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Episode #624: The Difference In Teaching & Presenting A Beautiful Case In Dentistry, With Dr. Christian Coachman And Dr. Bill Robbins

In the second half of this two-part episode, Kirk Behrendt and Dr. Christian Coachman return with Dr. Bill Robbins, one of dentistry’s brilliant teachers, to share what it takes to master the art of teaching and the difference in teaching versus presenting a beautiful dental case. Great teachers aren’t made overnight! To learn the secrets to becoming an effective and inspirational teacher, listen to Episode 624 of The Best Practices Show!

Episode Resources:

Links Mentioned in This Episode:

Register for the Global Diagnosis Education Symposium (September 7-9, 2023)

Read Global Diagnosis by Dr. J. William Robbins and Dr. Jeffrey S. Rouse

Main Takeaways:

Teaching requires a lot of work and effort.

Master the art of storytelling to be a good teacher.

Take photographs of failures — especially your own.

Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you.

Remember that this is the best time, ever, to be a dentist.


“One of my mentors, many years ago, said, ‘Always photograph your failures — especially yours, but any failure — because someday you’ll be able to use them and learn from them.’ It’s very difficult to take photographs the day you fail. If something happens — you break a file, or the patient swallows a crown, something terrible in your practice — it’s hard to make yourself photograph it. But I’ve always done it. And so, I assume I’ve got one of the largest caches of failures of any clinical dentist on earth. When I started this lecture, it started out with only four subjects. Now, it’s up to 21.” (3:37—4:16) -Dr. Robbins

“Being a good teacher, I think it’s got to be done very methodically. It has to be systematic. The lecture has to be created based on an outline. The second really important part is just the opposite, and I think that’s telling a story. I think that’s something I do well. The more you can tell a story when you’re teaching, the more you connect with your audience. I would say those are the two primary areas that I’ve tried to work on through my career as a teacher, and that is being methodical and systematic in the creation of my presentation, but to attempt to tell a story throughout the presentation from beginning to end.” (4:35—5:20) -Dr. Robbins

“Surround yourself with really smart people — people that are smarter than you are.” (6:44—6:49) -Dr. Robbins

“The mistake that we make in dentistry — and we still make it today, for sure. In medicine, our physician colleagues gather data, number one. Number two, they make a diagnosis. Number three, they make a treatment plan. In dentistry, we gather data, and we go straight to the treatment plan. We leave out the diagnosis. In my mind, that is one of the biggest problems in dental education today. That is, we don’t make a diagnosis before we make a treatment plan. And that was the systematic approach that Jeff and I created. That is, you must make a diagnosis. If you have a diagnosis, then there’s only a limited number of ways you can treat each given diagnosis, and then it makes it much more objective. So, I think treatment planning needs to become more objective and less subjective by making a diagnosis before we make a treatment plan.” (9:53—10:51) -Dr. Robbins

“One thing that I realized is that to do the dentistry that we dream of, to do the dentistry that we love, to do the dentistry that we get inspired by from our mentors, first and foremost, we need to inspire our patients to pay for it. We need to convince our patients about it. We need to onboard them on these crazy ideas. Global Diagnosis — if we want people to use it on every first, second diagnosis appointment, we need to show people how to sell this idea, how to make patients fall in love with Global Diagnosis. You need to make your patients fans of Global Diagnosis. You need to make your patients fans of facially generated treatment planning because they need to pay for it.” (14:50—15:45) -Dr. Coachman

