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Boosting Dental Practice Efficiency with Comprehensive Checklists

business continuing education dental coach dentistry technology workplace Nov 07, 2023

In the fast-paced world of dentistry, time is of the essence. Every minute counts, and any delay or inefficiency can have a significant impact on the productivity of your practice.

How many times have you found yourself in the middle of a dental procedure, only to realize that a crucial tool or item is missing from your setup tray, forcing your dental assistant to leave the room to retrieve it? This not only disrupts the flow of your work but also wastes precious time. If you've encountered this scenario, it's a clear sign of a breakdown in your procedure setup system.

The solution? Embrace the power of checklists.

Here are a few ways how implementing checklists for various aspects of your dental practice can help you establish consistent, reliable, and accountable systems.

The Checklist Advantage

  • Opening and Closing the Office - Ensure that your practice starts and ends smoothly with well-structured checklists for opening and closing procedures. This helps prevent oversights and creates a seamless transition for your team.
  • Sterilization Process - Maintain a checklist for the sterilization process to guarantee the safety and hygiene of your equipment and instruments.
  • Maintenance Checklists
    • Bur Blocks: Keep track of the maintenance and organization of bur blocks to ensure that all necessary tools are readily available.
    • Handpiece Maintenance: Regularly check and maintain your handpieces to prevent unexpected breakdowns.
    • Autoclave Maintenance: Maintain the autoclave with a structured checklist to guarantee optimal performance.
    • Compressor Maintenance: Create a maintenance schedule for your compressor to avoid any disruptions
  • Procedure-Specific Checklists - Develop checklists for each dental procedure to ensure that all required instruments and materials are ready and accessible.
  • Patient Preparation - Streamline the process of bringing patients into the operatory with checklists covering pre-rinse, bib placement, sunglasses, pre-op X-rays, pre-op photos, pre-op impressions, and any necessary X-rays.
  • Hygiene Protocols - Establish checklists for prophy, perio maintenance, RP/S, and any required testing, examinations, or debriefs in front of the patient.
  • Radiology and Anesthetic - Develop checklists for managing radiology, including the frequency of FMX, BWX, and CBCT, along with guidelines on using the CBCT machine. Additionally, create checklists for anesthetic administration, specifying which procedures it's required for and what options you'll offer to patients.
  • Communication Systems - Ensure smooth communication within your office by implementing checklists for managing headsets, buzzer systems, intraoffice pop-up systems on computers, and maintaining notes on the 12 o'clock unit.
  • Operatory Etiquette - Establish checklists to determine when it's appropriate to interrupt the doctor during procedures and when interruptions should be avoided.

  • Handoffs and Front Desk Procedures - Streamline handoffs from the clinical team to the front office with checklists on how to use routing slips and appropriate verbiage when discussing treatment options in front of patients.

  • Morning Huddles - Make your daily huddles more effective by using checklists to cover what happened yesterday, what's on the agenda for today, and what needs to be addressed tomorrow.

  • Patient Information and Unscheduled Appointments - Keep track of unscheduled treatments, hygiene appointments, family members with unscheduled hygiene appointments, outstanding balances, and emergency time allocations.

  • Optimizing Doctor's Schedule - Use checklists to avoid scheduling conflicts and determine the order of appointments when it's expected for the doctor to be in multiple places simultaneously.

Keep in mind that this list is just the beginning. By incorporating checklists into various aspects of your dental practice, you can significantly enhance efficiency, minimize disruptions, and create a more accountable and reliable system. 

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