Sometimes MORE is More. Be smart with your PPE purchasing.

“Order once a month.”

“Keep one weeks’ worth of the supplies needed for 90% of the dentistry you do.”

“Keep a maximum of six weeks of supplies in resupply.”

Those are my typical lines. Anything more than that is waste. Until the start of 2020, this formula worked. Up until now, supplies were as easy to obtain as sand is to a beach (I’m using this analogy because I am actually sitting on a beach right now). Up until now, personal protection equipment and disinfection products were part of only a sliver of your total supply costs. The formula still works most of the time, but COVID has thrown us a lot of monkey wrenches and one of them hit the PPE supply chain right in the forehead!

Back to the formula.. Think about the procedures done in your dental office 90% of the time. Now, keep one weeks’ worth of the supplies required to do those procedures in your operatories. Order once a month. Keep a maximum of six weeks of inventory in one central location. Take everything out of boxes and place those items in it’s own labeled, clear container. With all the boxes out of the way, you have just opened up enough physical space to buy as much PPE and disinfecting solution as you can afford. And now it’s time to BREAK my rules and stock up! If you can’t get gloves, you’re dead in the water. If you can’t get disinfection products, you’re dead in the water. If you can’t get masks… and so on!!!! So in this one instance (I hope!), i’m going to back off my standard speech about limiting what you buy.

Buy LOTS of PPE. Buy LOTS of DISINFECTING SOLUTIONS. Because they may not be quickly available when you run out.

I’ve walked into a lot of dental practices since Covid and it has been interesting. I’ve seen practices so full of PPE and disinfecting solutions they could fill a basketball court or so little that desperation has set in – conducting a staff meeting on tips and tricks to help clean up business with just one square of toilet paper. (I’m exaggerating but not really.)

I get it – this can be a little painful.

Numbers are skewed. I wonder how many dental practice accountants are looking at your supply costs for 2020 and wondering hmmmm. Profits down? Supplies up? Have they added another line item to your profit and loss statement: “Supplies to fight the crud”? They should! At this point dentists don’t care where it comes from or how much it costs, they need it. Treating patients is how they make money. Without the Standard Precautions set forth by the CDC, you’re in deep trouble.

Are supply companies taking advantage of the situation? Absolutely! You might say to yourself, “What choice do I have?” Well, let me help a little. You can start by maximizing what you have. By maximize, I mean take advantage of every opportunity to “do more with less.”

You need to start thinking about what more you can do while the patient is in the chair. Room turnover is more than just one of the big three clinical department bottlenecks, it has also become a very expensive process. Supply costs are essential but there is an art of reducing waste even where personal protection equipment and disinfecting solutions are concerned. The lowest hanging fruit? Do as MUCH same day treatment as you can!! The patient is in the chair, clinicians are all PPE’d up… using it ONCE is better than having to use it two or three times! Commodities like headrest covers, bibs, barriers and sheets of Cavi-wipe are more precious than ever.

This blog is much more than words on a website. It is full of strategies to make practicing dentistry easier. Just a few tweaks to what you’re doing now, could make all the difference in the world – no matter what kind of operatory configuration you have installed in your dental practice.

I encourage you to reach out with questions about this or any blog topic. Let’s see how you can maximize the efficiency in your dental practice.


Author Angie Bachman