(856) 264-9890
Download Our Free E-Book
Join The Academy Buy Our Books Attend A Seminar Contact Barry

Modern Dentistry

July 19, 2017

Filed under: Business of Dentistry,Uncategorized — Barry @ 10:20 AM

 

I keep getting asked the same question over and over again these days.

And I don’t like it.

You see, I am very sensitive about the way I look. I think I am in great shape, and I feel better than ever…the results of eating well, going to the gym and doing hot Yoga six days per week. I will be 70 years old at my next birthday…but…

My patients keep asking me when I am going to retire. They need to stop that! But really I have some mixed emotions about it.

On the one hand, I wonder why, all of a sudden patients are saying things like, “Hey Doc, you have to let me know when you’re going to retire,” or “Doc, I hope you give me plenty of notice before you retire so I can find another dentist.”

I wonder if they are just doing the math, because I don’t look or act any older. It’s happening so often that it is beginning to bother me. But I should be flattered.

After forty two years of practice what they are really saying (at least how I interpret it) is, “Thanks for taking care of me for all of these years.” In essence they are expressing the idea that they need me and that they appreciate me.

And that’s nice.

So often I hear how dentistry is a thankless profession. Sure there are those who thank us for specific things, and there are those patients who are naturally very grateful, but mostly we do our work without getting the recognition. And I am not speaking about that big beautiful cosmetic case. I am talking about everyday routine dentistry.

It’s nice to know that working hard for so many years to develop a relationship based practice, that the reward is the greatest reward of all…being needed, having practiced with a purpose for so many years. When I look around dentistry today, with the growth of insurance based practices and corporate dentistry I see these rewards diminishing in favor of transactional dental relationships – or strictly functional relationships.

Practicing dentistry with meaning and purpose is one of its greatest rewards. More than money – meaning and purpose will keep the dentist and staffs practicing longer and staying healthier and living longer. Research has shown that meaningful work can add years to your life.

So I come to work everyday and get greeted by my patient-friends who remind me daily how much being their dentist has meant to them, then I go on social media and get reminded how modern dentistry is today. I marvel at our technical advances yet see how much less human we have become. I see dentists flexing their muscles, showing off their beautiful cases but I wonder if they truly understand the longterm value and meaning of the relationships – or is it just about the teeth?

I see cases with no sense of diagnosis and treatment planning. I see cases presented by “financial people” who never get to understand the patients real needs and desires. I see some nice dentistry. I see some lousy dentistry but mostly I see evidence of people not being understood at a level this profession should be doing.

We could do better. Dentistry used to do a lot better. That is why I stayed “old school.” Maybe my patients are also saying something else…not only that they need me but that we truly miss the way dentists used to be…before these modern times.

 

 

 

 

What Good is Philosophy?

July 11, 2017

Filed under: Happiness,Positive Psychology,Self-development — Tags: — Barry @ 10:11 PM

 

 

Throughout my career in dentistry I have been known as a “philosopher.”  While many of my colleagues focused on technical dentistry in order to find fulfillment and success in dentistry, I read the works of Aristotle, Marcus Aurelius and Anthony Robbins looking for answers to life’s biggest questions. Just about everything I ever wrote offered a philosophical point of view.

And most people didn’t like it. One friend, many years ago, told me that philosophy just doesn’t sell. Yet I always believed in what the great motivational speaker, Jim Rohn once said, “your personal philosophy is the greatest determining factor in how your life works out.” It seemed the more I spoke about philosophy, the more I annoyed people. Just ask my kids.

But I am hooked, so I continue to look for the answers to some of my biggest questions about life and work. I just happened to be a dentist so my work is dentistry.

Three of the biggest influences in my life have been Dr. L.D. Pankey’s philosophy which is based on Aristotle and the Greeks, Abraham Maslow and the humanistic psychology movement and most recently the work of Martin Seligman and positive psychology. The problem that I saw with all of these was not in the analytics or thought processes, but mostly in the application. In other words…how do you bring this stuff to real life?

