How one bad experience can destroy your entire dental practice

By: David Rice

At 53 years of age, I’d like to tell you I’ve grown up. I really would. However, not so much. Sitcoms and stupid movies still win in my world.

That said, what aging has afforded me in addition to the gray hairs is this. There is ALWAYS a great lesson to be learned.

So, totally randomly the other day, the movie, 50 First Dates pops in my brain (another ageism, random thoughts come and then random thoughts go). That said, if you’ve seen the movie, you know 10-second Tom and that’s who pops in my brain.

Link to the scene below if you haven’t seen it or just need a laugh.

10 Second Tom

how one bad experience can ruin your dental practice

Then I thought, wait a second, 10 second Tom has a massive message to offer us. I mean, we all have bad moments, right?

The problem is when one bad moment becomes a bad morning, then a bad morning becomes a bad afternoon. The translation is – multiple bad patient and team experiences occur along the way. We’re a ticking time bomb, just waiting to explode on the next person we see. Worse than that, we feed off it. Somehow being not-so-great when we feel not-so-great is fulfilling.

What usually follows?

We repeat and repeat and repeat, even to the point where we bring it home. We’ve blasted everyone around us at the practice, so why stop there? Why not share some of that love with our family?

It’s okay. I mean, it really isn’t, but admitting it is our first step to getting better. We have all been that guy or gal at some point.

What’s the lesson? What can 10 second Tom teach us?

We need to look at EVERY patient encounter and EVERY teammate encounter with ZERO bias or influence from the last. We need to flush whatever just occurred and treat EVERY person as if he or she is our very first of the day.


Aside from the obvious, have you ever done the research on what it takes to overcome just ONE negative experience? Well, depending on which expert you ask, the number may vary.

That said…upwards of 11.

So imagine your practice has a real jerk call and David Rice answers the phone. Imagine, David then allows that ONE experience to jade the next hour, the morning, and/or the day. Imagine how many patients David negatively influences.

Now, get ready to multiply because David sits next to Lori. And then Lori has a bad morning, afternoon, and day. And Lori eats lunch with Mark. Mark works chairside with Stephanie. Stephanie is besties with Laura. And so on, and so on, and so on.

Pretend this is your practice. How many negative patient experiences are we up to? Multiply that by 11 positives you need to overcome EVERY single negative that happened JUST THAT ONE DAY!

10 second Tom. Get to know him. Get to like him. Emulate him in this example. Until next time, forget the negative and remember…

Together We Rise.

David Rice

David Rice DDS
Founder & Chief igniter igniteDDS

Up Next: How to Run a Successful Dental Practice

Photo by Liza Summer from Pexels

David Rice

David Rice

Founder of the nation’s largest student and new-dentist community, igniteDDS, David R. Rice, DDS, travels the world speaking, writing, and connecting today’s top young dentists with tomorrow’s most successful dental practices. He is the editorial director of DentistryIQ and leads a team-centered restorative and implant practice in East Amherst, New York. With 27 years of practice in the books, Dr. Rice is trained at the Pankey Institute, the Dawson Academy, Spear Education, and most prolifically at the school of hard knocks.