“People say that they don’t think about money. This is BS — that they are doing it all for the patient. BS. At the end of the day, people will implement technologies, concepts, and philosophies when they see that the return on investment is happening. And so, we need to master the process of helping people become storytellers about these concepts. How can you tell this story in a non-dental way so people will embrace it? When people start knocking the doors off of your students, ‘I came here because I want Global Diagnosis,’ people will be like, ‘Goddamn it, where’s that book? I need to do this right now, and I need to do it over and over again.’ And then, another patient says, ‘Oh, I only came because of Global Diagnosis. Do you do that? Do you do Global Diagnosis?’ We need to learn with Invisalign. Regardless of if you like it or not, they did it. They made patients love it, and they told a story, and they started to make patients knock at our doors and say, ‘I want to do Invisalign. Do you do Invisalign?’ ‘No, no, no. I do something better.’ ‘Goodbye. Ciao, ciao. I’m going to look for somebody else.’ And then, suddenly, everybody is like, ‘Oh my God, I need to do Invisalign.’ Now, people are doing Invisalign even when you don’t need to do Invisalign. So, we need a company like Invisalign embracing Rick Roblee’s book. Imagine if Invisalign would study Global Diagnosis and say, ‘This is our next mission. We’re going to make the world love Global Diagnosis. We’re going to push this world, and we’re going to make patients understand the value of it, and we’re going to make patients ask for it.’ Then, the magic happens. That’s my opinion.” (15:48—17:41) -Dr. Coachman

“We all are bemoaning the way dentistry is moving in the world, certainly the United States, and that is to the corporate mob. People commonly ask me, ‘Is it going to ultimately be all corporate? Is dentistry eventually going to become all corporate?’ I don’t think so. I do believe there’s always going to be a place at the top. I don’t know if that’s because that’s where I am, and I believe there will be a place for me. But I do say that there’s always going to be a place for this.” (21:37—22:08) -Dr. Robbins

“It’s like being the three-star Michelin restaurant. All these principles that we are talking about are shortcuts for a doctor to be the three-star Michelin restaurant and not be inside corporate dentistry, if that’s not what you want. I don’t think that in the future corporate dentistry will be bad, in the same way that medical hospitals are not necessarily bad. Physicians are not running their hospitals. They are working for hospitals. We are going to be very similar. Dentistry will evolve to that, but you will always have space for the very good private practice delivering high-quality, unique experiences. But you need to learn these principles. You need to differentiate yourself. But the corporate world will learn these principles as well. That’s another path that is going to happen very fast, because the moment that the corporate world understands that this will generate predictability, that this will improve quality in a more consistent way, that this will differentiate themselves, I see corporations already looking at these principles and thinking, ‘Hmm, there’s very smart business there,’ and you’re going to see chains of clinics starting to incorporate this technology, starting to incorporate these principles, of course with the business mindset, but bringing this more mainstream.” (22:17—23:48) -Dr. Coachman

“I always use Ferrari and Fiat. You’re never going to have on Fiat everything that you have on Ferrari. They are the same company, but Fiat handpicks the amazing things that were developed on Formula 1 Ferrari, they dumb it down a little bit, and they choose the things that can be used mainstream that makes the Fiat a better car. Definitely makes it a better car. So, corporate dentistry will start to learn all these things and start to bring things that can be scaled. That will help dentistry get better for the masses, for sure.” (24:20— 24:59) -Dr. Coachman

“This is the most exciting time to be a dentist, ever, on earth. There is no question about it. When I look at my son and what lies ahead for him, there’s certainly a part of me that wants to remain young and viable for as long as I can to share a little bit of this journey that he’s going through at the beginning and I’m going through at the end. But I never — and you know I’m being honest when I say this — I’ve never been more enthused about dentistry than I am today. I’ve got a patient in about 15 minutes. I’m going to get to do an esthetic crown lengthening on this patient. Life is awesome as a dentist, for me. It’s never been better. And so, I don’t know who is listening today. I don’t know if it’s young dentists, or old dentists, or no dentists at all. But the young dentists, you are well-placed in the best profession on earth. There is clearly no other medical profession that compares with what we get to do. This is the best time, ever, to be a dentist.” (25:56—27:06) -Dr. Robbins

“Dentistry is getting even stronger with all this advancement, and more vital, because you cannot substitute that easily what we do. Technology will always support us, but will never, at least for 100 years, be able to do what we do.” (27:33—27:52) -Dr. Coachman

“Young dentists that are still struggling with, ‘Did I choose the right profession? Oh my God, this is tough. Oh my God, right or wrong?’ you made a great decision. If it was a pure strategic decision, you made an amazing decision for your life. Just hang in there. Don’t give up. The future is bright.” (27:56—28:17) -Dr. Coachman


0:00 Introduction.