Pankey’s philosophy was great. Once I learned to know myself, my patient and my work…I was still lost. The biggest void came in the “apply your knowledge” arm of his Cross. Maslow really turned my head around because now I understood why I couldn’t take the next steps without fulfilling basic needs. And until I had enough of the lower needs I couldn’t move up the hierarchy. Marty Seligman’s PERMA model was the one that really opened my eyes because now I finally knew that philosophy was based in real science. My last book, Short Guide to a Long Career explains his PERMA model in detail- and how to apply it in dental practice.

Seligman recently added a “V” to his model. It stands for VITALITY.

And the “V” ends up being a key to the whole puzzle of application.

When one reads his Well-Being Theory, there is an implication that we follow it as it reads—P-E-R-M-A-V. Maybe that’s just because I am a dentist and see life very linearly…dentists like step-by-step instructions.

Allow me to digress. Those of you who have read The Art of the Examination know that I am a type 2 diabetic. I have been for thirty years, and for all of those years I have controlled my blood sugar with diet and exercise.

But no longer. I recently went on insulin. No biggie…really. When you go on insulin it forces you to become even more aware of the cellular and micro-changes of diet and exercise. I now pay much more attention to basic biochemistry—yes I now realize just how philosophically important the Krebs Cycle is to all of our lives. Metabolism – is the key to our lives and our vitality.

Metabolism is the key to our energy – and how we create and spend our energy is how we live our lives. Most of us concentrate on managing time and money to create successful lives…but I implore you that the payoffs are much greater when we focus on managing our energy.

Throughout my entire career, looking back, it was high amounts of positive energy that was responsible for most of my successes.

So what is the lesson here? That the V…the Vitality module of Marty Seligman’s Well-Being Theory is the starting point for a successful life. The V includes diet, exercise, mindfulness meditation and sleep hygiene. Once the V is covered, you will have the energy to exercise more willpower to make better choices and focus on being more optimistic, more resilient, applying more effort and more grit, better focus and concentration in developing better skills, using your strengths, building better and more fulfilling connections, working with meaning and purpose…and of course…accomplishing much more.

 

 

Can Being Positive Help Grow Your Practice? SGLC 1

August 26, 2016

Short Guide to a long careerHello again! It has been a long time since my last blog post – and a lot has happened in the world. I promise not to give you any of my political opinions – that would be a short guide to a very short career.

In the meantime I want to let you know that the TAO of Dentistry is alive and well. I have been working on a new book project, and it has taken up significant time. I also published my third book, an e-book, that is available for free when you join the Academy of Dental Leadership. The e-book, A Short Guide to a Long Career is also the title of this blog post.

For those who have already downloaded the book, I will be discussing the 31 tips that get e-mailed to you every two weeks or so. There is so much packed into that little book that when I re-read it I thought I had so much more to say – and besides I would love to hear from the dental community on how to create a thriving sustainable dental career.

I have decided to add commentary to Short Guide to a Long Career, through a series of blog posts beginning with this one. The titles of the post will be numbered to follow the e-mails that subscribers receive.

As I mentioned, for the past months I have been writing another book on leadership and communication. I have also furthered my education in Positive Psychology. Those two things have added to my own perspective about creating a long sustainable career in dentistry.

Essentially the relatively new field of positive psychology comes down to helping people “live a life worth living.” It is about thriving and flourishing rather than just surviving and languishing. Positive psychologists work in all domains from the military to medicine to education. While studying positive psychology, I couldn’t help but think about the philosophy of Dr. L.D. Pankey.

For so many years I referred to what I learned at the Institute as a “philosophy.” That word isn’t very exciting. Dentists would fall asleep whenever I invoked words like “philosophy,” “virtues,” or “Aristotle.” But throughout history from Lao-Tzu and Aristotle to Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers, it’s truly only been about living a life worth living.

