In our experience, the best advice comes from those who have been there and done that. We’ve lived a bit and learned a lot. Our perspective is now colored by the many years of not only being dentists, but also business owners. We now see things with a bit more wisdom — or so we hope!

Dr. Matt VanderMolen

Graduated from the University of Illinois

“To find a mentor who is a proven success in our field. Early in my career, I followed the direction and advice of people who weren’t dentists. They all meant well, but they didn’t have a true sense of what dentists face in real life. Once I found dentists to mentor and coach me, my career took off. Dental professionals working together to do what’s right in order to help other dentists; that’s what Berman Dental Instruments is all about.”

Dr. Jodi Danna

Dr. Jodi Danna

Graduated from Baylor College of Dentistry

“In dental school we purchased instruments that were “chosen” for us. No choice regarding types, style, brand or cost.  After dental school, I continued to use my purchased items. Today, students don’t have to purchase their own instruments. They graduate and have the opportunity to try different options prior to purchasing.  In today’s world, the rising costs of supplies and the desire to lower overhead leaves you more opportunity to research and look for value driven, quality instruments. My advice: do your homework and check out what Berman Dental Instruments has to offer.”

Dr. Lou Berman

Dr. Lou Berman

Graduated from the University of Maryland School of Dentistry

“When I left dental school, I just assumed that the dental instruments I was using were the best, and I should buy them for my private practice. Given what I know now, I would be more cost conscious and do my own evaluations of supplies, materials, and equipment. There are huge savings to be made without sacrificing quality.”

Dr. Pamela Ray

Dr. Pamela Ray

Graduated from UT Health Science Center San Antonio Dental School

“Be a smart consumer when it comes to dental products. Research and don’t over pay for the same product you can find at a better price elsewhere.” 

Dr. John C. Phillips

Graduated from the University of Oklahoma College of Dentistry

“I would tell myself to be aggressive with constantly learning more, especially atraumatic extraction techniques. There is so much to learn! Our patients have a lot of options, especially if we are conservative with their teeth and bone.”

After practicing dentistry for over thirty years in Annapolis, Maryland, I have always felt that dental instruments are way over-inflated in price. For example, through your dental dealer (who takes roughly 40% of the sale price), premium scalers and curettes sell for about $30-$40 each.  At Berman Dental Instruments, we found we can manufacture dental instruments with the same high quality, and sell them directly to you for less than $10. Dental offices are expensive to operate. Some costs inevitably increase and are beyond your control. Aside from increasing production, one of the most effective ways you can increase your profitability is to decrease the amount you spend on supplies. Especially when opening a new office or operatory, dental instruments can be a big expense. Stop paying retail. Purchase instruments directly through our website and save money.

Dr. Lou Berman
Founder
Berman Dental Instruments

ENERGY

In an industry that runs on electric devices, saving energy can be a hard task. You can’t eliminate this use, but you can find ways to help you save with these simple office upgrades:

  1. Air seal your office. This simply means reducing the airflow in and out of your office so that you’re losing less heat to the outdoors in the winter and less cool air to the outdoors during the summer. This is a weekend-long project and can be pricey, but it’ll help your energy bill all year round. Air sealing can also reduce noise, lessen the chance of any allergens or critters getting inside, and lower the chance of any roof dampness during those stormy seasons. Check out tips on how to air seal your office here.
  2. Put devices on a timer. There’s no need to allow devices to eat up energy while they’re not in use. Put them on a timer! This will save you money by eliminating the phantom energy drain. If you want to be even more efficient with your electricity, invest in motion sensors for each room of your office. This way when you’re not using a particular room, you don’t have to worry about turning off the light. After a long day at the office, you don’t want to worry whether or not the bathroom light was left on! And the best part? These timers can be easily installed without a professional, and they aren’t expensive.
  3. Make the switch to LED lighting in your office. LED light bulbs have gone down significantly in price – they’re now typically less than the cost of halogen or incandescent light bulbs! The benefit of LED bulbs is that they use about 90% less energy than halogen or incandescent light bulbs. A standard incandescent bulb uses 60 watts of energy compared to the same lumens (brightness) of the 4-6 watts of energy used from an LED bulb. In addition, the LED bulbs barely emit any heat at all, which means lowering your electric bill by using less wattage bulbs and by using less air conditioning in the summer.

Bonus Tip: Stream your television needs through your internet connection instead of paying for cable. By this, I mean streaming services, which provide television-like services straight into your operatories. Many people have made this switch over the last 10 years. Streaming this service can provide your patients a distraction without breaking the bank.

