| Shaun Keating CDT + Dr. Don Harris DDS |
Practicing dentistry since 1971, Dr. Don Harris DDS has cared for those who protect our nation. Serving as a dentist in the Air Force during the Vietnam War, he restored many pilot’s teeth. In the Air Force Dr. Harris gained experience in various aspects of dentistry such as extractions, endodontics, and removable/fixed prosthodontics. Don shares the importance of his duties as a dentist during the Vietnam War and the advances made in dentistry that has formed the modern dental world we know today. Currently, Dr. Harris is practicing fixed restorative dentistry in New Iberia, Louisiana and explains how he sells skill, care, and judgment.
Shaun Keating: How’s it going, Dr. Harris?
Dr. Harris: It’s going great, Shaun. We can’t complain. Life is good.
Shaun Keating: Life is good, man. Tabasco Don. I remember that. Way back when I first started working with you, you would talk to me about Tabasco sauce or whatever. Like, “I’m Tabasco Don!” It was so cool.
How did that all come about? Do you know somebody there? You knew somebody or something.
Dr. Harris: Yeah. I have some of the patients who run Tabasco, or work at Tabasco, the Tabasco factory. In New Iberia, we have sugarcane and hot sauce. It’s called the sweetest, hottest, spiciest city in the state.
Shaun Keating: No kidding.
Dr. Harris: Also, the oil industry is real big here. Right now, New Orleans is kind of down. Fortunately, my practice is diversified enough to where it’s not all dependent on the oil field.
Shaun Keating: That’s crazy. I heard that the oil is actually up a little bit, up to like $54 a barrel. That’s kind of good, when it was down to way under 40, or under 50.
Dr. Harris: Right. Well I’m lucky enough, having been in practice for 44 years in New Iberia, that a lot of the oil field people who are in my practice are some baby boomers, people who have done the right things and didn’t do airplanes and jets and condos. They took care of their business. Financially, they okay. They still, at least, come and get the basic stuff done, and preventative dentistry.
Shaun Keating: 44 years, dude. That’s a long time. I was still breastfeeding at that … I was 9 or 10.
I always kid around when I say that.
Dr. Harris: It’s a little hard to wrap my head around that, actually.
Shaun Keating: (laughs)
Dr. Harris: Two years in the Air Force, then four years at dental school. I’ve been fooling with teeth and people for 50 years.
Shaun Keating: Can you believe that?
Dr. Harris: The Air Force only had two bases in Vietnam. I was stateside. I was actually in Georgia. We had B-52’s, we had KC-135 tankers, and also fighter jets at our base.
We tried to take good care of our people flying those planes, to where they didn’t have aerodontalgia, which is a toothache up at altitude.
Shaun Keating: You’re kidding.
Dr. Harris: If anybody you thought might need a root canal, because they had a deep filling or a nerve exposure, the commanding officer said, “Do the root canal.” They don’t want to have to turn one of those planes around.
Have you ever heard of aerodontalgia?
Shaun Keating: Uh-uh (negative). Nada.
Dr. Harris: Divers. We have divers offshore. It’s the changes in pressure. It’s called aerodontalgia, and it’s a real thing. When you get a toothache up in that plane.
We had to look at that a little bit differently than you did in private practice. Where you didn’t have those people flying around.
Anyway, we took care of them the best we could. It was a great two years because I got two years of a rotating internship. You want me to tell you about that?
Shaun Keating: I would love you to tell me about it, buddy.
Dr. Harris: The first nine months, we’d see a patient every hour. We did silver fillings and tooth-colored fillings. Basically, operative dentistry for nine months. You rotate into oral surgery and examination, where you might have … It’s called sickbay. You might have 50 people show up at 8:00, or 50 people at 1:00. You had three or four dentists working in that section.
It was overseen by an oral surgeon, who really helped us a lot as young dentists, which showed us some tricks of the trade that we were able to use in private practice. We did extractions, basically, for four months. Including wisdom teeth.
Then we rotated into endodontics, did root canals for four months.
Then we rotated into removable pros and fixed prosthodontics, where we had our own removable lab in the hospital. Our crowns were sent to Barksdale Air Force Base in Shreveport, Louisiana.
I was stationed in Warner Robins, Georgia. Robins Air Force Base.
Shaun Keating: What were those crowns looking like back then, when you sent them out to the lab?
Dr. Harris: They’ve improved a lot.
Shaun Keating: (laughs)
Dr. Harris: You still had the opaque or the porcelain. It doesn’t look as natural as the KDZ Bruxer or e.max or the Bruxer Aesthetic or the KDZ Ultras with the Noritake porcelain.
Shaun Keating: Look at you, Don. Those are my products, baby! We’re going to have to get you on a commercial. [crosstalk 00:05:45] KDZ Bruxer.
Dr. Harris: My dental assistant has been in the business about 22 years. She’s worked for three or four dentists over that time. She’s just amazed.
She’d been out a couple years. She came back and I’m showing her the newer crowns, the metal-free crowns, next to the PFM crowns. She’s just amazed. Even the KDZ Bruxer. Y’all have improved them so much that the aesthetic is a little bit more aesthetic, of the Bruxer Aesthetic.
The Bruxer itself, it looks like real teeth.
Shaun Keating: It really does. Dr. Kanca just sent me an email. He went on Dentaltown and posted these four lower interiors. 23, 24, 25, and 26. They were Bruxer Aesthetics. It showed the preop, showed it before, and showed them the preps, showed them put in the mouth with cement, then it showed the final. Jesus! It really, really does blend in the oral environment so nicely.
E.max was always kind of my go-to top aesthetic thing for the last several years. I love e.max. But, man, I’m telling you, this Bruxer Aesthetic … And my regular Bruxer, I think, is better and more aesthetic than anything out. But when we came up with this Bruxer Aesthetic, which we’re the only ones that have it, this formula that we’ve had developed for us, it’s just amazing. The aesthetics of it. It’s not layered …
Dr. Harris: The strength!
Shaun Keating: The strength’s unbelievable. Remember all the years we’d get popping and cracking? It’s like, “What the heck?”
PFM’s, man. You got metal that you have to cast, then you got to gas it, then you got to get it down to about 3 or 4/10s, is where you need it. It’s really quite thin.
Certain areas …
Dr. Harris: I don’t want to …
Shaun Keating: Go ahead.
Dr. Harris: I don’t want to jinx myself, but I’ve been doing Bruxers, probably … How long have y’all been doing them?
Shaun Keating: Seven, eight years. Yeah.
Dr. Harris: I have not had one chip in that time.
Shaun Keating: Exactly. My remakes have always been under 5%. Now they’re, like, under 1%.
When we had remakes before, 90% of it was because something popped or cracked. I call it the tin can effect, a little Pepsi can or Coke can, where you flex that. That’s the same thing. When you load up a crown in the mouth and they bite on it, and you have these walls that are 3/10s thick, and then you have this porcelain over it.
If I get a little bit thin, say, when the ceramic’s final sandblasting internally to get some of the glaze off, after it’s been finalized, you might be at 3/10s when you started that casting. By the time it’s been sandblasted two, three times, after opaque, after divesting, after the ceramics are cleaning up the dark oxide on the inside of those PFMs, it can get down to 1 and 2/10s, sometimes. If they’re heavy on the aluminous oxide.
