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Dental Insight Tips

Dental Practice Insights is a member benefit providing our members with a weekly tip you can immediately incorporate into your practice. If you have a tip to share, email it to Ellen Factor, MDS managing director of membership and dental practice services, for consideration. Dental Practice Insights are emailed on Mondays. Be sure to check your inbox!

Laws and Regulations

Practice Management

Patient Management

Associates Corner

  • The Fine Print: Termination Clauses

    The MDS Dental Practice Committee reminds you that before you sign any contract, you should take the time to understand its termination provision, and ask questions and negotiate—if possible—up front. Some contracts have a 90-day clause, others require you to terminate by a specific date. Failure to send the termination notice at the right time usually means that the contract rolls over to the next time the termination notice is allowed per the contract. Whether it is a contract with a dental supply company, lab, third-party insurer, or utility company, be sure to read the fine print and initiate your termination request in accordance with the defined terms.

Clinical Updates

  • Are You Screening for Oral Cancer?

    April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month and a good time to consider your role in screening for head-and-neck cancers. The Dental Practice and Benefits Committee encourages you to review the oral cancer clinical practice guidelines provided by the ADA Center for Evidence-Based Dentistry to help you best serve your patients.  

    Among the guidelines is the recommendation that clinicians should obtain an updated medical, social, and dental history and perform an intraoral and extraoral conventional visual and tactile examination in all adult patients. The ADA offers a short video demonstrating how to check patients for oral cancer.

Employer Resources

  • Are your employees classified correctly?

    In Massachusetts, most people who work or provide services are considered employees under the law. This means they have rights to minimum wage, overtime, and other protections.

    The Attorney General's Office has contacted the Massachusetts Dental Society because they are concerned that dental staff members are being misclassified by some offices as contractors (1090s) when they should be classified as W2 employees. The Dental Practice and Benefits Committee reminds all dental practice owners that dental office staff (even temporary help) must be classified as employees. This applies regardless of the number of hours or days dental staff members work. Some temporary agencies may be supplying dentists with misleading information. It is the responsibility of the dental practice owner to classify staff appropriately.

    Employers who misclassify employees as independent contractors may face criminal enforcement or civil penalties. Staff members who believe they are misclassified may file a wage complaint with the Attorney General's Office. 

    If you have any questions, contact the Attorney General's Fair Labor Division Hotline at (617) 727-3465.

    Learn More

  • Appreciating Team Members Reaps Many Benefits

    Your morning huddle is a perfect time to show people they are appreciated. Leaders — call out your team members for the amazing things they are doing!

    The MDS Dental Practice and Benefits Committee encourages you to celebrate wins. During your morning huddle, in addition to looking at your goals and numbers, take time to make your team members feel important and recognized. Create an environment where team members feel confident to recognize their peers who helped them the day before. Let everyone know — in front of leadership and your colleagues — how much you appreciate anything that anyone has to say. Your kind words and acknowledgment will go a long way. 

    Appreciation develops an atmosphere of respect, encouragement, and motivation among team members. In 2022, OnePoll, a market research company, conducted a workplace survey where almost half (46%) of the respondents said they had left a job because they felt unappreciated. When asked how their current place of employment could improve, 35% said they’d like recognition from their employers in the form of perks, bonuses, or a recognition program. All things considered, 65% admitted that they would work harder if they felt it would be noticed by management.

  • How to be a Great Boss

    A great boss creates a team environment where employees flourish. The environment welcomes feedback, creativity, and collaboration, and is based on trust and respect. With the shortage of dental hygienists and dental assistants, it is even more important to brush up on your leadership skills to be sure employees are committed to your practice and that you are all on the same page.  

    Thriving dental practices run as a team. They’re often led by generous owners who focus on making sure their dental team has what they need to do their jobs effectively. The MDS Dental Practice Committee encourages you to listen to this ADA podcast on the makings of great bosses to learn characteristics you may want to adopt within your own practice.

  • What You Need to Know Before Terminating an Employee

    As a practice owner, you know that your practice is only as strong as the team you hire to help you provide the best care to your patients. Unfortunately, due to a variety of reasons (e.g., poor performance, fraud, repeated tardiness or absences, or unprofessional behavior), there may come a time when you will need to make the decision to terminate the employment of a staff member. This is never an easy decision to reach, but it’s one you may need to make for the sake of your patients, your staff, and your practice. However, you should be aware of the proper steps to take when terminating an employee so that you don't put yourself or your practice at risk.

    If you are thinking of making the difficult decision to terminate an employee, the MDS Dental Practice and Benefits Committee recommends that you start by reviewing the ADA's Checklist for Terminating an Employee. Also, because of the complexity of state law, it’s recommended that you consult with your attorney or one familiar with employment law.

  • Do You Have to Pay Staff for Holidays?

    The MDS Dental Practice and Benefits Committee recommends that you annually review and distribute your practice's holiday schedule to your employees as some holidays may fall on days that the office is closed. This best practice will help to clarify in advance those holidays that will be observed. You should also clearly communicate to your staff if these are paid holidays and if part-time employees are eligible to receive holiday pay. 
    Massachusetts is one of the few states that requires private employers to give employees holiday leave. Per the Massachusetts Blue Laws, private non-retail businesses are required to observe the following holidays:
    • Labor Day
    • Thanksgiving
    • Christmas
    • Memorial Day 
    • Independence Day

    Note: Employers may choose to observe more holidays at their discretion.

    The choice to pay for holidays is up to the employer, but keeping and retaining staff is critical to the success of your practice so you may want to opt to offer paid holidays to maintain a competitive advantage and limit staff turnover.

Infection Control

  • Don't Wash Your Hands of This Policy

    The MDS Dental Practice Committee recommends that every dental team member start his or her work day with a 15-second handwash with warm water and liquid soap from a hands-free dispenser. Make this infection control practice a routine in your office, as this simple hand-washing routine will substantially reduce the risk of transferring pathogens to your patients or other dental team members.

    Be sure to repeat this 15-second handwash:

    • Between patients
    • Before and after lunch, taking a break, or using the bathroom
    • Before and after gloving
    • Any other time they become contaminated
    • At the end of the work day

    Source: ADA Practical Guide to Effective Infection Control

Insurance and Coding

Practice Tools

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