DENTAL SUPPLIES

You can save big by keeping your dental supply bills to 5% or less of your collections. Here are some tips to help you lower this cost:

  1. Implement a budget of 5% of the prior month’s collections, not production. Always set your monthly collection goal at 100% of all production, net-to-net. The more you collect, the more your percentage of overhead is reduced. If you produce $112,000 a month, but only collect $80,000 and your overhead is $55,000, your percentage of overhead to production is about 69%. That is way too high! If in that same example you collect $110,000 and your overhead remains the same, your percentage of overhead drops to 50% and the money in your pocket goes from $25,000 to $55,000 a month. Simply collect what you produce.
  2. Assign one person in your office to be responsible for all supply orders. You need someone (not you!) to take ownership of this responsibility; if multiple people are ordering it’s harder to keep track of this monthly expense. Consider giving a performance-based bonus to the person who is keeping this expense in check. Keep in mind, a 1% savings on a $1M practice is $10,000 per year! Check out more easy budgeting tips here.
  3. Always shop around for the best pricing. Dental and medical supplies are heavily marked up! We obviously recommend buying instruments from Berman Dental Instruments. This alone will save you over 50%!

And, of course, keep your inventory sufficiently stocked. Never let yourself get into a situation where you could easily run out of necessary supplies. If you don’t have enough instruments, the flow of your day will be held up by the working time of the autoclave. Once again, assign one person with the task of making orders, and be sure to get reports from them on a consistent basis on supply needs.

WATER

‘Swish and spit’ is a common phrase in the dental office. While the need for water is obviously a necessity, there are definitely ways in which you can use less water on a daily basis:

  1. Install faucet aerators. These are perfect for faucets where you do things like wash your hands or brush your teeth, because they reduce the water flow by adding air bubbles into the stream. It doesn’t help if you’re trying to fill a large pot with water, but in a bathroom sink, it can certainly help improve your water efficiency.
  2. Invest in digital imaging in radiography and photography. Most dentists have already made the digital transition with it comes to photography, which saves a ton of time, ink, paper, and money. But what about radiography? The same applies to this aspect of your imaging too, but has enormous ‘green’ benefits when it comes to water. The average film processor for radiography uses up to $66 per month in chemicals, but more importantly – it consumes around 30 gallons of water per hour of use. By investing in digital imagery you’re saving both the environment and your budget.
  3. Use a waterless and variable speed oral evacuation system. Did you know that most wet-ring vacuum systems use between 60,000 and 90,000 gallons of water per year? At the average U.S. cost of sewer and water of .0071 cents per gallon, the annual cost ends up being somewhere between $426 and $639 per year. By adding a water recycler to the vacuum you can reduce the water consumption by approximately two-thirds – all the way down to 20,000 to 30,000 gallons per year. Besides not having to pay for the water, you do not have to pay the sewer fee to process the water either. You can learn more about these evacuation systems – like the Midmark PowerVac G – here.

RENT

There’s no question that the biggest source of overhead in an office, other than staff wages, is office rent. Making these lease payments worse every year is that most annual lease payments increase 1-3% a year. Sometimes this is adjusted annually; sometimes it is increased every 5 years. The benefit of this goes to the landlord, who is hoping to keep up with the comparable and reasonable leases in the area. However, this escalation is often excessive after many years.

So what can you do to make sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck in your office space?

  1. Always negotiate before signing a lease. Whether it’s your first time leasing a space or you’re renewing your lease, remember that you’re the one in control. Most people tend to think that the landlords are the ones with ALL of the power, but it definitely doesn’t have to be that way. Most commercial landlords own multiple properties and aren’t going to care as much about cost as a small business owner does. So, put in the work to level the playing field the same way you would when looking for a house. Look at multiple properties, locations, and price ranges. When you’re armed with all of that information, you can easily make negotiations based on your own research and knowledge of the space you want. Check out more tips on negotiating your lease here.
  1. Be sure to double check your region and square footage options. These are the two biggest factors in your budget range if you’re opening or moving to a new space. Setting up shop in a low cost area can save you up to 20% of your budget. But be completely sure your region is a match with your growth goals. Your future success depends on whether or not this region will attract patients. Are you on a busy street in a reputable neighborhood? Is there direct competition nearby? These are all things to take into consideration for the location that will serve you best. Want to spend a LOT less? Build or lease a smaller office. But make sure that space matches your vision. Can you grow your practice the way you hope to in a small office? Is the cost savings worth it? It may be tempting to lease or build a smaller office at first because of the price tag, but make sure you don’t get stuck in a space where you can’t expand if necessary.
  2. When in doubt, you should always consult with a real estate attorney. Especially before a lease renewal, work with a real estate attorney in the hopes of negotiating a lower lease payment. This could save thousands of dollars annually.

