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Why the Best Dentists Never Stop Learning with Dr. Daren Becker
Episode 4531st August 2022 • The Best Practices Show • ACT Dental
00:00:00 01:02:31

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Why the Best Dentists Never Stop Learning

Episode #453 with Dr. Daren Becker

Masters never call themselves masters, and they are lifelong learners. To be the best, you need to keep learning. And to help you become a better learner, Kirk Behrendt brings back Dr. Daren Becker, one of the best practicing dentists, to share his approach to learning and ways to further your education. If you think you know everything, you can't learn anything! To keep an open mind, listen to Episode 453 of The Best Practices Show!

Main Takeaways:

You can never know everything.

Take courses at multiple institutions.  

Remember to keep “sharpening the saw”.

Seek out different mentors and places to learn.

The best dentists know they don't have it all figured out.


“The day I say, ‘I made it,’ is the day that I hang it up.” (27:08—27:11)

“When I was practicing with Dr. Jim, maybe after three months I'm there, I'm right out of dental school. Sure, I'd heard all this stuff. But when I heard it originally, I hadn't gone to dental school yet, so I didn't know anything. And I realized very quickly, because Jim had me for that whole first year — I sat in on every single new-patient exam that he did. Not just sat in, I was the assistant while he was doing his comprehensive evaluation on every new patient that he saw. I sat in on that. Wow, what an experience. Wow, what a way to realize what you don't know. And just to be able to hang, to speak the language, I had to go further my education.” (27:24—28:13)

“Before he passed away, I loved sitting in any course where Dr. Dawson was in the audience. He would take more notes than anyone there. Dr. Parker Mahan, same thing. And it was a great role model to being a lifelong learner.” (46:07—46:26)

“The best dentists I know are continually trying to learn more and better, both technical and behavioral and philosophical and all of that. And the best dentists I know have sought out many different mentors and teachers and places to learn. So, when people ask me, ‘Should I take Pankey or a Dawson course?’ the answer is yes. The best dentists I know have studied at at least two, and usually three of the bigger centers: Pankey, Kois, Dawson, Spear.” (46:42—47:26)

“I was down at Pankey taking — I don't remember which course. Continuum 5 or 6, something down the road. Not my first time. I was in a lecture, and I want to say Dr. Rich Green was in the room, and he was helping us get through this concept of incisal edge shape and the pitch and the bevel. Anyway, it clicked for me, and I finally got it and understood it in a way that I could feel like I could apply it. And I was a little bit perturbed that no one had ever told me this before. And my dad said, ‘Go pull out your Continuum 1 manual.’ And back then, we got these big, thick manuals. ‘Pull out your level one manual and look at it.’ And sure enough, not only was there a section on this, in my own handwriting were notes about the same topic. So, I just wasn't in a place where I was ready to learn it.” (47:37—48:44)

“Why do I keep going and taking courses even though I'm on faculty and I'm teaching Essentials 4 now? Well, very simply, I might have missed something. There might be something new. I might hear it differently because of where I am now. I might hear it differently just because it’s somebody different telling it to me.” (48:56—49:14)

“I think if we are myopic in our learning, in our continued learning, and, ‘I am only going to take courses here. Pete Dawson is my guru, and I'm only going to take courses at the Dawson center,’ okay, great learning. But at some point, you're going to be missing out on something else.” (49:19—49:41)

The Cornell Effect by Dr. John Cranham and A Better Way by Dr. Pete Dawson, these are books that I love to reread. And I might find inspiration when I need it. I might find a pearl that I missed the first or second or third time I read it. But I think dental continuing education is the same thing. As soon as you think you know everything, somebody just passed you.” (53:00—53:30)

“Dr. Kincaid used to talk about sharpening the saw. You might have the sharpest saw of anyone. But if you don't keep sharpening it, it’s going to dull.” (53:31—53:39)


0:00 Introduction.

4:20 Dr. Becker’s background and his experience at Pankey.

9:26 What prompted Dr. Becker to become a dentist.

13:49 The appeal of fly-fishing.

16:03 Pros and cons of being Dr. Erwin Becker’s son.

17:04 Dr. Becker after dental school.

22:12 Advice for bringing in associates.

24:15 How ACT helped Dr. Becker’s practice.

27:01 Why Dr. Becker went to The Pankey Institute.

29:02 Dr. Becker’s breakthrough moment.

31:00 Referrals from specialists are the best patients.

38:41 Pankey’s Masters’ Week.

41:12 Masters’ Week at other institutions.

45:14 Masters continue to learn.

50:14 Dr. Becker’s favorite book.

55:52 Last thoughts and how to get involved with Pankey.

Reach Out to Dr. Becker:

Dr. Becker’s website:

Dr. Becker’s Instagram: @doc_becks


A Philosophy of the Practice of Dentistry by Dr. L.D. Pankey and Dr. William J. Davis:

The Cornell Effect by Dr. John C. Cranham:

A Better Way by Dr. Peter E. Dawson:

The Pankey Institute:

Pankey Masters’ Week:

Essentials courses at Pankey:

Essentials courses at Florida Dental Association:

Essentials courses at Hinman:

Dr. Daren Becker Bio:

Dr. Daren Becker earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Science from American International College, and Doctor of Dental Medicine from the University of Florida College of Dentistry.

Dr. Becker began private practice in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1998 with an emphasis on comprehensive, restorative, implant, and aesthetic dentistry. He is the owner and full-time dentist at Atlanta Dental Solutions, and is in full-time, fee-for-service private practice.

Dr. Becker began his advanced studies at The Pankey Institute in 1998. He was invited to be a guest facilitator in 2006 and has been on the visiting faculty since 2009. In addition, in 2006, he began spending time facilitating dental students from Medical College of Georgia School of Dentistry at the Ben Massell Clinic (treating indigent patients) as an adjunct clinical faculty member. In 2011, he was invited to be a part-time faculty member in the Graduate Prosthodontics Residency at the Center for Aesthetic and Implant Dentistry at Georgia Health Sciences University, now Georgia Regents University College of Dental Medicine (formerly Medical College of Georgia).

Dr. Becker has been involved in organized dentistry and has chaired and/or served on numerous state and local committees. Currently, he is a delegate to the Georgia Dental Association. He has lectured at the Academy of General Dentistry annual meeting, is a regular presenter at ITI Study Club, as well as numerous other study clubs. He is a regular contributor at Red Sky Dental Seminars.

In addition to his enthusiasm for sharing his knowledge, Dr. Becker’s strengths are in meeting and special event planning, and CE program development. Dr. Becker lives in the Dunwoody area of Atlanta, Georgia, with his wife, Amanda, and their daughters Alicia and Addison. He is passionate about fly-fishing and enjoys traveling, golf, and outdoor photography.