We have 50 pound aluminous oxide. 50 micron … A certain pressure. We have to keep it at a lower pressure. Some guys will turn it up to finish it up quicker.
That thins it out. When those patients bite down and it has a pop effect, and there’s a little crack or there’s a little chip that’ll pop at the margin. Especially, too, when you’re building up, you really should have no more than two millimeters of unsupported porcelain anywhere.
Obviously, on the body of the preps, mesial, distal, buccal lingually, you have to keep it nice and thin. Especially, at the [inaudible 00:09:47] profile at the margin.
Sometimes, at the occlusal table, I got to go chase that mesial marginal ridge, or distal marginal ridge, within two millimeters. I’m building that up. If I don’t get that dialed in perfectly … A lot of guys will dip that coping, and the size of the prep is the size of the coping, then they’ll build up that porcelain.
It’ll be 10 millimeters over here, 7 millimeters of unsupported porcelain. A lot of labs will do it that way.
We didn’t. We have to build them up accordingly for the proper support. Even doing all that, you’re still getting some … The mesial marginal ridge popped off because it was a sharp line angle, or it wasn’t supported enough. PFMs, man. It brought gray hair to my youthful set of hair.
I remember my old boss always saying, “Shaun, I wish we could have a gold restoration that was tooth-colored.” It was a dream, because gold is your strongest, best restoration. It’s just that yellow color. Patients didn’t like it. Stuff like that.
We have come up with the gold-colored restoration in tooth color with our monolithic zirconia. It’s just come so far.
Dr. Harris: You don’t have any allergic problems, like you had with someone of the trillium and different things in the past.
Shaun Keating: Exactly. Certain ladies: indium, iridium, zinc. Then you got nickel and some of the other stuff, the non-precious alloys. It’s not toxic, but with certain people, in that oral environment, it can do things that we don’t really realize.
Dr. Harris: Two comments. One of my mentors said you want to make a crown look like a tooth that grew out of the gums. That’s one thing.
Number two. In talking about branding, to megapascals strength … I was freaking out because, when you all went to Aesthetic, I said, “It might not be as strong as the Bruxer.”
I think the Bruxer is, like, 1,200 megapascals.
Shaun Keating: Yup. I think we’re down to, like, 650 … Go ahead.
Dr. Harris: The Aesthetic, 600 plus.
Shaun Keating: Yeah.
Dr. Harris: Tell them what the PFM is. 150.
Shaun Keating: (laughs)
Dr. Harris: I’m sitting here thinking … I’m worried about Aesthetic breaking. It’s four times stronger than the PFM.
Shaun Keating: The PFM and enamel. You got yield strength, you got tensile strength. You got models of elasticity. There’s a lot of different things.
You teeth are only so strong. Even the PFM is only so strong.
When you’re getting up to 1,000, 1,200, 1,400 megapascals of flexural strength, that’s kind of overkill. Yet, it’s something that it’s piece of mind for a dental lab, and piece of mind for a patient, knowing it’s not going to break.
Dr. Harris: Makes me feel good.
Shaun Keating: Oh, heck yeah. As a lab technician, that is the best thing that ever happened with … The breakage is gone.
We still have had a couple, when we don’t design connectors properly. You need at least three by three millimeters, they say, of connector strength. We needed to go more.
Dr. Harris: You’re talking about multiple units?
Shaun Keating: Yeah. Multiple units.
Dr. Harris: I was talking about as far as individual crowns.
Shaun Keating: Yeah. No, I know. I was saying we hardly get no breakage at all. But we’ve had some breakage on our design of bridges. That’s because you got a wall, is 3/10s or 4/10s, then you have these connectors.
If you don’t get those connectors properly, when they load that up … It’s just basic common sense on engineering of bridge work. You just need to do it properly.
It’s just a trip how strength has gone out the door. We’ve got that. Now it’s aesthetics. It’s like, “Okay. Let’s get the fit right. Let’s get the aesthetics right.” It’s come a long way.
I’m 33 years. In the last 10 years, it’s just amazing, with the aesthetics that we’re getting, and the strength. There’s no more breakage like the old days. But I still got guys doing a ton of PFMs. They’re old school guys. Shoulder bevel type guys. “I need a middle margin on everything.”
Dr. Harris: The other thing is that the margins on these Bruxers are phenomenal. With a PFM, you still got to wax the metal part, don’t you?
Shaun Keating: Yeah. You got to wax that metal part. You got about 3/10s of metal that’s down there at the [inaudible 00:14:44], then you got about 2/10s of opaque that you have to put on. You’re looking at a half a millimeter there. Then you got to bring a dentine of the body of the ceramic down to that margin, which is half a millimeter to a millimeter, to get any kind of depth of color.
You’re talking a millimeter and a half, on most, that is at the [inaudible 00:15:05] aspect. To try to flatten that out to a negative profile, or a flat emerge profile, it’s hard.
You start grinding it in, grinding it in. Next thing you know, you’re almost down to the opaquer. It’s just tough.
That’s why we like the chamfers and shoulders on those PFMs, because then we can kind of back into a butt margin …
Dr. Harris: The margins on the Bruxers and the Ultras are phenomenal. You can’t hardly hang anything.
What I was getting at with the waxing: you have more potential for a little warpage, or something like that.
Visiting y’all’s lab … I hadn’t been in a lab in a long time. Y’all’s lab is phenomenal.
Shaun Keating: I remember you coming out. Like, “Don Harris! Here’s the man!” It was cool to see after all these years.
Yeah, he came down to one of our Over-The-Shoulder programs. Flew in from Louisiana. That was awesome, dude. It was so good to see you.
The doctors do, kind of, really respect and appreciate things from us once they come to the lab and see that it’s not in some guy’s garage, or some small, little thing. It’s pretty advanced technology. We got millions of dollars worth of equipment here. It’s not a cheap thing to do.
Yet, with the right people surrounding you … Most of our technicians are 15, 20 years experience, minimum. We’re counting up everyone’s experience here, and we got over 2,000 years of combined experience and millions of restorations under our belt. It’s kind of a neat thing, especially with the technology coming in and making it easier for us, and more predictable.
It’s really, really neat.
Dr. Harris: The lab was phenomenal. It was nice to talk to some of the technicians. Some of things that Jerry Smith and I are real particular about is the type of contacts and the work with them and what we were looking for. They are doing what we ask them to do.
Shaun Keating: Yeah! You are buds with Jerry Smith. Jerry’s a god, isn’t he? Isn’t that guy just unbelievable? He’d say, “Don! I’m saying this, Shaun! You better get on this!” I’m like, “Yeah. I’ll take care of him, Dr. Smith. Don’t worry.”
That’s cool. He’s such a legend out there in Louisiana, isn’t he? They all kind of know him. That’s for sure.
Dr. Harris: His nephew, Danny Dome, who’s with him, he’s outstanding.
Shaun Keating: He’s crushing it, too. He’s going to be … He is a superstar, already. It’s just neat how, a state like that, they all kind of know each other. It’s kind of smaller. You guys are all big LSU guys.