The positive psychologists have backed all of the “philosophy and psychological principles” up with real science. In other words – this stuff works–it’s real.

My book is about how to make your career in dentistry worth doing – long term.

Dentistry has changed. There is still plenty of opportunity in dentistry. Try to remember why you went into dentistry. No better yet…imagine the day you were born. Imagine what your parents wanted for you more than anything else. Now think about the day you leave dentistry…is there anything you will regret. This book is about helping you find what it is you want from your work in this field – yes it’s more than money. But achievement is there as well. It’s about Martin Seligman’s Well-Being Theory and PERMA—

Download the book…let’s discuss PERMA and well being through the comments below. Let’s also discuss the Commitment Equation.

Dentistry Then and Now

November 30, 2015

Filed under: Business of Dentistry,Leadership — Tags: , — Barry @ 2:30 PM

Unknown

 

In 1973, while in dental school I read the influential bestselling book, Working⁠ by Studs Terkel, the late Pulitzer Prize winning author.

In that book Terkel reveals a well-founded conviction, that our universal search is the one for meaning, the subject of Viktor Frankl’s classic book Man’s Search for Meaning.

Terkel calls our jobs a search as well; “for daily meaning as well as for daily bread, for recognition as well as for cash, for astonishment rather than torpor; in short, for a sort of life rather than a Monday through Friday sort of dying.”  The book is composed of interviews of people with many various jobs.  The common attribute in all of the interviews is “meaning to their work well over and beyond the reward of a paycheck.”

I recently re-read parts of Working.  I was particularly interested in the dentist, Dr. Stephen Bartlett who at that time had been practicing in a Detroit suburb for nineteen years.

The interview could have been done today.  Bartlett’s complaints about dentistry: that it was physically demanding (he stood all day and refused to change to 4-handed sit-down dentistry), that most patients were under stress, that he had to deal with cancellations and mostly that only he knew when he did a good job.

He also spoke about what  was appealing to him:  that he could practice dentistry as he liked (autonomy), that he had the opportunity to play a role in the lives of his patients by changing their appearance (meaning), that he was his own boss and could make his own hours.  I thought how similar the job is today…but like Viktor Frankl during his life—something happened…beyond his control…World War II.

In other words the landscape has changed. The human factors have remained the same.  Our jobs provide us with a sense of meaning and purpose.  No matter how much technology has made dentistry more pleasant…people still have fears and cancel.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Some might say, and I agree, that the sixties and seventies were the Golden Age of Dentistry.  It was a time when a dental practice offered as much autonomy as a dentist wanted.  It was the the ultimate in free enterprise.

We knew the score, graduate, specialize or open your own practice, hang up your shingle and go to work.  Easy-peasy.  If you were a people person, even better.  If not, no problem, just work some nights and weekends.

There have been many changes since those years.  The effect of insurance and third parties, as many dentists know, is not a simple equation.  Insurance has had the effect of lowering the standards and quality of dentistry by discounting fees and creating their own networks—no matter what the insurance companies tell us.

Pay peanuts—get monkeys.

Advertising may be the holy grail of the free market economy, but under the guise of “educating the public,” it has been abused to the point of bringing out the worst in dentists…and once again creating conditions that force (too strong? I know) dentists to work for less.

Then there is the economy and the shrinking middle class…and the expense of opening a practice.  Yes…there was a price to sitting down and doing 4 – handed dentistry, Dr. Bartlett.

Enough with the bad news.

There is good news—those things that appealed to Dr. Bartlett?  They still exist.  They’re timeless…and just like Frankl’s response in the death camps of WWII…it is up to us to respond to our present conditions.

It has become more difficult to practice with meaning and autonomy.  We must make our own meaning.  Leaders are meaning makers that is why I feel leadership needs to be emphasized in this profession.

 

Do You Do Emergency Crowns?

