?!” was not an uncommon question or exclamation from our patients.  

  1. A GREAT guide makes a GREAT provisional restoration.

Your wax-up** cast/model serves as your vision, as your preparation guide fabrication device, and as your provisional former. When the preparation is appropriately reduced for the material selected, the temporary can mimic the restoration. 

** The wax-up might be created with wax then duplicated with impression material and stone to create a cast, or it might be scanned to be duplicated with resin and printed or milled to create a model. 

  1. 3. Use that provisional to highlight the talents of your team members.

You might LOVE to make those provisionals, but if your assistant is equally excited when it comes to recreating nature for the patient to appreciate, then it could be an opportunity for patients to see that your assistant does much more than set-up, clean up, and hand you an instrument. My dental partner, Cheryl, (who is also my wife) and I actively sought out things that could help our patients experience our team as much more than our helpers. 

As we all know, dental assistants are an integral and vital part of what the practice is and are a powerful force in how and why patients ask for dentistry. Assistants who fabricate provisionals have an opportunity to be seen differently, and we were always looking for ways to create partnership with them in our treatment. 

  1. 4. Take pictures of them.

Photographs of the temporary will make it easier for the lab to design the outcome. They will be able to see what you are thinking, able to visualize what you want, AND maybe even more importantly, see what you do not want. With anterior provisionals, I have frequently noted to my ceramist, “Please put the incisal edge in exactly this position vertically and horizontally in the face, then use your artistry to create the tooth that belongs in the face you see in the photographs of the patient before, prepared, and temporized.” 

There were many times when the technician was able to see and create effects that I might have not recognized as being “just the thing that would make these teeth extraordinary.” And don’t forget to show the patient the photograph. 

  1. 5. Love the material you make the temporary with.

The better the provisional material is at holding tooth position and functional contact, the less adjustment we’re going to have, so using a high-quality material is important. There are a lot of them out there. I like bis-acryl materials that polymerize with a hard surface, have little or no oxygen inhibited layer, and can be polished easily. The polish is more about feeling smooth than about the shine. Ask you patients how their provisional tooth “feels” when you are done, so they sing your praises. 

  1. 6. Use high-quality core material.

When you use a good core material the prep will be smoother, making it easier to fabricate nice provisionals. Ideal prep form goes a long way toward better provisionals. 

  1. ASK your patient to tell people.

As noted above, when you can elicit an emotional response about the awesomeness of your provisional, ask the patient to tell other people, “….and this is just the TEMPORARY!” 

Related Course

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DATE: May 23 2024 @ 8:00 pm - May 23 2024 @ 9:00 pm

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Course Description: Review the digital workflow as part of the comprehensive exam and health screening during periodic exams. We will discuss the benefits of clear aligner therapy prior to restorative care.  Also the…

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Gary DeWood, DDS

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The Pre-Clinical Interview – Part 2 

March 11, 2024 Laura Harkin

Laura Harkin, DMD, MAGD 

Let’s delve deeper into the preclinical interview! 

It’s helpful to understand a patient’s perception of their overall health and oral health, as well as what type of restorative dentistry they’re hoping to have and why they feel the way they currently do.  

Sometimes, an integral family member has influenced the timing of care. For instance, you may hear, “My grandchildren are making fun of my teeth” or “My wife asked me to get my teeth fixed.” From this response, I know that I will need to be sure my patient personally desires treatment before rendering it. I’m also anxious to understand what type of restorative dentistry a patient is considering. For example, are they open to removable prosthetics, fixed crown and bridgework, or implantology? 

Recently a new patient came to my office with an emergency. Tooth #5 presented with the buccal wall broken to the gumline and a moderate-sized, retained, amalgam filling. He immediately said, “I do not want bridgework.” I listened quietly until he elaborated by saying, “When I had this front tooth replaced by my other dentist, I had to take it in and out, and I just found that so irritating.”  

I finally understood that he was referring to a flipper but calling it bridgework. So, it’s important to listen and ask questions when someone seems close-minded about having a certain modality of treatment. Delve deeper into the conversation because it may simply be confusion surrounding dental terminology. 

For the grandparents who ask for a better smile, I’d like to understand their thoughts on the scope of treatment and their expectations. Are they looking for a white, straight, Hollywood smile or a more natural appearance with a little bit of play in the lateral incisors? Are they mainly concerned about stains, gaps, or a missing tooth? Are there other problems they’re aware of such as tooth sensitivity, inflamed gums, or the need for a crown? This input is very important as we continue conversation with co-discovery throughout the clinical exam, diagnostic records, and treatment planning phase. 

