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Human Performance for Dental Professionals

It’s Friday evening, 6pm. Your receptionist sends you a message telling you that the patients in the waiting room are becoming frustrated. You have been running late as a result of a complicated extraction earlier in the afternoon. Your notes are still incomplete from your previous patient and your nurse has to leave early. What do you do?”

Dentistry is an ever-evolving profession that tasks us not only to be technically skilled but also to manage many different stressors. As dentists we deal with pressurised situations daily where an individual mistake can build to a catastrophe if not addressed early.

Accidents in complex environments such as aviation or dentistry can occur through the accumulation of multiple factors and failures. Reason (1990) famously developed an accident causation model based on the Swiss Cheese Metaphor that suggests multiple contributors (the holes in cheese slices) must be aligned for any accidents to occur. Barriers in a system (the slices themselves) are intended to prevent errors that result in these adverse events. However, when conditions are optimal and multiple failures align under the right conditions, the likelihood of accidents increases significantly.

Our consulting and insights services provide the very latest in Human Factors methodologies, and our courses have been designed to give dental professionals relevant tools, including workload management, stress and risk reduction.

Black Box Dentistry is developed and run by experienced professional pilots and dentists, and can used as part of dental Continuous Professional Development (CPD).


I had the fortunate experience of attending the pilot Black Box Dentistry course. The event ran smoothly and the team were fantastic. Having recently graduated, my biggest fear was for a simple human error, which could have been prevented, to lead to catastrophic disasters. The team provided a systematic approach to prevent unfortunate events and it is something I will take with me as I tackle the world of Dentistry!

For those who are looking to learn and apply newly taught decision making tools and an experience of a life-time, I would recommend this course.

Dentist and pilot in dental surgery
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