Recent Posts

Repaying and Managing Your Loans

Posted by THE NEXTDDS on Mon, Jul 24, 2017 @ 10:45 AM

graduate_debt.jpgPaying off student loan debt is a long and sometimes complicated experience. The strain of managing this debt can put significant pressure on an individual’s finances and overall well-being. Not only can it influence major life decisions, but it can also put healthy credit at risk if you don’t handle delicately. The increasing student loan debt for dental students in particular makes financial education a high priority. With seemingly so much at stake, how can dental students best repay and manage their student loan debt?

Courtesy of Dr. Janki Patel, a recent THE NEXTDDS virtual training event entitled “Maximizing Your Earning Potential & Paying Down Your Student Loan Debt” discusses topics such as credit health, budgeting, types of debt, and much more. Here THE NEXTDDS presents ways in which you can repay your loans, and Patel’s tips for managing your student loan debt.

Repaying Your Loans

Unpaid debts can come back to haunt you. For example, at a 10% interest rate, a $100 debt grows to $400 in 15 years, $672 in 20 years, $1,083 in 25 years, and $1,700 in 30 years. So, for each $100 you spend on non-essentials, you’re costing yourself between $400-$1,700! Think about that extra frappacino with compounding interest in mind—that $4 increases fast! Start chipping away at your debt right away so you don’t fall to this scenario.

Prioritizing your loans and paying them off as soon as possible will set you up for a successful financial future. If you have good credit, see if you’ll benefit from consolidation (combining your federal loans into one lump sum, with an interest rate averaged out from those loans for a single monthly rate) or refinancing your loan at a lower rate from a private lender. There are several different programs available to you:

Standard – 10-year program where you pay less towards your overall loan amount, since you pay less over time

Graduated – 10-year program where your initial payments are lower at first, but gradually increase every two years

Extended – Payment over more than 10 years (usually 25), but will increase the overall cost of your loan because of the time it takes for your loan to mature

Income-based – A good option for residents or new dentists if you have partial financial hardships, such as a lower income than you could pay for a large debt. Your monthly payments will be calculated based on your income, so the payments will be affordable.

Pay As You Go – Similar to the income-based repayment approach, except your monthly payments are lower. Loan forgiveness programs can come faster under this program, but are stricter when qualifying.

Familiarize yourself with the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDA) for more information on paying off school loan debt. Payments, histories, records, alerts, and other documents are available for your viewing. Missing loan payments will affect your credit history, which can have a negative impact on purchases such as your cell phone plan, homeowners insurance, or renting an apartment. If you ultimately default on your loans, the government can withhold money from you in the future (social security benefits or offsetting your income tax refund). Being on top of your loans is a must.

Managing Your Loans

Contact your loan provider to find out how long your grace period is. This is usually six months after you graduate from dental school, but confirm with your loan provider just how long you have before you’re due to start paying your loans.

If you are unable to obtain employment after that timespan, seek deferments or forbearance in order to postpone your loan without having higher interest accrue. Keep accurate records of lenders, balance, and repayment statuses. If possible, pay more than is minimally required each month, in an effort to lower your principal and reduce future interest payments. Make sure to document everything in writing, as it’ll be easier to return to. If you record your correspondence, you won’t lose out on valuable information that you might have overlooked.


If you are a student who is on the verge of graduation (or have graduated already), you may need to focus on more than just completing degree requirements. The reality of student loan debt means young dentists should take the necessary precautions for managing their debt, while making a plan of attack to repay them in a responsible and appropriate way. Whether they owe $20,000 or $200,000, students should make sure to play it smart when beginning to repay student loans. Click here to listen to the rest of Dr. Patel’s virtual training event.

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How to Differentiate Yourself as an Associate Candidate

Posted by THE NEXTDDS on Thu, Jul 06, 2017 @ 12:45 PM

Identist-with-associate-and-tech.jpgt’s never too early to plan for your future. Whether you’re a first-year dental student who is just getting used to the dental school experience or a fourth year seeking associateship opportunities, looking ahead is a must to ensure your success. Dental school is the stepping stone launching you into the next chapter of your life and your career. Gaining experience during clinic and taking advantage of opportunities at school (through live events, shadowing faculty, and volunteering for outreach programs) will help you on your journey.