Learn to count on your chairside for pertinent information. 

I’m fortunate to always have my assistant, Cindy, beside me for preclinical conversations, comprehensive examinations, and restorative procedures. Sometimes, Cindy interprets a patient’s statement or component of conversation differently than me. She may hear a message that I missed or read body language of which I wasn’t aware. Sometimes, auxiliary conversations between patient and assistant take place after I’ve left the room to complete a hygiene check.  

At the end of the day or in the morning huddle, we always take time to discuss interactions with our patients. Together as a team, we’re more efficient at acquiring accurate information so that we may approach the road to health most effectively for each individual. 

Determine if trust is present. 

As I’m getting to know a patient and before I choose to begin restorative treatment, I seek to understand if trust is present in our doctor/patient relationship. New patients often share past dental experiences, and, unfortunately, some have lost trust in dentistry itself. This may be warranted due to improper care, but it may also be due to a lack of understanding or unclarified expectations regarding a given procedure or material choice.  

It’s not unusual, particularly when a patient is considering a large scope of treatment, to serve as a second or third opinion. Building trust and waiting to be asked for our skills are key necessities before moving forward in irreversible therapy.  

The comprehensive examination, periodontal therapy, splint therapy, and gathering of records are all appointments during which opportunities exist to get to know our patients. True trust often takes time to establish, but the reward reaped is frequently one of empathy, friendship, and the ability to do our best work. 

Related Course

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DATE: May 23 2024 @ 8:00 pm - May 23 2024 @ 9:00 pm

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CE HOURS: 1

Course Description: Review the digital workflow as part of the comprehensive exam and health screening during periodic exams. We will discuss the benefits of clear aligner therapy prior to restorative care.  Also the…

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Laura Harkin

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The Pre-Clinical Interview – Part 1 

March 4, 2024 Laura Harkin

The Pre-Clinical Interview – Part 1 

Laura Harkin, DMD, MAGD 

I am a third-generation, restorative dentist in New Holland, Pennsylvania, which may be best known for its blue, New Holland tractors. I own my grandfather’s and father’s dental practice where I am the sole provider for approximately 1,000 patients. My dental team consists of two hygienists, two assistants, and two front office administrators. 

I graduated from dental school in 2008 after short careers both in the actuarial sciences and as a stay-at-home mom. In 2010, I purchased my practice and signed up for my first course at The Pankey Institute. Note, my father also studied at the Institute when it first opened its doors in the early 70’s. One of my greatest challenges, early in my career, was learning how to diagnose oral conditions, develop and present treatment plans, and execute that treatment via phases. I found it quite overwhelming to simultaneously manage multiple, complex cases. Now, I love sharing my experience and the approach I’ve found works best for me. 

Above all, I’ve learned that in the midst of daily pressures in dentistry, we need to maintain our own health and strength to properly treat our patients and lead our teams. Surrounding ourselves with knowledgeable, positive, and compassionate colleagues helps! 

Knowing ourselves is as important as knowing our patient. 

Dr. L. D. Pankey’s Cross of Dentistry supports the belief that knowing oneself is of equal importance to knowing a patient whom we choose to treat. This challenge forever evolves because no person remains unchanged with time. I frequently evaluate my strengths and weaknesses as a provider, team leader, and mentor. At the same time, I ask myself what aspects of patient care and business management I excel at and most love to do. I can then choose my specialist team accordingly and empower my office team to best support me. 

Together we ultimately provide a better product and higher level of care. 

To prepare specifically for the treatment planning process, my team helps me gather key information and clinical records from a patient for a comprehensive evaluation. After a thorough analysis, I carefully craft written documentation which will help educate my patient, my team, and the specialist team I’ve chosen. An added benefit is its ability to serve as legal documentation.  

I always ask a team member to join me during treatment plan presentations. They bring another set of ears and eyes so that we may better understand a patient’s motivating factors as well as the challenges they may face in receiving treatment. We encourage open and honest conversations and understand that treatment plans evolve to fit the needs of individuals. 

How do we get to know our patients? 

In addition to gathering a thorough health history and dental history, we are seeking to learn more about our patient’s chief complaint, perception of their current state of oral health, desires for treatment, and barriers to care. 

We listen intently for clues to identify a patient’s communication style. I’ve always heard that we have two ears and one mouth for a reason. I practiced with my father for two years and once, after observing me, he said, “Laura, you do far too much talking. You need to really listen to what your patients are sharing.”  

