Where to Focus as You Work to Improve Your Dental Team Communication

Apr 17, 2023

“If you take out the team of teamwork, it’s just work. Now who wants that?” Matthew Woodring Stover 1

“Just work…”

If your dental team feels that, imagine what your patients might feel.

Improving teamwork in your practice has a lot of moving pieces. Among them is effective dental team communication.

Broken communication channels between front desk and clinical departments, hygienists or dental assistants and the doctor, and practice and patient have tons to do with your patient experience.

Communication impacts…

  • Scheduling.
  • Patient satisfaction.
  • Team development.
  • Care standards.
  • And more.

Even worse communication breakdowns can result in:

  • Resentment among team members.
  • Consequential treatment errors.
  • A negative culture vibe that’s felt by your patients.

Much rides on the quality of your dental team communication.

“Communication leads to better teamwork, more productivity and increased morale.

A dental practice will grow only if team members believe that they are an integral part of the office’s success, are respected and are valued for their contributions.” 2

With those factors in mind (integration, respect and value), let’s unpack how to create an effective dental team communication environment.

Focus points that can improve dental team communication 

Confirm that your team members are on the same page

Essentially, this is about sharing and executing their daily roles around a common goal or purpose. For example, is there consistent alignment among your team on:

  • Your patient care standards?
  • Your dental practice values?

This often requires routine (if not daily) recalibration.

You can accomplish this through:

  • Setting a positive tone during your morning huddles.
  • Confirming the practical connections between team member roles and your overarching care standards and values.
  • Personally acknowledging team members when they contribute to your practice purpose, goals and values.

Create clear communication channels

The size of your team, your facility layout and your available or chosen technology contributes to improving team communication.

Internal chat and instant messaging systems, in-ear communication devices, and established, routine communication protocols are useful tools.

And relative to communication protocols…

Coach team members to own their individual responsibilities for clear communication

This somewhat supports the notion that “there’s no “I” in team.” Your dental team is a collection of individuals who bring their unique personality and skills to the office each day.

  • Provide onboarding to new team members and those who are drifting from their core functions on the team.
  • Clarify expectations so each department knows what the other needs and requires from them relative to their role and function.
  • Meet departmentally on a regular (calendared) basis to air concerns, set new goal lines and affirm jobs well done.
  • Maximize your morning huddles for role-related acknowledgements and alignment around the day’s schedule.

Construct a trusted environment for honest communication

Think of this as a safe space. Team members who feel safe are more likely to feel the freedom to express their thoughts, ideas and concerns.

A trusted communication environment has great value when dealing with conflict.

  • Evaluate the “message” you send about open team communication. Are you making honest expression safe for team members?
  • Evaluate the quality of communication between your front desk and clinical teams and between your clinical departments such hygiene, dental assistants and doctors. Are you fueling tension or relieving any visible tension?
  • Evaluate the time and place for open communication. Don’t unnecessarily burden your morning huddles with tension. Provide other avenues for having difficult conversations.

Commit for the long haul to improving communication

Relationships and the environment they thrive in require time and patience. And when you’ve achieved acceptable levels of team communication, be diligent to preserve and refine it.

Good communication must be consistently nurtured. Be aware of communication gaps and close them as soon as possible.

The hard work of dental team communication is a work in progress. Treat it as such and your teamwork will improve in noticeable ways.

Analysis is a key factor in dental practice team building. And remember that your available data is more than facts and figures. It provides useful strategies you can use to drive improvement — even around communication.

The following resources can help you get the most value out of your data while making dental team improvements:

Why Cross-Training Your Dental Team Works and How to Get Started

5 Ways to Keep Your Team Improving

Proven data analytics tools are available to assist with your dental practice team communication and more 

The Jarvis Analytics platform helps ensure that you’re tracking the important metrics and staying on track with your goals as your dental practice grows and expands.

Experience Jarvis in action. Request a demo today!


Contact us for more information about data tracking that leads to standout patient care and organizational profitability.


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