1:02 Qualities of a great teacher.

5:28 Presenting versus teaching, and the process.

12:25 Why dentists are slow to adopt new concepts and technologies.

17:42 Where we are on the innovation curve with Digital Smile Design.

25:35 Last thoughts.                                           

Dr. Christian Coachman Bio: 

Combining his advanced skills, experience, and technology solutions, Dr. Christian Coachman pioneered the Digital Smile Design methodology and founded Digital Smile Design company (DSD). Since its inception, thousands of dentists worldwide have attended DSD courses and workshops, such as the renowned DSD Residency program.

Dr. Coachman is the developer of worldwide, well-known concepts such as the Digital Smile Design, the Pink Hybrid Implant Restoration, the Digital Planning Center, Emotional Dentistry, Interdisciplinary Treatment Simulation, and Digital Smile Donator.

He regularly consults for dental industry companies, developing products, implementing concepts, and marketing strategies, such as the Facially Driven Digital Orthodontic Workflow developed in collaboration with Invisalign, Align Technology.

He has lectured and published internationally in the fields of esthetic and digital dentistry, dental photography, oral rehabilitation, dental ceramics, implants, and communication strategies and marketing in dentistry.

Dr. Bill Robbins Bio:

Dr. J. William Robbins, D.D.S., M.A., practices part-time and is an Adjunct Clinical Professor in the Department of Comprehensive Dentistry at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio Dental School. He graduated from the University of Tennessee Dental School in 1973. He completed a rotating internship at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Leavenworth, Kansas, and a two-year General Practice Residency at the VA Hospital in San Diego, California.

Dr. Robbins has published over 80 articles, abstracts, and chapters on a wide range of dental subjects and has lectured in the United States, Canada, Mexico, South America, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. He co-authored a textbook, Fundamentals of Operative Dentistry – A Contemporary Approach, which is published by Quintessence, and is in its 4th edition. He recently co-authored a new textbook, Global Diagnosis – A New Vision of Dental Diagnosis and Treatment Planning, which is also published by Quintessence.

Dr. Robbins has won several awards, including the Presidential Teaching Award at the University of Texas Health Science Center, the 2002 Texas Dentist of the Year Award, the 2003 Honorary Thaddeus V. Weclew Fellowship Award from the Academy of General Dentistry, the 2010 Saul Schluger Award given by the Seattle Study Club, the Southwest Academy of Restorative Dentistry 2015 President’s Award, and the 2016 Academy of Operative Dentistry Award of Excellence. He is a diplomate of the American Board of General Dentistry. He is past president of the American Board of General Dentistry, the Academy of Operative Dentistry, the Southwest Academy of Restorative Dentistry, and the American Academy of Restorative Dentistry.

Kirk Behrendt

Kirk Behrendt is a renowned consultant and speaker in the dental industry, known for his expertise in helping dentists create better practices and better lives. With over 30 years of experience in the field, Kirk has dedicated his professional life to optimizing the best systems and practices in dentistry. Kirk has been a featured speaker at every major dental meeting in the United States. His company, ACT Dental, has consistently been ranked as one of the top dental consultants in Dentistry Today's annual rankings for the past 10 years. In addition, ACT Dental was named one of the fastest-growing companies in the United States by Inc Magazine, appearing on their Inc 5000 list. Kirk's motivational skills are widely recognized in the dental industry. Dr. Peter Dawson of The Dawson Academy has referred to Kirk as "THE best motivator I have ever heard." Kirk has also assembled a trusted team of advisor experts who work with dentists to customize individual solutions that meet their unique needs. When he's not motivating dentists and their teams, Kirk enjoys coaching his children's sports teams and spending time with his amazing wife, Sarah, and their four children, Kinzie, Lily, Zoe, and Bo.