YOUR BIGGEST ADVANTAGE? TEAMWORK

When you’re working as a unit everything in an office will move smoother. And this doesn’t just pertain to handling patients and daily clerical or administrative work. This is a huge asset in keeping track of all of your expenses.

“What I like to do is put my team in charge of different expenses – after setting what those expenses should be in terms of percentage of the total budget. For example, utilities like water and electricity are watched closer if the doctor isn’t the only one watching those expenses. In general, it’s a team effort and when everyone is working together, you’ll have a much better outcome.”

– Dr. Matt VanderMolen

When it comes down to it, budgeting and teamwork should go hand in hand. So, work together with your team to create a budget, review it monthly, and be consistent in how each individual contributes to keeping it in check.

1. Air Dusters Keep It Cold 

As a periodontist, when working on the upper, I have to numb everyone! Patients hate this part of the procedure! To help reduce discomfort, briefly chill a cotton pellet (1-2 seconds) and hold it to the tissue before administrating the anesthetic. This significantly dampens the discomfort level patients experience, as long as the anesthesia is flowed in slowly.

How do you get it cold?

Use a typical air duster we all use on our computer keyboards and other electronics to dust them.

When you spray it in an upright position, you get cold air. When you flip it over and spray it, it becomes a cold liquid.

The key to successfully using this technique is to:

  • Prewarn the patient they will be feeling a very cold sensation on the palate.
  • Saturate the cotton pellet completely.
  • Briefly (1-2 seconds only!) apply to the tissues.
  • Slowly inflitrate the local.

2. Teflon Tape to the Rescue 

Plumber’s Teflon tape is the “duct tape” of dentistry! Some uses:

  • Place in dental implant screw access holes to protect screw heads.
  • Use over adjacent teeth when placing direct veneers instead of nonpliable plastic matrix strips.
  • Place in undercuts when picking up attachments.
  • When restoring the first of two adjacent cavity preparations, place Teflon tape in the second prep to support the matrix while you restore the first one.

3. A Probe to Help Control the Flow 

Use a periodontal probe to spread flowable composite in the base of the composite restoration preps to make sure the cavosurfaces are evenly coated.

4. A Screwdriver’s Crowning Moment 

Small flathead screwdrivers can be safely put through the autoclave. After using a 330 bur to section through the buccal and incisal or occlusal portion of a crown, the small screwdriver head can be placed snugly in the groove created by the 330 and then twisted to break the cement seal and readily remove the crown.

5. Glycerin to Keep Things Slick 

Glycerin can be purchased at a local pharmacy and used as a thin lubricant over a tooth prepared for a crown and the adjacent teeth to ensure temporary crown material won’t lock onto it or stick to adjacent teeth as it sets.

6. The Minnesota Retractor to Prep Molars 

When prepping posterior molars, use the Minnesota Retractor when upper and lower molars are prepped at the same time. Place the retractor in vestibule, and use it as a fulcrum to get a hard luxatemp bite (bisacrylic). The retractor stabilizes the luxatemp, giving you and the lab a very predictable, repeatable bite relationship.

7. Sickle Scalers for Removing Temporaries  

A hygiene sickle scaler is great to use when removing temporaries.

8. Plastic Composite Instruments for Packing and Incising 

Use a plastic composite instrument to pack retraction cords and also to make conservative crestal incisions in the gingiva when placing implants with surgical guides.

9. Endodontic Explorer 

The #16/17 Endodontic Explorer is great for negotiating canal orifices and interproximal caries or resorption. It is also perfect for removing tightly packed cotton pellets from within the pulp chamber.

10. Use a Mirror Handle for Pain Relief 

For a palatal injection, place pressure at greater palatine foramen area with the handle of the mirror during initial moments of injection. It’s a distraction, but it seems to help!

11. Curette for Carrying and Packing 

I use a curette to not only debride an extraction socket, but to carry bone material into sockets and pack it during grafting procedures, as well as to create the perfect pocket between the bone and soft tissue into which I can slip a PTFE membrane to cover the grafted socket.

12. Transport Implant Screws with Ease 

For carrying implant screws to and from the mouth, before you use a driver to pick up an implant screw, dip the tip of the driver into a water-soluble gel, such as KY jelly, and you will be able to carry the screw with a great security to/from the implant. It is difficult to even shake the screw off of the driver!