Knowing that your potential employer dentist will look at how well you approached your time in dental school, it’s important to take every advantage you can during those four years. Take time and do research on what your dental school has to offer. Are there extracurricular activities available? Any study clubs or groups that might be worthwhile to join? What about programs or organizations that might give you a leg up on other students who will be competing for residency programs, jobs, and other opportunities after graduation?

In a recent THE NEXTDDS webinar entitled “7 Simple Strategies for Successful Associateship,” Dr. Bianca Velayo, (practice owner in Henderson, NV, and Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, ’15) described ways she differentiated herself from classmates by creating a valuable dental school experience.

Be Energetic

Connect with as many people as possible. Between your peers, faculty, and the people you meet at various school events, network and make sure that they remember your name. Keep in mind, your peers will soon become practitioners themselves and may reach out to you or vice versa once you are both in that position. The more you build your reputation while you are in school, the better off you’ll be once you start to seek employment. Every interaction that you have may be the difference between a new job or picking up a valuable hire down the line.

Be Engaged

Get involved in student organizations such as Alpha Omega, the SNDA, HDA, or your local ASDA chapter. You might think it is just student government, but ASDA is a national organization that is affiliated with the ADA. Whether you decide to pursue a position as a vice president, a social chair, or a lunch and learn coordinator, you should make an effort to get involved in your local ASDA chapter. The events presented by these organizations offer more learning and networking opportunities at a national level as you begin to branch out in your career. Attend as many as possible to discover some of your options after school.

Be Authentic

Every case you complete in school will take you one step closer to mastering the clinical skills necessary in dentistry, while also building rapport and learning to communicate with your patients. Therefore, add to your repertoire by going beyond your core curriculum. If you’re a D4 and have completed all these requirements, don’t coast towards graduation. Dr. Velayo recommends that you make sure to do an extra denture or endodontic case, and/or assist more experienced students, such as residents, in other cases when possible. According to Velayo, it builds clinical experience, and provides valuable patient care too. Another way to develop your knowledge is to schedule a shadow day with a local dentist and follow his or her schedule accordingly.

How will you differentiate yourself from the pack? Don’t wait for your final year of dental school in order to make the changes that will open up your future. Your dental school has resources available to further your education and make sure you are on the right path towards being a professional. Leverage these assets and you’ll be better adapted for the post-graduation job search and employment opportunities ahead.


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Tags: associateship, differentiating yourself, associate dentist

3 Reasons Why Dental Caries are Prevalent in Pediatric Patients

Posted by THE NEXTDDS on Wed, Jun 28, 2017 @ 01:00 PM

caries-1.jpgAs reported by the National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research, 42% of children between the ages of 2 and 11 have had dental caries in their primary teeth, with that percentage increasing for multicultural children and those from low income families.1 Many circumstances beyond the child’s control predispose him or her to dental caries. In order to take preventive measures with your adolescent patients, it is important to know what you can do as a practitioner to identify at-risk patients. Just as important, understanding the etiology of dental cases should also be on the mind of every dentist.

With diagnostic technology advancing and preventive measures, such as fluoride, readily available, why do dental caries continue to be prevalent among children? Courtesy of educator and pediatric dentist Dr. Greg Psaltis, here are some reasons why dental caries continue to affect pediatric patients.

The Vulnerable Population

To start, it’s important to focus on how the vulnerable population (e.g., patients of low socioeconomic status) is different from the rest of the population. Children who are at a higher risk for dental caries often have oral health needs that are unmet and untreated.2 Those from minority groups3 or are of special needs4 have an even tougher time obtaining adequate treatment. Without consistent treatment, vulnerable communities have a lack of self-care instructions, have no “dental home,” and no overall oral health education.

Early_Childhood_Caries.jpgWith limited access to care, caries in pediatric patients don’t get properly diagnosed, which continues this trend of neglected treatment. As treatment for dental caries is delayed, the child's condition worsens and becomes more difficult, the cost of treatment increases, and the number of clinicians who can perform the more complicated procedures diminishes.5

Geographic Disparities

There’s a major disparity between the geographic distribution of dentists and where dental care is most needed. While many dental students show interest in practicing in urban and rural areas,6 there is still a lack of dentists presently in these areas. In rural Southern and Midwestern states, for example, patients have to travel far to see a dentist, particularly one that takes Medicaid insurance. The ADA’s Health Policy Institute recently introduced a detailed, interactive map that lays out the geographic access to dental care within each state in the U.S.

