Dr. Gary DeWood once told the story of the 20 (sick) sheep. If one dies, how many are left? Depending upon how or what is heard, the answer often is 25. The accurate answer is 19 live sheep. The moral of the story is communication. What we say and what is heard is often very different.

The key is that we need to create open lines of communication with our team of specialists, laboratory technicians and our staff. We are all very busy in our practices and our personal lives. Communication with our staff is challenging because of time constraints, but because we are in the same location, it's easier to “show and tell” how we want procedures performed, techniques altered or systems adjusted. It becomes much more difficult to maintain communication with our specialists and labs.

That is especially so with trying to make time for office visits for “hands-on” treatment planning or laboratory instructions. A face-to-face meeting can accomplish way more than an email or phone call when talking about procedures like surgical placement of anterior implants or esthetic contours and emergence profiles of fixed prosthetics.

One of the most valuable tools for communication is using a web-based service such as, “Go-To Meeting.” Using this type of service provides the opportunity for up to 16 people (specialists, technicians, etc) to be online at the same time-sharing computer screens and photographs. With the built-in cameras that are incorporated into most laptops and tablets, study models can even be placed in front of the camera to allow for visualization and discussion.

Many of us have specialists distributed throughout our surrounding communities. Sometimes our labs are even farther away. It's almost impossible to schedule face-to-face meetings for discussion and treatment planning. I use Go-To-Meeting often as a way to connect various specialists, communicate laboratory orders and even hold study group meetings across the country.

I rarely have "sick (six) sheep."

Jeffrey T. Bonk DDS, Spear Visiting Faculty. jeffreybonkdds.com