Sorry about them losing. I thought you guys might have had a chance last week against Alabama, man. I was like, “Bobby Boucher! What’s going on?”
Dr. Harris: That’s right. At least we weren’t embarrassed. We beat the point spread. Alabama is just a juggernaut. They … Amazing.
Shaun Keating: They’re like a pro team, man. It’s just not fair, the way they … Hell. I think even Saban is making, like, $7 million a year. How the heck did he get that much money? $7 million in 12 months! That’s like $800,000 a month.
Dr. Harris: Some LSU fans are not crazy about Saban because he left us, but I give him credit for bringing LSU back to national prominence. In the 90s, we were winning two or three football games a year. Now, we’re in the top 10, top 20, in the nation, generally.
Shaun Keating: Absolutely. I think you dropped down to 24. We’re not really looking at it. It’s too bad.
Couch O, I love the guy. He’s a great recruiter, this and that.
Dr. Harris: He learned a lot from his mistakes in Ole Miss, when he was a head coach at Ole Miss. I think he’ll be all right.
Shaun Keating: Yeah. Get him a few more years under his belt, with the recruiting and everything else.
You know how Alabama is right now. A few years back, it was like LSU was like that. You guys were dominating, just powered through. Real powerhouse.
It kind of goes [inaudible 00:19:48]
Same thing, UCLA was looking real good the last three years. They got five loses this year already.
USC was supposed to be all this. Sam Darnold, that quarterback, is not looking as great as we all thought he was. They got a couple loses to some teams that they shouldn’t have lost to. I think they’re out of the picture, too.
What is it, Wisconsin? Are they, like, number one in the nation or something? Not even Wisconsin. Georgia is, I think. But Wisconsin, they say they can win out and still not even be in the title game or something. That’s kind of messed up. It’s tough.
Dr. Harris: Wisconsin is unbeaten, I think.
Shaun Keating: Yeah. They are.
Dr. Harris: One thing I want to mention: you were talking about the dentistry in Louisiana. In the educational ratings in the nation, Louisiana is 50th. We’re right there with Mississippi, not having a very high rating in education.
Dentistry is something that we can control and change that. We don’t have to be 50th in dentistry.
I went to the Pankey Institute, took all of their curriculum courses, was a teaching assistant down there for a while. I had three kids in college. I had to work a little bit harder.
Shaun Keating: (laughs)
Dr. Harris: It has meant a lot to me, in my practice. Pete Dawson, in St. Petersburg, all of his classes and courses. Tried to track down the best in the country. Dr. Kois out in Seattle, I believe. Guys who are very good in general dentistry have helped me to have the practice that I have now.
Shaun Keating: Pankey, Dawson, and Kois. You can’t get any better than that, really. That’s awesome. Some of our younger guys always ask the doctors, “What do you like or see?” Those guys are really great.
Kois, him and Frank Spear used to be together, but they’re kind of west coasters, and stuff like that. I think, as a dentist, you want to get mentored, you want to get that continuing education, just to get your techniques and talents.
Some guys don’t get it with investing in your future, after going through college and all that cost, and then to shell out more money to really hone your trade. Some get it, some don’t.
I just know. Education, man, is so important in life. On anything that you do, you got to keep on top of the curve, and you got to keep yourself educated on what’s next, and how to improve what you do. I don’t care what job it is. Dentistry, especially.
If you can get in in your young years, like your first 10 years, throw everything you can at yourself, try to learn as much as you can, then get in the trenches. Trial and error, over and over, comes experience.
That’s just awesome, dude. I remember you were teaching at Pankey, I think it was, a little bit …
Dr. Harris: I was teaching assistant. Kind of a go-between the regular instructors and the dentists who were out in practice.
One of the people in the class is a dentist from Maine. He was president of the Maine Dental Society. He was 60 years old. I was, probably, 38, 40 years old at the time. I remember thinking, “Man, that’s really cool that a guy, at 60, is still going to stuff like this.”
It was splint therapy and TMJ issues that we were teaching. They learned how to make splints. I just never forgot that.
I’m 71 now.
Shaun Keating: You’re a puppy. You look better than I do. I swear to God. That’s crazy, dude. That’s awesome. You’re still crushing it. You’re still practicing. Your kids have got to be out of college, right?
Dr. Harris: I got nine grandkids.
Shaun Keating: Good lord! That’s awesome.
Dr. Harris: Three kids and they each have three kids. They all married, gainfully employed. So happy grandpa.
We’re going my granddaughter’s … We’re going to the quarter-finals of volleyball. They were in the state finals the last three years. They didn’t win it, but it’s pretty neat to get that far.
She’s a senior, so this will be her last chance.
Shaun Keating: How’s she doing? Is she going to be able to get a little scholarship, maybe? So the son don’t have to pay for that college education?
Dr. Harris: No. She doesn’t want to play in college, but her grades are good enough. She’ll probably gain some scholarships. She’s very fortunate. My kids and grandkids all healthy. They all doing okay in school.
Shaun Keating: She could come on down to the beaches, here, in Southern Cal and hook up on some of those beach sand games. I’ll tell you: they get after it. You got to know your stuff. How to set and all that. I get tired just watching those guys on the beach do that stuff.
They have two on twos even. That’s a lot of court to cover with just two guys on each side. Pretty good money, pretty big-time stuff out here in Southern Cal, for sure.
That’s a great thing.
They have all the championships going on right now. We have a local Catholic school called Mater Dei. They’re in the championship again, in volleyball. It’s really big out at Huntington Beach High School.
It’s a neat sport. Seeing those girls out there, screaming, and just getting at it, it’s pretty neat. Even the damn serving of those volleyball players … I could never dig one of those serves out. They’re throwing that ball up so high, then they smack it. It’s, like, an inch off the net.
It’s freaking crazy how they play that game, man. It’s pretty neat though.
Dr. Harris: She has a girl on her team. She’s a high school All-American. She’s about 6’1″ and about 170. If you sitting in the stand, they put two courts … They use a basketball court and they put one on each side. The balls are coming at you in the stands.
You better pay attention because you could end up with a concussion.
Shaun Keating: Heck yeah. They’ll knock you out. These girls, man, they’re serving so hard and so fast. It’s just crazy. Unavoidable.
Dr. Harris: Her team is ranked … They’re power rating them at three in the state, in their division. The one and two teams are really good. They’ve been in state championships, too. It’ll be interesting to see what happens.
Shaun Keating: That’s so cool.
Tell me, when you got into dentistry, at what point did you think, “I want to be a dentist”? What was it? Was it in school? In elementary, intermediate, high school?
What made you want to get into dentistry?
Dr. Harris: I was in college. I had to switch from LSU to USL, in LaFayette. I had gone in to get a physical exam with my family physician. He said, “What are you majoring in?” I said, “I’m in pre-pharmacy.”
He says, “You really aught to think about dentistry.” His words were, “It’s the best racket going.”
Shaun Keating: (laughs)
Dr. Harris: He says, “I don’t mean a racket, but you make a good living.”