To counteract this unfortunate reality, many dental schools, educational grants, and organizations such as dental support organizations look to turn dental students towards the advantages of practicing in these areas, often through loan repayment programs. For many, the idea of being financially supported to work in an underserved community, while also possibly having more production than a more competitive state (e.g. California) is a compelling offer. With more dental schools opening to address these geographical shortages in dentists, students now are more aware of these disparities than ever before.

Federal Insurance Programs

While the number of children under Medicaid and similar insurance coverages has increased over the years, with more children insured now than ever before, it’s not always easy to find providers. Because of the low reimbursements options that are offered to dentists through these coverages, some dentists refuse to see patients that have this insurance. With dental caries rampant amongst pediatric patients and families that are of a low socioeconomic status,2,3 Medicaid is often the only affordable and appropriate coverage for these patients. This stalemate between low-income families and available Medicaid dentists continues to thwart the improvement of children in vulnerable communities.


Dental caries affects millions of pediatric patients. The question lies in how this disease can best be managed in young populations, with a heavier lens on those that have direct barriers to access. Without the combined efforts of both the knowledgeable dentist and the continued improvement to healthcare systems, children in these vulnerable communities and areas will continue to be at a high risk. When these parties come together to overcome these barriers to care, children will be better cared for and better educated on the importance of sustaining their oral health.

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1. Dental Caries (Tooth Decay) in Children (Age 2 to 11). National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Published May 28, 2014. Accessed June 12, 2017.

2. Grant J, Peters A. Children's Dental Health Disparities. The Pew Charitable Trusts. Published February 16, 2016. Accessed June 12, 2017.

3. Swann BJ. Impact of Racial Disparities. Perspectives on the Midlevel Practitioner. Published October 2016. Accessed June 12, 2017.

4. Mitchell JM, Gaskin DJ. Dental Care Use and Access for Special Needs Children. Maternal and Child Health Research Program. Published March 2007. Accessed June 12, 2017.

5. Çolak H, Dülgergil ÇT, Dalli M, Hamidi MM. Early childhood caries update: A review of causes, diagnoses, and treatments. Journal of Natural Science, Biology, and Medicine. 2013;4(1):29-38. doi:10.4103/0976-9668.107257.

6. Sweeney SE, Groves RM. 2016. The changing dental career landscape: The impact of dental school graduates’ pathway into the profession. Mahwah, NJ: Next Media Group. Accessed November 23, 2016. Available at

Tags: children's health, Early Childhood Caries, caries, dental caries, pediatric patients

7 Simple Strategies for a Successful Associateship

Posted by THE NEXTDDS on Tue, Jun 20, 2017 @ 11:30 AM

7-simple-image.jpgComing out of dental school, many graduates seek advice on how to best approach an associateship and the responsibilities that lie within the position. Despite the confidence that comes from getting your degree, there is still a new world in dentistry to explore: working with a mentor, dealing with more patients, and applying yourself to the everyday hustle of a practice. However, there are many ways that you can either improve or learn new skills that will ensure that your associateship is a success. With time, you’ll be on your way to becoming a leader, and potentially be in a position to manage a practice of your own.

Take every advantage you can to become the best associate dentist possible. Courtesy of Dr. Bianca Velayo, a recent THE NEXTDDS webinar entitled “7 Simple Strategies for Successful Associateship” highlights seven ways one can positively impact the practice.

1. Cover Important Topics During the Interview

We’ve previously covered important qualities that practice owners want to see in potential associates, namely being eager and coachable, while remaining humble and ethical about your practice philosophy. We’ve also presented questions you should prepare for in your interview. During your interview, source some important leading questions that give you a better sense of the practice:

  • What type of patients are seen and how is the treatment being presented?
  • How long do associates usually last?
  • What is the compensation?
  • What type of technology are you exposed to?
  • What does the typical day look like?

2. Recognize and Improve Your Interpersonal Skills

Communication is key to many aspects of your associateship: how you interact with patients, how you lead your team, and how you approach mentoring with your supervisors. Communication has several aspects to it: body language, tone, and the choice of words. Better understand how you can approach this important aspect of life. Are you choosing your words wisely and in an appropriate manner?

