Can I see your head on a plate? - Restoring Excellence

Can I see your head on a plate?


Oct 08
Can I see your head on a plate?

I was once watching one of those ubiquitous cooking competitions, where talented hopefuls are judged by professional chef's.

In one episode, one of the judges remarked that the food was a mess. That the contestants head was a mess. That he could see the contestants head on a plate.

No I do confess that I used to think this was hippie nonsense. We have no time for our internal factors. We just talk about facts and procedures and evidence base.

However, with increasing experience teaching and practicing, I find it to be true.

You can see the state of your head in your work.

If you mind is quiet, calm, and orderly, so will your work be. If your mind is stressed, distracted, rushed, disorderly, so will your work be.

You will see this if you watch someone who is very competent and skilled. They do not look fast. Yet they finish quickly. Their hands are not highly kinetic. There is not a lot of movement. Yet each part of the procedure, is done calmly and correctly, before the dentist moves to the next part. 

There are a few things you can do to get your mind calm and quiet before a complex or stressful procedure. 

1. Breath. Breath slowly. And deeply. Noticing how your breath feels and how far you expand your stomach as you breath. 
2. Visualise. Imagine the procedure from start to finish before you begin. If you cannot, then don't start until you can. 
3. Unwrap. Treat each part of the procedure like it is a box. Open the box. Take the procedure out. Do it perfectly. Put it away. Don't think about it again. If you do, your mind will start hunting backwards and forwards between different parts of the procedure. Nothing else makes your head such a mess.
4. Rest. For long procedures, it is better to rest for a few minutes every so often, than to work with no breaks. As you fatigue, your performance drops off and you become less and less effective. You finish faster if you stop and rest a few times.
5. Reduce distractions. Phone calls can wait. Staff questions can wait. Ordering can wait. The technician can wait. Every distraction saps significant energy in a process called switching cost. This massively reduces your care and compassion.
6. Medicate the patient with some anxiolytics so that they are less anxious. Anxious patient = Anxious you. 
7. Book longer than you need. Time pressure massively messes your head up.

These are not exhaustive ideas. There are many more things you can do.

Just think about the state of your head before you go into a long and complex procedure. 

Is you mind quiet? Is it still? Is it focussed? Is it organised? 

If not, take a bit of time to get that right, before you pick the drill up. It's not about how fast you are. It's about how fast you finish. 

Slow is fast.

Do you agree that the state of your mind is important? 


About the Author

Dr Lincoln Harris has been completely focused on excellence and quality from the beginning of his career as a dentist. He established the first private dental practice in Bargara – Harris Dental Boutique in 2000. Since graduation he has trained extensively in Aesthetic Implant Techniques and Full Mouth Rehabilitation to attain immense skill and knowledge. With his vast dental knowledge Dr Harris coaches and trains dentists from all over the world on complex aesthetic dentistry, surgical techniques and business management. Dr Harris is the founder of RIPE. Restorative Implant Practice Excellence: Full Protocol group an international forum of over 70,000 members worldwide. The purpose of the group is to share information and excellence in the dental industry. He has also lectured in multiple cities throughout Australia, North America, Asia, Singapore, United Kingdom and Europe.