Oral Health Group

Dentistry Will Prevail If It Keeps Pivoting

October 2, 2020
by Lisa Philp, RDH, Chief Visionary Officer and Founder of TGNA

Without a doubt, 2020 will go down as one of the most unique “leap years” in history: 28 days in February, 100 days in March, and 500 days in April and May.

In March, the state of emergency was announced and dentistry closed its doors, ceased all elective dental procedures, laid off employees, notified the patients of closure and (if PPE was accessible) practices handled extreme urgencies only. Dentistry was forced to pivot in an unprecedented time with no answers as to how long this would this last.


After the panic and shock subsided, we were all faced with two choices of how to respond.

Choice #1: Retreat to our basement to wallow in self pity, watching the COVID death counter with irritation, fear, worry, and frustration with the complexity of a global pandemic.


Choice #2: Maximize isolation and downtime to turn off the media, reset, relearn, connect virtually, and collaborate with others in dentistry to pivot and prepare to thrive again.

The rebuild pivots begin with adjusting our mindset that dentistry will never be the same as it was prior to COVID-19. The dental professionals stalling because they are waiting and hoping that dentistry will go back to the old way will be waiting a long time and not likely make it to a healthy rebuild.

Rebuilding requires the leader to pivot in order to guide and prepare the team with a practice COVID playbook that standardizes changes. They must be educated on the contactless patient cycle of care and protect the owner from occupational and human resources complaints.

The patient pivot: Gain back their trust and confidence that your dental practice has taken precautions and made noticeable change for their safety. The team communication must be consistent via verbal scripts and electronic communication. All social media and online marketing sources need to be edited. The objective is for 80% of active patients to be back in the hygiene schedule honouring their frequency interval for health, disease or maintenance.

Production pivot: This requires measuring and tracking the top line numbers, while optimizing the dentist with longer appointments of more dentistry per visit to reduce exposure. Engineering the schedule with pre-blocking of each day. The dentist performing aerosol-generated procedures can’t be interupted, which will cause a reduction in number of hygeine exams per day.

Pivot case presentation: Present chairside by the dentist and a clinical team member can handle the financial arrangments. For complex cases, implement virtual video consults with the patient and asses using zoom, visuals and reading of body language virtually.

Pivot collections: Reconsider your financial policy to collect entire fee or at least the co-pay at the time of service. Reevaluate how you handle insurance assignment and consider auto pay chairside upon completion.

In closing, dentistry’s rebuild requires massive and ongoing pivoting to adapt to the unknown future of this pandemic. It’s amazing how far we’ve all come in just a few months. Continued commitment to change and improvement will ensure our success moving forward.

About the Author

Lisa Philp RDH, is the Chief Visionary Officer and founder of TGNA: Transitions Group North America; a full-service coaching company for dentistry. Her career began in clinical hygiene, however she quickly transitioned into a world class coach; creating a periodontal disease management program, in which she coached thousands of dental professionals. Lisa is an industry leader, author, consultant, coach and speaker. Through Lisa’s leadership, TGNA has developed into one of dentistry’s premier full-service practice development companies.

To view more COVID-19 content as it pertains to the dental profession, please click here. 

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