3. Building Patient Trust & Rapport

Working with your patients on case acceptance and compliance is another ongoing challenge for many less-experienced associates. There are many things one can do to make sure that patients trust you and your diagnosis. Work on educating the patient rather than selling them a treatment, and truly believe in your diagnosis. Respond gracefully to rejection by giving the patient options, your own medical opinion, and leading them to long-term success and production.

4. Be True to Yourself

Keep your priorities in line. What matters the most to you in life and your profession? Know that the associate dentist position has a learning curve. Manage your expectations in accordance to both this position and your own personal career goals. Don’t get too ahead of yourself and take this time to learn. You have to learn how to walk before you can run!

5. Improve Your Time Management

If you feel like you are having difficulty managing your time, go to your employer dentist or another experienced member of the team and ask how he or she manages time. What small changes or workarounds are they doing that you can leverage? Building up your hand speed is also a manner of time management. Track how long it takes you to do a procedure, and continuously chop at that time to set personal bests. As you note this, you’ll be able to easily recognize that you are indeed getting faster over time.

6. Providing Excellent Patient Care

To provide better care for your patients, look into continued education opportunities. Be a sponge that soaks up as much knowledge as you can to translate it into your approach chairside. Sometimes, practices offer such opportunities to staff members who seek continued education. Additionally, begin a mentor relationship with your senior dentists to better shadow their schedule and see how they go about their day. Join associations, study clubs, and other organizations both in and out of school that might help you continue this educational pursuit.

7. Readying for the Transition

As you prepare to leave dental school and find the next chapter awaiting you, grab your future by the reins and take advantage of the last resources available to you as an impending graduate and future alumnus. Network and explore events that allow for recruiting and potential employment opportunities, take a look at your financial profile and how you can best assess your future student loans. As you begin your associateship, continue to build your confidence practicing more dentistry, and you’ll be on the right track.

Overcome the challenges of an associate dentist position by taking a look at these seven steps. What can you improve upon? What have you not considered that may be worthwhile to explore? Build your confidence and skills and you’ll transition perfectly to your next career step. Good luck growing towards career prosperity!

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Tags: associateship, interviewing, interpersonal skills, building trust, building rapport

4 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Making a Big Decision

Posted by THE NEXTDDS on Mon, Jun 12, 2017 @ 10:55 AM

young-person-pondering.jpgDental students face important decisions on a daily basis. Both personally and professionally, your career moves could alter the course of your life for years to come. Therefore, you might be hesitant when faced with any big decision, as you may not know how each will play out down the line. You don’t want to regret your decision and find out that the option you didn’t take was the better path for you.

The truth is, you can never know how a decision will affect you until you make it. The best that you can do when faced with an important decision is ask yourself some questions so that you can properly weigh the situation. Making a mental pros and cons list will help you filter out the decisions that are less advantageous for the more appropriate ones. You don’t want to be impulsive and jump too far ahead before you got a chance to think things over.

Here are questions that you can ask yourself:

What are my options, and what are the pros and cons of each?

What are my post-graduation options? Should I relocate with this new position? As aforementioned, it’s important to weigh each option for what good and bad will come of it. You don’t want to move too fast into making a decision without examining the potential repercussions. In order to get clarity on the situation at hand, sometimes a simple rundown of each option could give you the better answer, albeit sometimes surprising.

What would I tell a friend to do in this situation?

Sometimes you might not realize how hypercritical you are of yourself, and get so wrapped up in the idea of the situation that you overanalyze it. This is why building mentor relationships with your dental peers is so important. Take yourself out of the equation. If the same opportunity presented itself to a classmate or colleague, what would you encourage him or her to do? If you see things as a third party, you might come away with better insight in yourself, and how exactly you would approach the decision.

What’s the worst-case scenario?

Something as simple as analyzing what the worst-case scenario if you decide on one option over the other could help you make a decision without being overwhelmed. Focus on the risk over reward. Is this a risky move? What am I afraid of in this situation? Can I cope with the fallout if I decide to take this leap? Usually, a gut instinct is enough to make a choice, but ask yourself a series of questions about the bottoming out. But remember: it’s not the end of the world.

What would the future look like if I make this decision?

Look ahead a couple of months, or a few years. When you’re split between pursuing an associateship and residency, what does your future look like after picking one choice over the other? You might not know all the answers to these questions of the future, but maybe there are some inevitabilities that will occur based off your decision. Visualizing the future can help make the decision. If you feel good about where you’ll be down the line, it is most likely your best choice.

