Applying McDonaldisation to dentistry

mcdonaldisationCan you make a burger better than McDonald’s? You bet you can. But can you build a better burger making and delivery system than McDonald’s? No, but we can learn from it, says Ken O’Brien.

McDonald’s isn’t successful because it makes great burgers. It is because of the system it has for consistently delivering the food in the same way everywhere in the world. It is quick and efficient.

That success led to the creation of ‘McDonaldisation’ by American sociologist George Ritzer. This is a particular kind of rationalisation of production, work and consumption. This rose to prominence in the late 20th century.

The four pillars of McDonaldisation

There are four primary components of McDonaldisation. They are being rolled out in all sorts of industries today, even dentistry – more on that later.

The four pillars are:

  1. Efficiency, which entails a managerial focus on minimising the time required to complete individual tasks, as well as that required to complete the whole operation or process of production and distribution
  2. Calculability is a focus on quantifiable objectives (counting things) rather than subjective elements (evaluation of quality)
  3. Predictability and standardisation are found in repetitive and routine production or service delivery processes and in the consistent output of products or experiences that are identical or close to it (predictability of the consumer experience)
  4. Control is wielded by management to ensure that workers appear and act the same way on a moment-to-moment and daily basis. It also refers to the use of robots and technology to reduce or replace human employees wherever possible.

This is how it is used in McDonald’s:

  1. A Big Mac is cooked the most efficient way possible
  2. Unit sizes are standardised, so cooking time is easily calculated
  3. Products are then predictable; London and New York will have the same tasting Big Mac
  4. Human error is mitigated through technological functions (eg, fries are cooked using a timer that automatically lifts them out of the oil when done).


It would be reasonable to ask at this point what McDonaldisation has to do with dentistry. Many businesses, irrespective of their sector, are looking for new ways to meet customer demand. Today’s consumers want things done yesterday! 

Dentistry is no different. However, that desire for immediate results must be partnered with high-quality outcomes. McDonaldisation can help us achieve exactly that and is perhaps best illustrated with an example.

Chrome offers pioneering full-arch stackable guide technology. It was developed for dentists who desire a pre-planned, predictable guided ‘All-On-X’ type of surgery.

It works within the McDonaldisation framework as follows:

  1. Chrome is made in the most efficient way possible
  2. Planning, surgery and prostheses are standardised, so treatment time can be easily calculated
  3. Products are predictable – Chrome surgery outcomes are the same in London and New York
  4. Human error is mitigated using technological functions (eg, implants are in the correct place and the right amount of bone is reduced to allow a perfect outcome).


Obviously, we’re not looking to adopt the ethos of a fast-food restaurant entirely and become ‘McDentists’, as quality remains key but, by using these four pillars carefully, we in dentistry can most definitely improve our efficiency to the benefit of all involved, as well as adding to the business’ bottom line. 

Chrome offers the perfect example of that. I believe there is no reason you couldn’t roll it out in other dental-related areas. 

Saving time and money

McDonaldisation can help you save time and money, without compromising on quality.

Imagine you are a dental corporate and, for the sake of simple maths, 50 of your practices are performing just one conventional full arch case per year. 

Internal figures at Quoris 3D tell us that each case done utilising Chrome saves the clinician an average of seven hours per arch; so, seven multiplied by 50 equates to 350 hours saved.

If you divide those 350 hours by the average working day, you are looking at 43.75 days saved across the year!

Or we could put a financial spin on it; let’s say a day of implant placement is worth £5,000, which is a conservative estimate. You could use those found, rounded down 43 days to perform more treatments, which adds £215,000 to the practice’s bottom line. 

If we take that one step further and look at the case planning and documentation using Chrome then those 50 clinics will each have planned the case the same way. Each will attend an online planning meeting (20 minutes per case). Each will get a video of the plan for sign of by the lead clinician and each will get a complete script of components needed for the day of surgery. They will also get a Surgi Mat to help on the day of surgery to lay everything out. Quoris 3D also offers chairside support, bespoke training courses and one to one mentoring.

Chrome – a digital full-arch workflow

The Chrome service delivers anchored bite verification, anchored bone reduction, anchored site drilling, accurate anchored provisionalisation. Also, a method of transferring all surgical and restorative information for the final restorative conversion phase. 

This article was first published in Dentistry magazine. Read the latest issue of Dentistry here.

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