November 3, 2015

 

th-1

 

 

Everyday, all over the world, there occurs an opportunity to raise dental intellect.  In case you haven’t noticed there has been a shortage of dental intellect and that may be a big obstacle to achieving better dentistry.

I heard former Arkansas Governor and Republican Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee talk about curing the health crisis in this country by educating people about the chronic illnesses of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and Altzheimers.  He contends that by educating the public we will save billions of dollars in healthcare costs.  I agree…but it’s difficult when no one is listening.

Huckabee has an emotional stake in this cause.  He’s a diabetic.  His personal story about weight loss and diabetes is quite compelling.

I am a diabetic.  I have personal stake in controlling my health, and I do.  But not everybody takes their health that seriously.  That is why it’s up to the health professionals to act as leaders and communicate the importance of all health, dental or otherwise.

So, let me get off of my soapbox and explain how many dentists ignore this, by not taking the opportunity to communicate, educate, motivate (choose any word you like), and lead people toward better health.

Patients show up to dental practices everyday with urgent problems.  The emergency is generally pain, but it may include swelling, infection or cosmetic compromises.

In my practice I treat the emergency.  Even if I have a twp hour hole in my schedule…I treat the emergency.

After years of doing it this way, I am convinced it is the right thing to do.  I never do definitive emergency treatment.

In my youth I did.  I did emergency crowns, veneers, root canals, and even once I did a complete maxillary restoration.  Most of the time, all I did was create a short term relationship that never changed anyone’s long term heath, or attitude toward health.

Leaders understand the value of providing long-term value.  They have a different set of drivers.

This causes me to think about what is driving dentistry these days?  Who is driving dentistry these days?

I think that is a problem that effects the whole dental community, from patients to doctors and staff.  Short term thinking has long term effects (Strawberry shortcake anyone?)

Dentistry has changed over the last 50 years.  I wonder if this short term thinking had anything to do with it.

I used to call this single tooth dentistry, or body part dentistry…but it goes much deeper.  It’s a way of living.  A philosophy of practice and of life.

My solution?  When a patient comes in with an urgent problem…they are at their highest emotional level.  They listen because they truly have skin in the game.

What an opportunity!

Step back.  Take care of their felt need (not yours).

Use the opportunity to explain (this is a skill in itself) why dentistry is important.  They are all ears at this point.  You may not succeed with every new patient, but at least if enough dentists began to do a complete examination geared toward long term health—well that might just make a dent in the universe.

That is why I promote the complete examination for every new patient.  Sure it takes time…but time well spent for all concerned.  Help make the complete exam a standard operating procedure.  So many mistakes can be traced back to ignoring this one thing.

I think that is what Mike Huckabee means when he says chronic disease is our biggest problem.  We need leaders at every level…especially at the level of the health care professional.

 

.

 

 

 

 

 

The Martian – A Self-Help Movie?

October 27, 2015

th-2

 

I am a sucker for self-help books. I am not into the Kardashians, Dancing With the Stars or Entertainment Tonight, but put a self-help book in front of me and I’ll devour it in a day or two.  I have read them all – under the hope of becoming a better person, improving my business or my favorite…setting and achieving goals.

I am not alone.  Self-help books moved from a niche position to being a cultural phenomenon in the late twentieth century.  It is estimated to be an $8 billion a year industry in the US alone.

A self-help book is one that is written with the intention to instruct its readers on solving personal problems. The books take their name from Self Help an 1859 best-seller by Samuel Smiles.

Some respected psychologists like Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi have argued that self-help books will clearly not help people to become thin, rich and well-adjusted; indeed they will probably have no effect whatsoever.

Worse, some have claimed self-help books are actually bad for us by promoting ‘false hope syndrome’.

And that is what brings me to America’s first self-help movie, The Martian, Matt Damon’s new blockbuster that is drawing massive attention and attendance.

For many it’s a thrilling story, but for me, the sucker for self-help, it was another guide to goal setting.