Take a breath. Our lives are filled with so many big decisions you might not think that you’re taking the time to properly assess them and make an informed choice. You’ll definitely benefit from taking a step back, thinking hard, and asking yourself the above questions. The best thing you can do is not rush too far ahead, and make the choice that feels best for you after an intense overview.

Find more helpful information by enrolling in THE NEXTDDS


Tags: decision making

Dentistry and the Importance of Problem Solving

Posted by THE NEXTDDS on Wed, Jun 07, 2017 @ 01:00 PM

iStock_000055038294_Small.jpgAs a dental student, you already know that becoming a dentist means making critical decisions. With diagnosis and treatment planning, there are many options that are presented for any given patient who finds him or herself in your chair. Being indecisive is no place for a dentist, and both your patients and your future practice team lies their trust in you. The more training and continued education that you receive while in school, the more your confidence grows as the right decisions are made during a young career.

The ability to identify problems and implement solutions is a dentist’s bread and butter. Problem solving can go beyond your patients and find its way into managing your team, running your small business, or any other billing or marketing issues that may arise when you find yourself as a practice owner. In any event, one can use the following breakdown to combat these common challenges.

Identify the Underlying Problem

You can’t solve a problem without first defining the underlying cause. Ask yourself, is this problem a consequence of a larger issue? Focusing on the root cause will make it easier to determine solutions, rather than patching up inconsequential difficulties or other minor inconsistencies. It might take some time, but if you see the complete picture you can more accurately determine a solution from it. Whether it’s inner-office politics or a hiccup in a report, searching for that overarching problem should be your first step.

Have Many Solutions

Once you have identified the problem, don’t rush into the first solution that pops into your head. If you act too soon, you might not be considering the best possible answer. Instead, find alternative solutions—this may open more doors for compromises, and leave everyone involved with a “win-win”. When you have options, you might be able to see which solutions have the least amount of repercussions, and decide from there. Of course, if a problem doesn’t allow for these alternatives, then your first reaction has to be used.


Don’t keep the problem to yourself, or push your preferred solution. Hear out how team members might approach, and discuss how your options will play out in the long-term. Not only will it generate more options for tackling the problem, but talking it over with your staff will help build team trust and leadership. Your staff will certainly appreciate it. Once that’s in place, begin to see how each option will look in full motion, and implement the one that has the greatest gain with the lowest risk.

Implement and Evaluation

When in the implementation process, assess what responsibilities and outcomes will be expected. Does your staff need to know? What are some adjustments that need to be made when the solution is reached? What can you change to prevent this problem from recurring? You’ll find that many “soft skills” will be implemented here as well, and reevaluation should be your last step. How well is your solution working? Does a new plan need to be implemented? Is the problem ultimately solved? If things are not working out, take a step back for reevaluation. Luckily, if you’ve followed these recommendations, you’ll have many options in place, and consider alternatives to finally solve that problem.

Dental students are expected to problem solve almost every day. But have you had the time to think about whether or not your problem-solving skills are effective? Becoming a part of the healthcare profession means being a leader in your chosen field. With maturity, accountability, and a little bit of courage, dental students can find themselves reaching their fullest potential as new leaders. There’s no better time to acquire these problem-solving tools once you prepare to enter a new semester. Start your leadership skills off right!

Find more helpful information by enrolling in THE NEXTDDS

Further reading:

The 4 Most Effective Ways Leaders Solve Problems

Problem Solving Skills

Seven Steps for Effective Problem Solving in the Workplace

How To Solve Problems - Techniques of Problem Solving

Problem Solving

Tags: dentistry, treatment planning, problem solving

Recommendations for Finding and Building a Mentor Relationship

Posted by THE NEXTDDS on Sat, Jun 03, 2017 @ 02:00 PM

mentor-mentee.jpgDental students, including some Student Ambassadors for THE NEXTDDS, often describe the importance of finding and a building a relationship with a mentor. For many students seeking this guidance in their early school career, this is easier said than done. Whether it’s a faculty member, a more experienced student, or even shadowing a practicing dentist, how does one create and breed an organic mentor-mentee relationship? If you’ve expressed interest in starting one of these relationships, learn how to begin the process of finding a relevant coach and advisor.