My dentist, Dr. Miller, was right across the street from McNellie’s office. He said, “Look at Dr. Miller. He’s got the good hours. He lives a good life. He can serve the public and do a lot of things that help people to function and eat better, and that sort of thing.”
That’s when I switched into pre-dentistry.
I applied to LSU, but LSU wasn’t ready to open until the following year. I was in the last class. I got in after three years of pre-dent. I was in the last class of Loyola. Loyola of the South. There’s a Loyola in Chicago, also.
But we had an LSU faculty. It was in a transition. We went to LSU med school for a lot of our classes, including gross anatomy, mild chemistry, and some of those things.
Graduated in 1971. Vietnam was hot. Some people were getting drafted out of their practices. They’d have to try and get rid of a $100,000 note, on some equipment they had bought. It’s only worth something to another dentist.
They’d get $0.50 on the dollar on that $100,000 note. They had to go into service, and they had a note to pay on equipment that they didn’t own anymore.
I told my wife, I said, “I’m not doing that.”
They had a thing called a dream sheet that you fill out, that you want to go in the service, in the Air Force, Navy, Army. I put Air Force as my first choice because they had the newest hospitals.
I ended up getting Air Force. I spent two years in Georgia. It’s a great experience. I probably get 10, 12 years of experience in 2, with all the things we got to do.
We did two or three dentures in dental school. Maybe, three or four. But we did 250 dentures in the Air Force, when I was in the quadrant.
Shaun Keating: No kidding.
Dr. Harris: We did several hundred crowns. Just got a lot of experience.
Shaun Keating: That’s so cool.
Dr. Harris: When I got out of the Air Force, I had a guy that was looking for a partner. He wanted to sell his practice. So I came in with Dr. Carol Bernard in New Iberia, Louisiana.
He never could come up with a definite sale date. I ended up leaving that office and building an office with a guy my age. He went to dental school later than I did.
We built and office together. We had separate practices, but in the same building.
I was there for about 8 years. In 1983, I’d been in New Iberia 10 years, I built my own office. I used Jim Price to build my office.
Shaun Keating: Is that someone special? Is that a guy who worked at Dentsply? Who’s this guy?
Dr. Harris: Jim Pride?
Shaun Keating: Yeah. He got a brother named Charlie?
Dr. Harris: No. He was from San Francisco. Went to the University of San Francisco? He just got into dental design. His time-motion studies, and how to design an office to make it real efficient.
He was actual the design consultant to the American Dental Association, for a while. They build dental offices all over the country. That’s all they did. Their architect and their contractors, that was their specialty: dental offices.
I built this in 1983. I didn’t look back.
At the time, the economy here was really bad. Unemployment was 20%. Interest rates were 20%.
It was the early 80s. The oil field was dead. At that time, I had a lot of oil field patients. We tried to go to some continuing education with some of the time, and improve our skills and some things, in a tough time.
Thought I was losing my mind, to build an office and borrow the amount of money I did. But we did basic dentistry, phase-one dentistry, which is getting rid of the decay and gum disease, and trying to balance the bite out. Not worry about replacing teeth unless they were in the front.
Sometimes you had to do some temporary things that people insisted on. But doing phase dentistry gave these people an opportunity to eventually get optimum dentistry done on them.
I got patients who were with me then, who I’m restoring implants that are usually done by Jerry Smith or Danny Dome. I’ll do the restorative on them. But a lot of those people are doing phase-four, five, and six, I guess at this point, if they have some kind of dental insurance, to try and do a couple crowns a year until they get it done.
They’re able to get it done that way. Otherwise, you’re basically telling them, “I can’t do $15,000 worth of dentistry in two months.”
You can build up those teeth, hold them together. As time goes on, you get those things done. Patients appreciate that, that you’re trying to help them.
We got about 2,000 patients. I tell my patients how many we got. They look at me like I’m crazy. But we got a lot of patients. A lot of them have all their teeth. That was the goal: to have them end up with teeth, not end up with dentures or partial dentures, if we could avoid it.
Shaun Keating: That’s awesome, dude. How many ops do you got in your practice?
Dr. Harris: I got four ops.
Shaun Keating: No kidding.
Dr. Harris: The way Pride designed it was you had two primary operatories. Then you had the hygiene room. The fourth room was kind of a swing room.
We have a silent communicator system in the office. If she’s ready for me to check her patients, I’ll see the doctor/hygiene lights light up. I know she did. However did it knows who did it.
If she’s got another patient, she can seat that other patient in that swing room and start the treatment. Usually, they don’t have to wait but five minutes, ten minutes at the most, for me to go check them, generally.
It takes the pressure off the hygienist to have to be waiting to clear that room.
All the rooms are pretty much identical. You can do anything in any room. That was part of the Pride philosophy, trying to have duplicate rooms to where you don’t have to just do a denture adjustment in one room. You can prep teeth in any room. It’s a lot more efficient that way.
We got x-ray units in every room. We got four operatories.
Shaun Keating: I bet a lot of the companies, like your Dentsply’s and Zahn’s and all the other big dental companies copied with what that Pride … What they did. There’s a lot of guys that set up dental office across the US. They probably took that into consideration. There’s a lot of thought to it.
I had one built out here. Pretty amazing how they come in and just do the schematic of the room and break it down. What goes where. All it takes is money. Make it flow. The Feng shui. It all flows.
Dr. Harris: I had dentists from three or four state that were coming to look at my office because Pride had put that in one of his brochures.
We had the French doors in the front, with the transom above it, the New Orleans type look. He liked that. He took a picture of it. Finally got to where I had to tell some of these people, “Look. I spent a lot of extra money to have this design.”
One of my dental supply guys said, “I saw some pictures of your office in Mississippi,” or something.
I said, “You can come look at it and I’ll show you around.”
I spent a lot of Fridays, when I wasn’t working on Fridays, showing dentists my office.
Shaun Keating: That’s awesome.
Dr. Harris: They did some things, like under my operatories, we have a crawlspace to where you can get under there if you got to re-plumb something, or dental design changes totally. You can access it to change it. If you want to go over the patient, or you want to go behind the patient, you can run your plumbing and wiring very easily that way, by having a crawlspace.
Shaun Keating: That’s important.
Dr. Harris: It’s a well-designed office. We try to take care of it. We repainted the whole thing recently. People think it looks like it’s two or three years old.
I think it’s important not to have cans in your parking lot and potato chip bags and peeling paint. One of my mentors said, “People walk into your place and they’re making judgements. If this is the way you take care of your stuff, is this what you’re going to do in my mouth?”
It’s not my false image. You truly believe that.
Pankey talks about keeping your cross and balance, too. Work, play, love, worship, and family. Trying to keep it balanced. That equals happiness.
Shaun Keating: That’s so true. It really is. In dentistry, you can get burnt out, as in other professions, I’m sure. But dentistry, especially. It takes a toll on you.
That balance is so important. It can be very rewarding if you do balance it, with worship, with family, and your patients, and how you treat them.
Same thing here in my lab. I have dentists come here and say, “This is the cleanest dental lab I’ve ever been in.” It’s just a pet peeve of mine. From the bathrooms to the floors being polished. I want it to be like your home. We’re here longer than we are at home, a lot of times.