I mean if his goal was to get back to earth from Mars (that’s 50 million miles), then what the hell, my production goals are a joke.  Take a look at that photo of him—all smiles and thumbs up.  Talk about having a good attitude.

Without giving away the plot (duh), I will attempt to point out some of the many self-help principles Damon used to get back to earth…principles that have actually guided me through my own personal journey.

  1. Be a life-long learner.  Commit to knowing your work as they taught me at the Pankey Institute many years ago.  Damon’s character was a botanist.  Think how handy that knowledge could be when you are stranded on a planet without water.
  2. Be a goal setter and monitor your progress.  These two go together because just setting a goal without understanding your deadlines and progress is just a dream.  Our film’s astronaut knew exactly how many days he had to get back to earth and how much rations he needed to get there.  The story really takes off when they have to figure out every component of his rescue was necessary.  As an author I can tell you that writing a book is nothing compared to getting home from Mars – so reaching your monthly production goals—piece of cake.
  3. Fail Forward.  Look, no one bats .1000.  Murphy’s Law is always in play, besides, what kind of movie would this be if nothing ever went wrong.  The key is to pick yourself up and use the failure as a learning experience.  It’s a good thing Matt was familiar with Thomas Edison’s lessons learned from inventing the lightbulb.  After failing 10,000 times he told a reporter he learned 9,999 ways it didn’t work.
  4. Be Persistent. Overcome Resistance and Do the Work.  Those three points may look like three separate lessons but they are all related.  Everyday we face resistance.  Our tendency is to put things off.  Damon could not…he was in survival mode.  He had to act with a sense of urgency everyday.  To me this is life’s greatest lesson.  The clock is always ticking.  Our job is to continue to move the ball down the field.  Most of us (and I mean our patients as well) don’ understand that without forward continual motion we get stuck.  Sure there is resistance—our job is to overcome it.  Calvin Coolidge said it best:

“Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

 

5. Have Fun.  Once again, as you can tell by the picture above, Damon continued to maintain a positive attitude throughout his mission.  Tough to do?  Sure, but attitude means everything.

6. Leave Your Legacy.  Once again, I won’t ruin the movie for you but understand that Damon had people on Earth that needed him back.  He becomes a mentor—a teacher—because in the end we are all here to pass the baton.

Enjoy the movie.  Hollywood has an agenda.  How else can we learn life lessons these days?  The Kardashians?

 

 

 

Related articles

The Most Annoying Man in the World

July 13, 2015

Filed under: Business of Dentistry,Self-development,Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Barry @ 12:51 PM

Bild1

 

 

 

Yes…that would be me.  Well I used to be a lot worse.  You see I am a devotee of hot Yoga.  I have been practicing at least three days each week for five years and I have reaped the rewards.

I want other people to take advantage of the same health benefits I have enjoyed.  So I push it.  Occasionally someone takes me up on it, but most of the time I hear reasons why they will pass:

“I’m not flexible, I can’t take the heat, Ninety minutes in a hot room, are you kidding?, How much?

I was being nice when I called them “reasons.”  But in reality those reasons are nothing more than excuses.  People don’t like making excuses, so they give you what they think are very legitimate reasons for not doing something.

That’s why I think I could really be annoying.

At the end of the day it’s the people who go to the gym, go to Yoga or participate in any form of physical exercise on a regular basis, that truly value their health.

They have placed positive meaning on their health...and my pushing doesn’t do a thing to change that…hence, I annoy them.

You would think, as a dentist, I would know that.  After all, who listens to more excuses than a dentist?

“My dog is sick.  Something came up.  I just threw up.  My car won’t start.”

Doctors…you’ve heard them all, haven’t you?

Nothing but excuses – or reasons why they can’t make it in.  The real reason?  They haven’t prioritized dentistry.

Does that surprise you…that anyone can’t find the value or meaning in taking care of their teeth?

Oh, do I hear you saying that they have a high fear or they can’t afford it?