Courtesy of Dr. Cody Mugleston, a recent THE NEXTDDS virtual training event entitled “3 Proven Ways to Find Mentors & Build Leadership Skills” discusses topics such as the importance of mentorship, how to develop leadership skills, building relationships, and pursuing clinical excellence. In his presentation, Dr. Mugleston outlines several recommendations to finding and building a mentor relationship.

How to Begin the Mentor Process

Beginning the mentor relationship is an organic process. Engage with the potential mentor dentist on treatment philosophies and to discover what he or she is most passionate about. What makes your mentor tick? What does he or she strive to do with dentistry? What’s life like outside of work; how is he or she as a person? Make sure to approach him or her first, don’t wait for a mentor to come to you. You can’t just show signs of being coachable, you have to be the catalyst of the relationship.

While you don’t have to come right out and say that you are seeking a mentor, you can instead work your way into their graces, slowly building up that relationship to a point where you are comfortable enough to begin asking those crucial training questions. You can ask questions in order to get help and questions that dig into the personality of your mentor, learning of his or her pathway into dentistry. Some examples:

To solicit help from the mentor:

  • What would you do if you were me in this situation?
  • What should I look to improve on? What do you see as my strengths?
  • What new skills should I learn?
  • How can I communicate more clearly?
  • Who should I go to when following up or to help move my career forward?

To learn more about the mentor:

  • What is an important leadership lesson you learned?
  • How do you embrace failure/setbacks?
  • How do you approach risk-taking?
  • How do you spend your time both inside and outside of the office?
  • How do you best plan for the future?

Once the relationship has been established, start having conversations that will engage the mentor in your development as professional. Ask your mentor to watch you work, and offer you feedback and constructive criticism. Maybe offer a meeting time outside of work to let you pick his or her brain on certain topics? Build your way into the relationship by trusting one another, establishing an open communication, and being assertive in your goals as a mentee with a similar mindset. Be “all in” on the relationship, don’t shut down recommendations from the mentor just because you are not comfortable or have done the approach before. Be a sponge and soak up as much as you can from your mentor, constantly learning to become a better dentist.


In order to grow as a dentist, dental students should seek the advice and guidance of their peers and more experienced professionals. Not only will it be a good safety net for diagnosis and treatment planning or how to best approach certain aspects of running a practice, but it can also be a rewarding exercise in networking and being able to get ahead on your professional career. Start looking for mentors now and you’ll be better prepared to handle the pressures ahead.

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Tags: mentor, mentorship, questions to ask, mentoring

Associate Dentists: What Traits Do Practice Owners Want in Potential Candidates?

Posted by THE NEXTDDS on Wed, May 24, 2017 @ 01:00 PM

aspen-efficiency.jpgDental students receive the clinical training necessary to become dentists while also developing a philosophy of patient care that will become the framework of their future practices. In this way, becoming an associate dentist after school comes with its own set of challenges once preparing for that big interview with an employer dentist or practice owner. Once graduates find that perfect associateship with a mentor that has a common way of thinking about treating patients, a new question soon emerges. Assuming a candidate and employer dentist have similar philosophies, how can one differentiate him or herself in the eyes of the interviewer?

Courtesy of Dr. Bianca Velayo, this recent THE NEXTDDS webinar entitled “7 Simple Strategies for Successful Associateship” highlights important qualities and character traits that practice owners desire in applicants and future associates in their practices.

Humble But Hungry

According to Dr. Velayo, practice owners want friendly, personable candidates; an associate dentist who can work cooperatively without any problems. Her presentation explained that experienced dentists are usually able to provide further clinical support to their associates, but they can’t teach attitude and how an associate approaches issues. A candidate should be willing to learn about all the facets of the practice, yet still be humble in his or her abilities. Candidates should know that they still have a lot left to learn. Are they driven to become better dentists?

Confident and Passionate

When candidates are asked that age-old interview question, “So, tell me about yourself,” it could be easy to blank on an appropriate or relevant answer. Candidates might even feel that they have so much they want to say, but don’t know where to start. All in all, interviewees should show the passion they have for dentistry. Have they volunteered? Taken advantage of ASDA events to learn more about the profession? Showing passion goes hand-in-hand with showing confidence, and candidates should make it clear that they are ready for the opportunity that an associateship brings them.