Dr. Harris: It usually tells your clients, your customers, and my patients, how you feel about things. I think, it tells a lot about a person: how they take care of their stuff.
Shaun Keating: Absolutely. That’s awesome.
Dr. Harris: The Pankey Institute had a lot to do with me … I started going there three or four years after I was in practice. The practice was going all right but it’s drill, fill, and bill. Is that it?
They talk more about relationship-type dentistry, where you develop a good relationship with your patients, which is one of the reasons I work three and a half days a weeks.
There’s a word in French called [foreign language 00:40:43] It means “to visit.”
I get to visit with my patients. I know a lot of their families. They know mine. New Iberia is a community of about 30,000. My kids went to school here. I have coached pee wee football and pee wee baseball, and [inaudible 00:41:05] baseball …
Shaun Keating: What’d you coach in the football part? What were you? Defense, offense? What’d you do there? Head coach?
Dr. Harris: No. I was whatever they needed me.
Shaun Keating: That’s so cool.
Dr. Harris: Some dentists say, “I’m on call. I can’t do that.” I lost my daddy when I was 11. He was 46 when he died. I didn’t have anybody to come watch me.
My mother did. My mother didn’t know the difference between defense and offense. Later on, she’d call me, when I was in New Orleans. “Did you see the Saints game today? Did you see Tom [inaudible 00:41:43] kick? The defense sucked but the offense was really good today.”
Shaun Keating: That’s so cool.
Dr. Harris: This is my mother, man. But it gave her something to do. She was in that house by herself when we had left the house. I just try to be there for my kids and grandkids.
Shaun Keating: That’s it, man. What else is there in life. At the end of the day, family is pretty much what matters. Family is all we have really, at the end of the day. It’s so important. Really is.
Dr. Harris: I had girls who were cheerleaders. They were, actually, in some national competitions. I had one daughter who was All-American cheerleader. I had another daughter who was homecoming queen at LSU.
There’s all these festivals in Louisiana. She was the Yambilee queen, the same year. Thank god they look like their mother.
Shaun Keating: No kidding. Because I’ve seen you, Don.
I’m just kidding.
Dr. Harris: (laughs)
It’s involvement in things. My son’s got two degrees from LSU. He’s got a business degree and a mechanical engineering degree.
Nobody went into dentistry. My daughter is a registered dietitian, who’s got a master’s in education administration.
She practiced dietetics for a while.
She met her husband, who’s a French Canadian, who’s a physical therapist, at a hospital in New Orleans together. That’s where they met.
My youngest one, she got a degree in sociology from LSU. She had a good time. Did a few retail sales jobs, then she went back to AVEDA.
She cuts hair. She’s married to an attorney.
Shaun Keating: You’re all good, man. I’m trying to figure out what my boys. Get them out of the lab. Go get them a real job.
No. I’m just kidding.
Dr. Harris: My son’s wife, I didn’t mention her. She’s a registered dietitian, also.
Shaun Keating: I could use those two girls to come on down here.
Dr. Harris: Neither one of the dietitians are practicing dietetics.
Shaun Keating: You’re kidding. For a second, I thought you were saying dianetics. I’m saying, “Is that L. Ron Hubbard you’re talking about, or what?”
Dr. Harris: Registered dietitians.
Shaun Keating: Their advice is put the freaking fork down, dude. That’s the best advice you get. A dietetic, dude.
Dr. Harris: Anyway, my son’s wife, she’s a dietitian, too. But she’s doing draperies. When they built the house, she does these custom draperies. She loves it. She’s doing well with that.
I’m a very fortunate guy. [inaudible 00:44:54] which is the LaFayette area of Louisiana. We got a lot of good food around here. Crawfish etouffee and boiled crawfish, crabs, oysters, and all that good stuff.
Shaun Keating: I need to get out there. See, where you’re at, in New Iberia, how far up the freeway there is LaFayette. I see it here on the map. How far to Jerry Smith’s? He’s up in LaFayette, right?
Dr. Harris: 30 minutes.
Shaun Keating: That ain’t bad.
Dr. Harris: I live halfway between here and there. I live at Le Triomple. It’s a golf course community about 15 minutes from my office.
Shaun Keating: You get out and golf much or no? Little bit?
Dr. Harris: Yeah.
Shaun Keating: You a scratch golfer? What’d you got about a seven handicap, or what? I got a 36 handicap.
Dr. Harris: Depends when you ask me that. Right now, with all of these kids playing … We have six fall sports going on right now. Soccer, flag football, volleyball, fall baseball. We stay pretty active.
Shaun Keating: That’s awesome, dude. That’s good times.
Dr. Harris: It’s not helping my golf handicap any. When I’m playing well, I’m about a 10 or 12 handicap.
Shaun Keating: That’s so good. I broke a hundred once, and I cheated on that, I think.
That’s a par 70 course, or whatever.
Dr. Harris: That’s what you got that eraser for, huh?
Shaun Keating: My buddies call me “easy money,” because I like to bet. It’s like, “Come on! Let’s bet! Give me two strokes on every hole.”
They give me two strokes on every hole, and I still lose.
But I’m trying. I’m getting into it. The more I practice, and the more I play, it seems like the worse I get because I think about it more. I just got to let it go.
My whole thing is I swing to freaking hard. I try to crush everything. I got this big ole club. I take half the swing away and just plop it down. It’s called “old man golf,” someone told me a while back. “Just put it down a 150 yards, whatever, down, down, down the middle. And don’t be trying to crush it.”
I’m trying to get 300 yard drives. It’s like, “No, dude. Don’t do that.”
Dr. Harris: It’s one sport where, the harder you swing, sometimes, the shorter you go.
Shaun Keating: Exactly. [crosstalk 00:47:23]
Dr. Harris: We have a Louisiana Open. It’s a Web.com, PGA Tour event in our club. Some of the golfers who … These golfers are looking for places to stay. Some of them will stay with us.
I’ll go out. I might play with them. Just to look at how easy they swing and how far they hit it is amazing.
Shaun Keating: It’s the same swing on these pros, and even the guys that are good, that I watch, it’s the same, fluid, easy swing. It’s a different club.
Me, I could use a different club for each swing, my different irons. It goes different each one. It’s just weird.
I enjoy watching golf now because I started to play now. I admire every guy’s swing. Even the ladies, watching them play. They keep their head down. The way their arms and their body shifts.
I remember always watching John Daly, or whatever, just rip it and grip it and rip it. The way he brings abound his club, it’s like ear to ear.
I started trying to do that. It’s like, “Dude, don’t do that.”
I’m trying to find my way. I got the time and I got the money to go to the courses. That’s the easy part for me now. A lot of guys don’t have the time.
I do have the time, but it doesn’t matter. I suck.
Dr. Harris: You taken a few lessons?
Shaun Keating: Yeah. I took a few lessons with this one guy at the local course, right here by work. I’ve done that. Probably, 20, 30 lessons with him.
We started off one-on-one at the little area, where we do a bucket of balls and he tows me. He has me out on the course now. We’ll do three holes. Instead of doing that, I can just go do three holes with him.
