Dr. David Rice: 4 Ways to STOP Wasting Chair Time

When you imagine your perfect dental day, what do you imagine? Is it a day where every patient shows up just a few minutes early with money in hand? A day when every procedure goes smoothly? How about we add in that same day, everyone is smiling… and highly productive?

I love those days!

If you do too and you’d like to have more of them…you’re in the right read. Today, we’re talking four ways to stop wasting chair time. No fuss… no muss… just action items.

1. Systems

In the spirit of we don’t plan to fail, we simply fail to plan, I know you’ve been told one thousand times to start your day with a huddle. Whether you’re actually doing it or not, consider adding the Mini-Huddle.

The Mini-Huddle is:

  • 45 seconds or less
  • It happens one on one, between two team members
  • It delivers all pertinent patient information
  • It allows you to maximize a tremendous psychological principle: “overhear psychology”


Dentist is heading into a hygiene re-care appointment. Before she/he enters, the dentist and hygienist mini-huddle. The hygienist shares all pertinent information.

  • What she/he saw
  • What concerns them
  • Any discussion with the patient (mood, context, etc…)

As the dentist performs the exam, the dentist now asks the hygienist (as the patient overhears), leading questions based off the prior shared information. As the patient overhears this conversation, it not only sounds very familiar, it resonates. They ask questions based on the conversation you and your teammate just had. The result is the highest level of patient co-diagnosis achievable.

Watch the video above to learn more about overhear psychology.

2. Setup

How do your treatment rooms lay out? Are you set up for success? Or are you set up, to get up, every five minutes because you don’t have immediate access to everything you need for your procedures?

I took a trip to A-dec…well I’ve actually taken multiple trips to A-dec, each of which has taught me I didn’t know, what I didn’t know. I didn’t know how to set up my rear delivery unit, so my assistant and I could literally access 100% of what we needed at all times (while staying OSHA friendly). Once I saw it – and learned it – we trimmed 20% off our chair time, per procedure. 20%! Do that math and if you want to learn more on how to ergonomically win, check this out.

3. Supplies

Although we could spend hours on the best ways to stop wasting time with supplies, I want to share two you might not be thinking about.

First, cassettes! And that exclamation point is there for a reason. How many times have you needed an instrument and didn’t have it? How, and I’ll be gentle here… how frustrated are you when you must stop mid-procedure to get it? Run your numbers. Penny wise and pound-foolish reigns in dentistry. Stop wasting chair time, and sterilization time for that matter. Invest once… it will pay dividends for decades.

If you don’t want to waste time on researching, click here. Hu-FriedyGroup has been our industry’s leader for decades!

Second, single tooth anesthesia. Don’t get me wrong, when I’m working on a quadrant at a time I’m giving an IA, AMSA or PSA nerve block. That said, when you and I are working on one to two teeth at a time, we waste time by waiting for blocks to kick in. There are two primary factors we need to do this well:

  1. The right anesthetic
  2. The right location
In this video, Dr. Rice shares his thoughts on how to streamline single-tooth anesthesia.

4. Software

Friends, this is a perfect finish. What we measure gets done. Too often in dentistry we do what feels good rather than what is good for our practices. If you already own Eaglesoft, are you:

  • Scheduling to goals?
  • Tracking your top team performers?
  • Maximizing every tool like the money finder?

Or are you like my practice used to be and only using about 25% of its capabilities? If you are, watch the video below and then get better.

In this video, Dr. Rice shares three things to measure at your practice that you may not have considered.

About the author

David R. Rice, DDS, is the founder of the nation’s largest student and new dentist community, igniteDDS. Dr. Rice travels the world speaking and connecting today’s top young dentists with tomorrow’s most successful dental practices. In addition to igniteDDS, Dr. Rice maintains a team-centered restorative and implant practice in East Amherst, N.Y.

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