Ethical and Coachable

Can the practice owner put the trust in a candidate to handle patients with ease? Candidates might not have extensive experience coming out of school. Showing to the practice owner that one is coachable means being open to criticism and feedback. A candidate can be easily taught to keep up with the hustle of appointments, treatment, and the typical daily workday. Candidates should focus on patient care, not on money, buying power, or any other factors that might distract from important goals in the short-term.


While in dental school, candidates should take advantage of the resources that will help them out as much as possible during the job search. Networking, contributing with peers, and cultivating positive relationships will mean a successful future. Utilizing alumni and a dental school’s career services will also allow young dentists to be more knowledgeable about different options after graduation. To hear Dr. Velayo’s recommendations in their entirety, be sure to click here.

Join 14,000+ Students! Enroll in THE NEXTDDS now

Tags: associateship, personality traits, leadership traits

Importance of Lifelong Education

Posted by THE NEXTDDS on Fri, May 19, 2017 @ 10:15 AM

AD_CE.pngYou are the best and brightest dentist in your town, with freshly minted skills and knowledge. How will you maintain that edge and continue to be the best provider that you can be? Through continuing education (CE). Continuing Education is extremely important to keep dentists of all levels on top of their games, since the field is evolving rapidly with new technologies and digital solutions that improve practice efficiency and patient care. Journals are an important resource, but without a well-developed plan including hands-on courses, classes, and lectures, you may lose that edge.

It is widely held that the body of scientific knowledge in healthcare doubles every six months. The one article that may fundamentally change the way you practice and impact the standard of care may be published the day after you graduate from dental school. You need a well thought out plan that will keep you abreast of changes that occur in the profession. You can quickly learn about new approaches that provide better outcomes, happier patients, and a more efficient workflow for you and your staff. Some products or techniques that you currently rely upon may be found to have significant adverse effects, or a newer generation of those products may be described that can make what you learned from your mentors obsolete. You, your patients, and your staff deserve the latest scientific knowledge available.

The Importance of Compliance

Dentists in all 50 states must acquire and maintain a license to practice. The vast majority of states require license renewal every one to three years, and most of those renewals require a prescribed number of CE hours and credits. Many states have specific guidelines on what types of CE they will or will not accept, such as home study versus group education formats, classes on ethics, courses on domestic violence and child abuse recognition, prescribing, and care of the underserved. If you want to continue practicing, you will have to comply with the rules of licensure in your state. State-by-state regulations vary, and links to information on these regulations can be found here.

But CE is not simply designed to keep you out of trouble. Through CE courses, you have the opportunity to improve your skills and learn the latest clinical techniques from qualified, knowledgeable instructors. Thus, your patients can be offered the latest diagnostic, preventive, and therapeutic methods in the industry. Letting your patients know that you are the first dentist in the area to offer this new approach will help with practice marketing as well, since word of mouth from satisfied patients is a powerful tool. Your reputation in the community will improve as a direct result of your cutting-edge approach to dental care.

Opportunities for Professional Development

Continuing education courses are often designed for the dentist to have fun while learning. Some live courses are offered in vacation destinations, and industry conventions such as the ADA Annual Session, Chicago Dental Society’s Midwinter Meeting, and the Greater New York Dental Meeting now feature live patient demonstrations and exhibitions with vendors with whom dentists can interact. Manufacturers will demonstrate new technologies available to improve the efficiency and results achievable in your practice. Many dentists travel to these conferences with their families, combining education with entertainment. You can also meet and network with other dental professionals, opening new career pathways for you as you begin your new position in the dental industry. In almost all cases, traveling to and attending CE courses is a tax deductible expense for you and your practice. Once you return to work that next Monday morning, you can begin to share your new knowledge and clinical “pearls” with other dentists in your practice, your support staff, and your patients.

Self-Directed Education

The Internet has fundamentally changed the way we gain information—and consume CE. Interactive CE courses abound, many more engaging than a printed journal. Interactive education through online webinars (live or archived), instructional videos, and the like allow you and your professional peers to consume CE at your own pace and convenience. Finding high-quality CE courses that fit your needs, schedule, and finances is easy. The American Dental Association and the American Dental Education Association provide numerous self-study programs that are certified for CE credits, and also list links to live CE courses and CE providers. THE NEXTDDS is a leading provider of educational articles, videos, and
webinars, with multimedia courses available free to dental professionals. Your state’s dental licensing board is also a reliable resource for local and national courses for dentists.