We’ll pop on wherever in the course is open.
I kind of like that because I can watch him, then he watches me. I’m starting to get better. I’m starting to get a good swing. I don’t play for a month or two, and then it’s starting over again.
Even my condition before, man. It’s tough. You can’t drive your cart on the course in a lot of areas where I play. You got to freaking walk all over. It’s like, “Okay. Let’s go.” We got a foursome behind us, yelling, “Let’s move it!”
“Just come pick me up in a cart.”
“No, Shaun. You got to” …
That’s terrible. It’s getting better. But that’s awesome.
Tell me … [crosstalk 00:49:51]
Dr. Harris: It’s a good sport, though. It’s something you can play all your life.
Shaun Keating: Yeah. Absolutely. I love it. I really do.
Dr. Harris: My son and I play. He’s 46 years old. He and I play a lot together. It gives us some time together.
Shaun Keating: I play with my two boys. They always love it when I go. They’re like, “Dad, can we go with you and get off work?” I’m like, “Alright, boys. Come on.”
They both are really good. They were play since they were in junior high. All their buddies were into golf. They’re good. They get out there and they get at it. It’s pretty fun.
Dr. Harris: They a lot more flexible.
Shaun Keating: Heck yeah.
Dr. Harris: That’s a big part of it, you know?
Shaun Keating: Yeah. My belly. It’s hard to look down their lately. I got to get that gut down a little bit smaller.
I’m on my third pair of shoes for golfing. You got to have comfortable shoes, get the right ones. I’m just finding my way, but it’s a neat thing. I love it, for sure.
Real quick now, we’ll wrap this up, here. Tell me, on your patients, is it all word of mouth? Are you driving any business through social media? Do you do any marketing? For some of our younger guys, starting off, what do you do?
I bet you it’s a lot of word of mouth in your town, there. But 30,000 people, that’s a lot. It’s hard to get word of mouth with 30,000 people. What do you do?
Dr. Harris: With Dr. Pankey, he always talked about internal marketing. Word of mouth.
When you’ve got somebody that you’ve restored, or did quite a bit of work on, and they hack it with the work, you can either talk to them at the six month recall or get them back in for a pull-stop, no-charge consultation. Tell them you got to check the bit and, kind of, check everything out.
We call our patients after we’ve done pretty extensive work. We call them the next day, or that night, to see how they doing.
Shaun Keating: That’s good.
Dr. Harris: We know they doing well. Not everybody’s going to perfect, obviously. But you get people that you’ve done 8 or 10 units of bridge work on, or crown work. You get them in to fine tune something. You pretty well know they happy with what you’ve done for them.
Internal marketing, the way I look at it, is you say, “Look, Ms. Bouguereau. You like what we did you?”
She says, “I love my teeth. I can chew” …
Say, “If you have some friends, or you know somebody that needs that kind of work, why don’t you give them my name?”
She says, “I got a neighbor. She was telling me” … Dr. Pankey used to say, “You have happy patients, and you got missionary patients.” The difference is a happy patient, they happy with the work you done for them. But if you don’t put that bug that tells somebody about who did it, and maybe you want to go see this guy, the missionaries tell people about you.
They send patients to you.
We actually had to limit our practice, about 8 or 10 years ago. Otherwise, I’d have had to get a partner.
We still see a few new patients, but it’s by referral. If they not interested in preventative care, and they just want to come in for crisis dentistry, we not going to take them on.
Shaun Keating: That’s good.
Dr. Harris: It’s a [inaudible 00:53:49] practice. If you believe in what we doing … I told my mother one time I was a glorified school teacher. She looked at me like I was crazy. “You a doctor. You went to dental school.”
I say, “I understand all that, Mom.” I said, “But you got to educate your patients.”
It’s called raising their dental IQs. It takes time to educate them. But to try and educate them to what the benefits and advantages are … Because that’s what you selling. You selling benefits and advantages, why the work you do, and saving teeth, is better than some alternatives.
I’ll take off my glasses when somebody’s trying to decide on a denture or partial. I said, “Look, if you had a choice between good eyes and glasses, what would you pick?”
Shaun Keating: Good eyes.
Dr. Harris: Nobody has picked the glasses yet. I said, “If you’re picking dentures or partials, you’re picking glasses. If they tell you, you need 20 grand to fix your eyes, you’d go find it. Even if the insurance didn’t pay for it.”
Shaun Keating: Exactly.
Dr. Harris: I said, “Your teeth important to your health. If you got a healthy mouth, you going to be a healthier person.”
Shaun Keating: Absolutely.
Dr. Harris: Somebody might have gum disease. You press and you got puss coming out. I’ll give them a mirror and say, “Look, you see this?”
“Yeah. What is that?”
I said, “It’s puss.”
“In my mouth?”
I said, “Yep.”
“Don’t tell my wife that because she’ll never kiss me again.”
I said, “Get your mouth straightened up and you won’t have a problem.” I said, “But when you bleed, when you brush your teeth and you bleed here, in your mouth, if you stubbed your toe and it bled a little bit, that could have been the same blood that was in your mouth. It’s part of the circulatory system. It goes to your brain, your heart, your lungs, etc. It is proven that it’s just not healthy to have that circulating through your system all the time.”
Had somebody that had three badly abscessed teeth, recently. He had them taken out. He says, “I don’t know what happened but I’m more energetic now. I feel better.”
I said, “You got all that stuff in your mouth. It was pulling you back, or bringing you down. You don’t need all that infection in your mouth.”
We been able to make people believe in what we doing. Like I said, if somebody calls about being a new patient, and they hadn’t been seen in 15 years, we probably not going to be taking them on as a patient because that’s not the kind of patients we want to treat.
We’ll burn the midnight oil for people who want to take care of themselves. If they want us to do it all for them, and they don’t want to be part of the team that helps them keep their teeth, I’d rather them not be here.
Shaun Keating: Is that part of your phase treatment? What’s the phase treatment? How does that work?
Dr. Harris: The phase is treatment is, if somebody’s got some limited fund, we at least try and save everything you can save by … Phase one is getting rid of all the decay, getting the gums healthy, and balancing the bite, if they got some bite discrepancies.
Phase two is starting to replace missing teeth, or starting to do crowns that need to be done.
You can do it over time. That way, it allows them to … A school teacher, or a nurse, or somebody who works for the city, to get that kind of work done, if you show them a way that they can get it done.
They can’t come up with 15 grand, or 10 grand, or 20 grand, overnight. But some of them have insurance policies that have a $1,000 to $2,000 … You do a couple crowns a year until they get them all done.
They love you for that because you trying …
Shaun Keating: You’re working with them and you’re trying to be a partner with them, not trying to dictate to them. You’re trying to let them know what we can do and the best way to do it. That’s awesome.
Dr. Harris: You can end up with optimum dentistry. We get paid with a check or cash.
Shaun Keating: Really?
Dr. Harris: We don’t have credit cards in my office, and my collection percentage is 105%.
Shaun Keating: (laughs)
Are you total fee for service? No insurances, either, or no?