I’ve had to develop the skill of active listening. To stay in the question and become comfortable with silence takes practice. Some observations that I try to make in order to effectively communicate and build a relationship with a patient are as follows: 

  • Do they seem to enjoy conversing or are they responding with short answers in order to get through the interview quickly? 
  • Do they readily ask questions and express thoughts, or are they quiet and need to be invited and prompted to share? 
  • Are they amiable? 
  • Are they distrustful or fearful due to past dental experiences? 

We need to intentionally verbalize our empathy when we’re in conversation with a patient to help them recognize that they’re being both heard and understood. 

It is beneficial to understand a patient’s background. For example, what have they done in life? What do they love to do? Who is important in their life? Sharing in these conversations will help build a rapport, lead to improved doctor/patient communication, and can help to begin a trusting relationship. 

Does the patient have limitations such as the ability to drive to appointments, afford dentistry, or find time for treatment? Do they need to discuss their oral health condition and treatment options with a trusted family member before making a decision? 

Understanding these answers helps us to not only provide respectful and resourceful solutions but also limit inaccurate assumptions. This knowledge is especially helpful in my third-generation practice, where I have many elderly patients who are dealing with health issues, multiple medical appointments, and scheduled drivers. Their desire is to simply make a careful decision for an oral rehabilitation which fits their objectives and abilities. 

Do we hear the desire for treatment? When speaking with an existing patient, I can often recognize signs of interest to move forward with previously recommended treatment. At that point in time, I often ask, “Why now?” The answer helps me clarify their chief concern(s) so that we can move forward fittingly. 

In Part 2 of this series, we will explore additional techniques to clarify our patient’s desire for oral health and long-term, oral stability. 

Related Course

Clear Aligner Therapy: Enhance Restorative Outcomes & Patient Health

DATE: May 23 2024 @ 8:00 pm - May 23 2024 @ 9:00 pm

Location: Online

CE HOURS: 1

Course Description: Review the digital workflow as part of the comprehensive exam and health screening during periodic exams. We will discuss the benefits of clear aligner therapy prior to restorative care.  Also the…

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Laura Harkin

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Getting Case Acceptance to 90%

February 26, 2024 Paul Henny DDS

Getting Case Acceptance to 90% 

Paul A. Henny, DDS 

Studies show that the average comprehensive care treatment plan acceptance rate is in the 30% range. Why do you suppose that is? 

Humankind’s Innate Prediction Machine 

Our brain is a prediction machine that’s always turned on. To a large degree, it operates like the autocomplete function on our phone – it’s constantly trying to guess the next word when we listen to a book, read, or conduct a conversation. Contrary to speech recognition AI bots, our brains are constantly making predictions at different levels, from meaning and grammar to specific speech sounds. Our brain continuously compares sensory information with memories. The more negative the memories, the more negative the predictions. 

Additionally, there’s a central purpose behind our prediction machine: Survival, successful reproduction (propagation of our genome), and rewards that might take the form of rising up in the social hierarchy or gaining scarce resources. 

Regarding survival, our brain likes to stack the odds 4:1 in its favor, meaning, it tends to predict negative outcomes 4X more often than it will positive outcomes. This is nature’s way of staying safe so we’ll have the opportunity to live another day. 

Stacking odds in Its favor is very primal, yet the stacking influences many of our impressions and decisions. Complex situations requiring complex decisions must go through this 4:1 negative bias loop. 

A Steep Slope to Climb 

Now, apply this information to how you work with your patients. Unless you enter a relationship with a stellar reputation that has transferred a high level of trust, you are starting off with 4:1 odds against the advancement of your agenda. That’s a steep slope, yet we ignore that truth every day. 

The only way to overcome the 4:1 odds against us is to allow trust to organically develop in the relationship. And that must be achieved in small steps: Simple proposals, agreements, and experiences that meet unspoken expectations.  

Would you agree to hire a contractor to build your dream home after talking with them for only 15 minutes? Wouldn’t you want to see examples of their work and call one or more of their clients to learn how good they are at following through and sticking to their word? 

I thought so but for some reason, we all want to believe that when a person needs extensive oral restoration or rehabilitation, that they will be ready to make a multi-thousand dollar decision within minutes of seeing our amazing digital presentation. In fact, we’re so confident that it will work, that we’ll do our exams for free to create a “sales funnel.” 

The Common Approach Fails 

Most people don’t react well to this approach because it’s too much information-too fast, and it’s all coming from a virtual stranger. They’re not ready to have us build their dream home for obvious reasons. Why, then, do we ignore all of that and call them “tire kickers?” 

