9 dentists share their best advice

Nine dental leaders shared with Becker's their insights about the experiences working in the industry.

Each answered: “What is the greatest piece of advice you've gotten during your career?”

Editor's note: Responses were lightly edited for clarity and length.

Jonathan Greene, DDS. Owner of Greene Dental Group (Norwich, Conn.): People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care. This keeps me humble, honest and focused on the best interests of my patients. It has been a very successful approach. 

Randy Jones, DMD of Lowcountry Dental Associates (Johns Island, S.C.): Never stop learning. When you stop, you might as well retire, because you won’t be doing a just service to your patients. Education is a rabbit hole that you never get to the end of. Products and procedures keep being developed and the race continues. Imagine if you still only knew today what you learned in dental school, how sad that would be. Our responsibility to the public is to give them expert advice as it pertains to our profession. We all should want the same when we are the patient, not the doctor. Keep learning — it certainly keeps the challenge going to be the best you can be.

Barry Lyon, DDS. Dental Director at Dental Care Alliance (Sarasota, Fla.): During my residency program, I was fortunate to be able to moonlight on weekends in the office of an established and ethical general dentist. During my initial interview, we had a very informative question-and-answer session and I left the interview with sage advice. I learned the greatest compliment I could ever receive from a patient was the trust they placed in my ability to help them. The dentist, who became a valued mentor, told me every patient must leave the office in better dental health than when they entered. Further, if I treated every patient like they were a member of my family, that trust would never wane and success would be guaranteed. I’ve held onto that advice through my career as a chairside pediatric dentist and later as a dental director for a large DSO. That advice has been passed on to all the doctors I’ve been fortunate to hire.

David Keller, DDS. Owner of Granite Dental (Vancouver, Wash.): My best piece of advice: Always do what's right for the patient. If you remain focused on doing what's right for the patient, it's hard to get into trouble, emotionally, financially and clinically.

Daniel Benson, DDS. Dental Director of Dr. Benson and Associates (Wyandotte, Mich.): The greatest piece of advice was when I was looking for my first practice: Find a place you want to live, not the best practice.

Phillip Isaacman, DDS. Owner of Bluff City Dental (Memphis, Tenn.): Picking the greatest single piece of advice is tough today. There have been so many great people who have helped me along the way. I truly stand on the shoulders of giants. One I’ll share is that, they can’t start without you! I take that to mean to slow down, to keep a comfortable pace, and to not let outside factors affect our fun and the way we treat patients day to day. 

Gaurav Agarwal, DDS. Valley Pediatric Dentistry (Winchester, Va.): My greatest advice has been to always make sure you do what is best for the patient and get them out of pain/discomfort. If you treat your patients right then your practice will grow regardless.

D. Milton Salzer, DDS. Northbrook (Ill.) Dentistry: Platinum Rule: Treat your patients better than you want to be treated. Find the best specialists you can and learn to work with them. Learn from them and make friends with them.  

Ilya Zak, DDS. Owner of Zak Dental (Los Angeles): My best advice ever came from my immigrant parents: Do well by doing good! Since we came here from Russia in 1977 and started everything from scratch, my father always said "I want to help people as much as possible." This has been the most valuable advice I carried with me throughout my career and my life. 

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