Continuing education is a critical component to your ongoing success in practice. While it is true that it is a requirement for licensure, the reasons to actively plan for and seek CE go far beyond that. CE courses keep you sharp, educated, attractive to patients, and marketable for your next career move. Aspen Dental Management Inc., is a great resource for high-quality education for you in your successful career as a dentist and available to support you throughout the journey. Ask us today how we can help!


Are you a recently graduated D4 student? Check out these related articles:

Dental Practice Insurance that Pays for Itself
Ten Tips for Running a Successful Practice
Partnering for Success

Tags: education, continuing education

Understanding Common Obstacles to Endodontic Therapy

Posted by THE NEXTDDS on Thu, May 04, 2017 @ 11:31 AM

root-canal-obstacles.jpgRoot canal therapy requires the clinician to carefully satisfy a host of requisites through each phase (e.g., access, preparation, disinfection, and obturation, sealing) of treatment. As Dr. Gary Glassman explains in Part 1 of his four-part virtual training series on endodontic therapy, not only does the process require diligent examination, shaping, and disinfection, but no two therapies are the same. This becomes a factor due to the differing anatomy of teeth in patient’s mouths. For some, this may come as a great challenge, working with what is present and tackling it through the necessary precautions and treatment. Dental students and practitioners know that several complications often come into play, including:

Calcifying Root Canals

Sometimes calcium deposits make a canal too narrow for endodontic instruments to reach the apex of the root. If teeth have this calcification, the practitioner may perform endodontic surgery to clean and seal the remainder of the canal.1 Calcified root canals can be caused by a whole host of reasons, such as caries, trauma or infection, drugs, or simply because of the natural aging of the tooth.2

Obstructions and Ledges

Instrument obstruction is another common obstacle to successful endodontic therapy. Because of complications such as calcified root canals, sometimes a practitioner does not have both a good visual and/or physical space to achieve the intended access into the root canal. This leads to the stubborn approach of forcing therapy, which may lead to broken or fractured instruments. However, there are many approaches, such as proper radiography and pre-curved files, that can be used around these obstructions.3 If the practitioner is unsure about access, then alternatives should be the main focus.

Soft or hard tissue blockages can present clinical challenges as well. A ledge is created when the working length can no longer be negotiated and the original pathway of the canal has been lost. Don’t force the instruments by instead using passive step-back and balanced force techniques, instrumenting the canal to its full length to help prevent ledge formation.4

MB2 Canal

Though a real challenge, finding the MB2 canal in endodontic treatment means that you have finally arrived as a clinician. More often than not, the MB2 is identified in maxillary first molars, and being able to clean the root canal system here is of the utmost importance. Patient examination is critical here, with steps that include checking for apical palpations as well as sensitivities to biting, percussions, and on/off swelling. Three-dimensional (3D) imaging provides optimal evidence of the canal location, and provides the practitioner with sufficient information to begin treating the canal. The future of 3D imaging, therefore, looks very bright for endodontic treatment.5

While root canal therapy can often be complex, dental students know that such difficulties are expected. The obstacles and hurdles that are common with the treatment provide a challenge that requires focus, patience, and much, much practice. Endodontic therapy requires diligence and repetition, but can be rewarding as one's skills and experience develop over time. Building one’s skills is key in all aspects of dentistry, but for the endodontic specialty, it’s even more so. If you treat endodontics with the right mindset, you’ll be more confident in performing consistent root canal therapy.


[1] Krasner P, Rankow HJ, Abrams ES. Access opening and canal location. Endodontics Colleagues for Excellence. 2010. Accessed December 27, 2016.

[2] Garg N, Garg A. Cleaning and shaping of the root canal system. In: Textbook of Endodontics. Westminster, London, England: JP Medical Ltd; 2013:277.

[3] Carrotte P. Endodontic problems. Brit Dent J. February 2005:127-133.

[4] Jafarzadeh H, Abbott PV. Ledge formation: Review of a great challenge in endodontics. J Endo 2007;33(10):1155-1162. Accessed December 21, 2016.

[5] Glassman G. Advances in Endodontic Treatment: Part 1--Diagnosis and Treatment Planning. Accessed December 21, 2016.

Tags: root canal, root canal therapy, endodontic therapy, obstacles of root canal therapy

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