Dr. Harris: With the insurances on the major stuff, I’m not part of any PPOs or HMOs. It’s conventional third party insurance. We’ll work with them on their share, their copay or whatever you want to call it.
Every practice management consultant that I’ve ever talked to says you’ve got to charge interest on your payment plans. I have never charged interest on my payment plans. I had the Don Harris payment plan, which was zero interest …
Shaun Keating: Called cash! Give me the cash!
Dr. Harris: No, it’s checks. Most of it, we get paid as checks.
Shaun Keating: Dude, a check is cash, basically.
Dr. Harris: Yeah. I got you.
Shaun Keating: That’s awesome. I bet your tax bill’s not too bad at the end of the year, huh? I did four grand this year.
Dr. Harris: Right. No, no. We don’t keep two sets of books. Only one set of books.
We deduct a lot of things that might be in a gray area, but I don’t do the two sets of books.
Shaun Keating: Neither do I. That’s funny.
Dr. Harris: Anyway, we talked about the payment plans. Dr. Pankey was surviving in Coral Gables, Florida, during the depression. He had a active practice.
Don’t get me wrong, Coral Gables is a rather affluent area. First of all, you got to know your patients. There’s a saying, “Never treat a stranger.” You got to get to know your patients. The ones you know … I don’t have to run a credit report on them. I know who’s good for it and who’s not.
I can’t remember when we had to turn a bill over to small claims, or get a lawyer involved, anything like that, because we trying to get people to play with good, relative appreciation for what we doing.
If they understand that you’re on their side, and you trying to help them to be a healthier person, they truly appreciate that.
That’s pretty much what you’re talking about with the phase treatment, right?
Shaun Keating: Yeah. Absolutely. That’s awesome.
Dr. Harris: It’s just breaking out the work they need over time.
Shaun Keating: Not trying to sell it. Just trying to explain to it, and they make the decision. “This is what we should do. We can phase this out in three phases” … How many phases it is. But that’s awesome, dude.
Dr. Harris: I put a couple crowns in on a lady this morning. KDZ Bruxer crowns. She and her husband, over a 10 or 15 year period, have got their mouths restored.
I’m good with that.
Shaun Keating: That’s awesome.
Dr. Harris: I’ve done some full-mouth reconstruction, but I let Jerry Smith and Danny do those under IV sedation.
Shaun Keating: You can sleep good at night because that stuff …
Dr. Harris: I’ll do my little one or two, three or four crowns, here and there. I got a good lab called Keating Dental, in California, that takes care of my stuff for me.
Shaun Keating: That’s it, baby. I think we’re going to end it on that. Keating Dental Lab in California does them good. All the way out in Louisiana.
Dr. Harris: I think we had 12 people in that coarse. I think you had two from out of state. The female dentist from Massachusetts and me. Got on that big airplane and flew out to LA.
I grew up in a town of 500 people, landing in LAX and got on … Isn’t it I-45?
Shaun Keating: 405. Yep. 405 South towards San Diego.
Dr. Harris: Drove down to Irvine. 3:00 on a Friday afternoon. I said, “Bring it on.”
Shaun Keating: Bring it on.
Dr. Harris: There’s no point in [crosstalk 01:02:40] this stuff. You know?
Shaun Keating: That was so cool, dude. That’s awesome.
Dr. Harris: We only had gravel roads where I grew up.
Shaun Keating: (laughs)
Dr. Harris: I’m on this 18 lane interstate. My wife says, “You going to be all right?” I said, “Yeah. We going to be all right. We can get there.”
Shaun Keating: Everyone’s going 90 miles an hour.
Dr. Harris: I love the coarse that we went to. Everybody treated us like royalty. We appreciated it.
Shaun Keating: We appreciate you, man, and all the years. We’re so thankful. Our technicians love you. Don Harris from Louisiana.
I told my wife this morning at breakfast, I go, “I got a podcast early, at 9:30 this morning.” She goes, “Who is it?”
I go, “It’s Tabasco Don.”
She goes, “Tell him I said hi.”
We had that stuff in our cupboard for, like, years. I had like 40 bottles. It was different flavors. Tabasco sauces. I put that on my eggs every morning. I didn’t know it had 15 other different kind of flavors and other spices. It’s a big company, with different things you never really think about.
Dr. Harris: When I was at the Pankey Institute, they were first in downtown Miami, then they moved to Key Biscayne. When I was going down as a teaching assistant, I would bring a box of these little … Ned Simmons was the president of Tabasco. He was one of my patients.
The marketing director, Cecil Hymel, the guy that sent you the …
Shaun Keating: Yeah! Cecil! I remember doing his teeth.
Dr. Harris: His wife worked for me for 10 years. She’s my backup dental assistant. That’s how I can get you whatever you need.
At the time, when I’d go down there, I’d bring a box of these little, miniature Tabasco bottles. Don’t know if you’ve seen those.
Shaun Keating: Yeah. Absolutely.
Dr. Harris: They were about, I don’t know, an inch tall. I had them in a box. We at this Cuban restaurant, eating breakfast. I was with one of the other instructors and had that box sitting there. That little waitress is looking in the box and says, “Sir, where did you get those?”
I said, “I’m from Louisiana. I’m from where they make them.”
She says, “You think I could have a couple of those?”
I said, “Yeah! Sure. Here’s a couple of them.”
The classes were usually like 25 to 30 people, dentists from all over the United States. We had some people from England, sometimes. We might have a group from Japan. I’d bring Tabasco out there and give it out to them.
I’m one of their roving ambassadors.
Shaun Keating: Tabasco Don, man. That’s what you’re kind of known for.
I remember talking to Cecil, I don’t know how I talked to him, but yeah. You’re a legend.
Dr. Harris: I’ve gotten a lot of good patients from them, through the years. We had a little intern from New Jersey, who was working at Avery Island, where the plant is. He goes to Sewanee, he’s a Sewanee college student. He had an abscessed tooth. I sent him to … I use a team of oral surgeons. I don’t do extractions. I don’t do endo or perio.
I got a team of periodontists, endodontists, oral surgeons, pedodontist, orthodontists, that I use to do the things that I don’t want to do in my general practice.
You’re more likely to be happy to go to work in the morning, if you’re doing the things you like to do.
Shaun Keating: I think so, and we’ve talked a lot about that. Do you do endo? Do you do ortho?
I go a lot of guys that try to do it all, and it’s because they have to, or they like to, genuinely. But the guys that do what they want to do, they’re the ones that got the 40, 50 year careers that are still doing it and still loving it with a passion, like you do.
You call here. You’re always upbeat. You’re always loving the cases, the patients. You treat them like family. It’s just a joy to hear it in your voice, and to hear the way you run your practice. I love hearing that.
Dr. Harris: God give everybody a gift. You got to figure out what the gift is. I think he gave me that gift.
When you have a broken down interior tooth. They come in and you build it up, a corner with the composite, and it looks like the tooth, that’s a big, big improvement through the years: the materials.
Shaun Keating: From 71 to now, I bet you’ve seen a lot, dude.
Dr. Harris: It was a misnomer to call it a tooth-colored filling. When you put a filling in the front, a silicate, it was white. Said, “Oh. You have a new, white filling.”