The Alternative Approach 

Dentists who deploy the co-discovery, co-diagnosis, and co-success treatment planning process outlined by Dr. Robert F. Barkley often get above 90% case acceptance. I bet you wouldn’t be surprised to know that Pankey Institute faculty are among them. Understanding how the mind works and structuring your new patient processes to beat the 4:1 odd is more than possible. I invite you to read my recently published book: Co-Discovery: Exploring the Legacy of Robert F. Barkley, DDS. The book is available at the Pankey Institute now with all proceeds benefiting the Institute. 

  

Related Course

Clear Aligner Therapy: Enhance Restorative Outcomes & Patient Health

DATE: May 23 2024 @ 8:00 pm - May 23 2024 @ 9:00 pm

Location: Online

CE HOURS: 1

Course Description: Review the digital workflow as part of the comprehensive exam and health screening during periodic exams. We will discuss the benefits of clear aligner therapy prior to restorative care.  Also the…

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Paul Henny DDS

Dr. Paul Henny maintains an esthetically-focused restorative practice in Roanoke, Virginia. Additionally, he has been a national speaker in dentistry, a visiting faculty member of the Pankey Institute, and visiting lecturer at the Jefferson College or Health Sciences. Dr. Henny has been a member of the Roanoke Valley Dental Society, The Academy of General Dentistry, The American College of Oral Implantology, The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, and is a Fellow of the International Congress of Oral Implantology. He is Past President and co-founder of the Robert F. Barkley Dental Study Club.

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Why I Place High Value on Interdisciplinary Treatment Planning

July 8, 2022 Abdi Sameni

Complex dental cases often need support from multiple specialties for a final successful outcome. The approach to work out these cases can be a “multidisciplinary approach” or an “interdisciplinary approach.”

In the case of “multidisciplinary treatment planning,” each of the dental professionals makes their own plan for the treatment they will provide and they seek the help of other disciplines as the need arises. A fairly common example is when a patient finishes orthodontic alignment and then sees a dentist for esthetic restorations.

“Interdisciplinary treatment planning” takes another approach. Treatment is preplanned among the restorative dentist, specialists, and the laboratory team prior to commencement. What is notable in this approach is that you communicate, you collaborate, and you create the plan together as a team. As a restorative dentist, my role is to sit at the center of the specialist, the lab technician, and the patient. In my experience, involving the lab technician from the beginning produces best results and a more efficient process of treatment.

Avishai Sadan — my colleague and the dean at USC, says interdisciplinary treatment planning results in “being able to formulate a custom-tailored treatment plan that addresses patient present and future needs and to execute it to the highest clinical level possible, using state-of-the-art techniques and technologies.” This statement defines for me the best way to do dentistry.

The Benefits of Interdisciplinary Treatment Planning

The foremost benefit is to our restorative patient, whose well-planned dentistry optimally solves current and future needs. Not only are restorative results at the highest clinical level, but we can practice what we enjoy doing most at our highest skill level, while enjoying collaboration with others who are working at their highest skill level. Liability is lower, and we learn from each other.

As a team, we have developed a smooth process of communicating, contributing knowledge, and deciding what will be an optimal course of treatment. We document with photos the procedures each of us performs so we each have complete documentation of the cases we do together.

The others who are on my interdisciplinary team refer patients to me because they are comfortable with the process we have developed and value the quality of the restorative dentistry I do. My practice is distinguishable from dental practices that do not do interdisciplinary treatment planning. Patients who are referred are commonly told about this interdisciplinary planning approach before they arrive. They anticipate a high level of personal attention and a course of treatment that all doctors agree upon. Case acceptance is high when all doctors and the lab team agree on what is best for the patient. Communication and agreement among the providers is so complete, the patient can be optimally informed about what to expect at each stage of treatment.

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The Pankey Assistant’s Experience

DATE: June 12 2025 @ 12:00 pm - June 14 2025 @ 7:00 pm

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Regular Tuition: $ 2050

Single Occupancy Room with Ensuite Bath (Per Night): $ 345

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Abdi Sameni

Dr. Abdi Sameni, Clinical Associate Professor of Dentistry at Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC, is the founder and developer of the “International Restorative Dentistry Symposium, Los Angeles.” He is a former faculty for the “esthetic selective” and the former director of the USC Advanced Esthetic Dentistry Continuum for the portion relating to indirect porcelain veneers. Dr. Sameni lectures nationally and internationally. He is a member of The American College of Dentists, OKU National Dental Honor Society and the Pierre Fauchard Academy. Dr. Sameni maintains a practice limited to restorative dentistry in West Los Angeles, California and the 2020 Pankey Institute webinar he presented on interdisciplinary treatment planning can be viewed here on YouTube.

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