Romance in the dental practice ... what is and is not allowed?

November 6, 2014
Hollie Bryant
Hollie Bryant

Hollie Bryant is a passionate speaker, writer, coach and off-site team member for many practices across the United States. Hollie has over a decade and a half of neuromuscular and cosmetic dentistry experience. Her formal education, ongoing CE, practice management and clinical skills have allowed her to provide a modernized spin to consulting services. From Dr. Ross Nash to Dr. Jeff Blank and on to Dr. Brad Durham, Hollie's education and long list of successful practices have added to her credibility for dental practice management consulting. The Nash Institute, New Millennium Education and the Niche Practice were all educational facilities that Mrs. Bryant has worked with. She is a member of the American Academy of Dental Office Managers, American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, Academy of Dental Management Consultants, Academy of Comprehensive Esthetics, and the American Dental Assistants Association. She is also the owner of Bryant Consultants (, a full service practice management consulting firm that provides practice success for progressive and neuromuscular dental practices.

Slowly creeping near two decades in dentistry, I have witnessed many dental practices hit with various types of "in office" romance. Unfortunately, through hard knocks such as the loss of a key team member, office reputation issues, turnover, and, even in rare cases, lawsuits, I have seen things deteriorate rapidly. If asked, the "hard way" is not the optional way. In hindsight, if given a chance to prevent this from happening, the business owners would jump at the chance to have defined guidelines in place.

Office romances have a plethora of mixed experiences for many, and it often depends on what side of the romance you are on. The reason for this mix of results can be defined with two areas: transparency and office policies.

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Whether you are hiring, firing, or communicating in the office, transparency is imperative. An office romance in full swing can’t be a secret … because it's not going to stay a secret for long. Words like favoritism, partiality, preference, or even bias will start creeping in the communication of the team as well as becoming a part of office culture. Be transparent with your team.

Office Policies

With written policies about patient, team, and doctor relationships in place, any type of romance can stay checked at the door and the business can thrive without the toxicities of the personal and professional relationship waters getting muddled.

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Let's be real … dentistry is no different from any other business in this world. In the majority of businesses, it is against office guidelines to have interoffice relationships. It's not a rule that is to prevent you from finding true love, but rather a common guideline that prevents employees from ever being judged on anything other than performance.

Spending 8-10 hours a day together all week, often times your work becomes your social life and feelings can easily escalate if written policies are not clearly defined and reviewed as needed. Business owners hold the keys to making these decisions and placing them on paper prior to ever having to face the unchartered water of interoffice romance and patient romance.

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