Nowadays, I got to look at the chart, sometimes, to see where we put those, you know?
Shaun Keating: Exactly.
Dr. Harris: When you show a patient a panorex, and they see the size of those interior fillings, they freak out. They look like normal teeth, in most cases.
There’s two rewards you receive. I got to put this in there: there’s two rewards you receive. One of them is financial, and one of them is spiritual. Early on, you got to have the money coming in to pay for notes and etc. The bank is looking at you every month.
After you’ve been practicing 46 years, and you get out of debt, the spiritual reward is the most important part.
Shaun Keating: I think that is so on the money. I even find that, at my age, you get to a point where you do make the money. I think it’s more about, now, once you’ve reached that, it’s more about touching people’s lives and make a difference.
What are you really here for? What can I offer that … I’m not super smart in a lot of areas. I make teeth. What can I do to change a person’s life, or try to touch a person’s life each day.
I try to do that and just try to be good. You don’t know who’s coming across …
Dr. Harris: Just treat people right and do the right things.
Shaun Keating: Exactly.
Dr. Harris: I at a … With gray hair and no hair, and people like, “You can’t retire because I don’t want to go to another dentist.”
We’ve turned a lot of people’s lives around.
I was an IV therapist for two years when I was in dental school. We did 30, 40 IVs a night. You learn how to use a needle.
Fear is the main reason that people don’t go to the dentist. The three reasons is time, fear, and money. But the main reason is fear. They got a lot of people who can afford it and won’t go because they’re afraid.
Dr. Pankey used to say, “You got to treat the chief complaint.”
If you can do it when they come in, and they hurting, and get them out of pain and not hurt them, usually, you going to have a patient come back to you.
Shaun Keating: Absolutely.
Dr. Harris: It’s nice when people say, “When you going to give the shot.” I said, “We did it.”
When you hear that, that’s pretty nice.
Shaun Keating: That really is. I’ve had a few people tell me that. Even with my wife, I’d send her to different dentists through the years. “Try this dentist.” She just always had hard times going to the dentist.
Finally, my sister had this dentist in Irvine, Dr. Tsai. My sister said, “Shaun, you should have Shannon go there.”
She went there 15 years ago, and she loves it.
She’s had a crown here and there. He’s just so good. Wiggles the lip, you don’t feel the shot. She doesn’t mind going to the dentist. I think that whole fear thing is so important.
With the guys out there that do practice great bedside manner, and just practice good dentistry, having the patients fear gone by the time they visit them the first time, that’s so important. There’s such a bad stigma out there. Going to the dentist.
That was back in the 60s and 70s that all started. That’s got to change.
I’ve had root canals done where I go to the endodontist, and I don’t feel that it’s the same as going to get a crown prep. You feel nothing. When you go to a good dentist, you should feel no pain.
It’s a real neat thing when people start to realize that going to the dentist is not that bad thing anymore. It can be a real enjoyable experience, you know?
You’re helping yourself. You’re getting your teeth fixed. It’s so important how those teeth fix.
Not only for aesthetics, but for function and everything else.
To many people put it off because of the fear. They could afford it. It’s about the fear.
Dr. Harris: The feeling of turning that around, for somebody who’s a dental-phobic, is an amazing feeling.
I got a patient, more than one patient, that when they first started coming in, we had to use nitrous oxide on them. Really do a lot of talking. You numb them up, and you get the work done.
After a few years, they’d say, “I don’t think I need that nitrous oxide anymore.”
Shaun Keating: In my case, I’m like, “I’ll take it for the cleaning.”
Dr. Harris: Some people would, for recreational reasons.
Shaun Keating: I don’t need it. I want it.
Dr. Harris: Right. Right.
You got a couple people, you got to give them nitrous to clean their teeth. Not because you’re hurting them.
And they’ll pay the extra month for the nitrous.
Shaun Keating: It’s 50 bucks! How much it cost?
Can you fill up this jumbo balloon for me, I can bring home?
Dr. Harris: We try and tell our patients we want to do this work with minimum discomfort. We aught to be able to keep your teeth in maximum comfort function, health, and aesthetics. In other words, look good, feel good, and chew good.
We can accomplish that in a very comfortable environment.
Sometimes, I’ll give them an injection, and they say, “I kind of felt a little bit.” I’ll pinch their hand, the top of their hand. I’ll say, “Was it any worse than that, right there?”
“Oh, no. Not at all.”
I’ll say, “You see? You didn’t even flinch then.”
You got to think about is this really bothering you that bad? You know?
Shaun Keating: Yeah. It’s just the pressure.
I remember the one doctor saying, “That’s just pressure. You’re not feeling any pain. That’s just pressure.”
Dr. Harris: People don’t want people in their mouth. It’s a personal thing. The more comfortable you can make them feel, the more likely they going to sit there and let you accomplish what you need to accomplish.
Shaun Keating: Exactly. Well, dandy Don Harris, Dr. Don Harris, man. I can’t thank you enough for coming on this week, on our podcast. Dude, I can’t thank you for all the work enough. You’re just a great guy.
We got some new seminars coming up this next year. We’re getting them all dialed in, here, in this next few weeks. If you could come out for one of them again, we’d love to have you. Can’t thank you enough.
Dr. Harris: Yeah. We’ll have to do that.
Shaun Keating: That’d be awesome. And I got to get out to Louisiana. Dr. Smith, he has this fishing thing, I think, in July, or something. You go catch these fish. I want to get out there with you guys. You guys sound like you’d be fun to have a good ole trip with fishing and some brewskis and some cigars. I think I’m in for that.
Dr. Harris: Some good food and some adult beverages.
Shaun Keating: That’s it, baby! I’m there. Front of the line.
Dr. Harris: I live on a golf course, too.
Shaun Keating: I’ll bring my PXGs, man.
Dr. Harris: And I have two bedrooms upstairs that are open all the time. With your own bathroom. My golf cart has got my clubs on it, ready to go.
Shaun Keating: Yeah, baby! I’m there.
Dr. Harris: I wasn’t kidding about … They play a PGA event. They have a PGA event in New Orleans. The big PGA. The Web.com Louisiana Open is played in my backyard.
Shaun Keating: Dude, we’re there. Let me know when that is and we’ll get it all set up.
Dr. Harris: You can fish and you can play golf.
Shaun Keating: And I want to eat, and I’m going to go down and have me a couple hurricanes.
No. I’ll be in jail. I’ll go to jail there, if I go there. We got to be good.
Dr. Harris: I’m an expert at old fashions and margaritas.
Shaun Keating: There you go. I’m a Bud Light guy.
Dr. Harris: They even better than the hurricanes. A hurricane is kind of a tourist thing in the [inaudible 01:16:05]
Shaun Keating: That’ll mess with your stomach, too. Give me my Bud Light. It has drinkability, baby.
Dr. Harris: I got you.
Shaun Keating: Give me 20 of those on ice.
Dr. Harris: All right.
Shaun Keating: All right, dude.
Dr. Harris: I appreciate talking to you.
Shaun Keating: Thank you, Dr. Harris. Talk to you soon, dude.
Dr. Harris: All right. Okay.