Reasons!

At the end of the day they don’t get their teeth fixed.  Now don’t get me wrong I am not hardhearted about these reasons, and I never get angry when I hear them.  Even after a cancellation.

You see, these reasons are just an indication that some good dialogue is necessary.  I used to get upset…even angry…and that’s when I really was the most annoying man in the world.

Our culture loves reasons.  How about the reasons why people don’t want x-rays?  How many have you heard?  Or, forgive me…the amalgam issue…or the one about the hard pretzel breaking their tooth?

We love stretching the correlation implies causation issue don’t we?  It sounds so good…but in the end, just more reasons to believe their particular truth.

I used to argue…to no avail…and be labeled, yes...the most annoying man in the world.

No more!

I don’t used bullshit reasons in my own life…and I don’t get angry when people choose to use reasons to justify their behavior.

Dentistry can get quite emotional.  Destructive emotions like anger, frustration, guilt and inadequacy can truly ruin a good relationship.  People used to avoid me in the supermarket if they missed their last check-up.

No more!

These days I am much more likable.  Much easier to get along with.  And a funny thing happened….

Gandhi was right…he advises to be the change you seek in the world.

And you will attract people who share the same values as you do…people who truly value their health.

Try it…it’s quite calming

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Applying the Knowledge

July 6, 2015

Filed under: Business of Dentistry — Tags: , , , — Barry @ 10:28 AM

 

20121118-142114

 

Do you know where Cherokee Place is in New York City?  Don’t cheat by going to Google Maps.  Fifty years ago NYC cab drivers would sit around their favorite eatery, The Belmore Cafeteria on Park Avenue, and quiz each other on the little known streets in the Big Apple.

Cherokee Place is an alley between 77th and 78th streets between York Avenue and the East River.  The Belmore, by the way is long gone; it was a cab driver’s hangout made famous by Martin Scorsese in the movie Taxi Driver.  I know because I drove a cab while going to dental school.

My point is that cab drivers back then had to have a certain knowledge about the city’s geography.  That and a license to operate the cab, known as a medallion, were the only barriers to enter the field.  In London, cabdrivers have to take a test called “Appearances” to “Acquire the Knowledge” of over 25,000 places in that city.  That’s a barrier tho entry.

Today things have changed.

First there were 2 way radios, then gypsy cabs and those black cars would roam the streets, unlicensed, picking up passengers.  Today there is Uber and Google maps.  The barriers to enter the taxicab industry have all but broken down.  The prices for medallions are falling by the day.  All industries get disrupted…books, music and even healthcare.

In the cab industry guilds were formed to protect the independent drivers.  Taylor Swift recently spoke up about protecting artists.  In dentistry I wonder who or what protects the fee for service dentists who are seeing similar disruptions in dentistry.  And the forces are quite formidable.

Adam Smith one of the original framers of capitalism warned of “pirates” entering a marketplace for their own self-interests.  We have seen the age of dental insurance and now we beginning to see the age of the dental service organizations.  Corporate dentistry is moving quickly to become the predominant force in dentistry…as providers and educators.

Prominent practices owned by some of dentistry’s finest educators are being swallowed up by dental service organizations.  The smaller practices are being bought at discount prices and young dentists who have spent a fortune to become independent practitioners will soon have no choice but to work in corporate dentistry.

Who is protecting them?

Who is the voice of fee for service dentists?

Not the ADA.  Not dental schools.  Not the state licensing boards.

Really, they paid a heavy price to enter dentistry…in time and money.  Okay, I know that dentists will still be able to make a respectable income, but what about the ability to learn and grow through autonomy…doing the kind of dentistry they enjoy rather than selling out to corporate forces.

Really, what’s at stake isn’t money as much as it’s well- being, autonomy and independence—the real reasons for becoming a dentist.

Unlike driving a cab, dentistry is a complex job.  Today’s complete dentist must know more than “acquiring the knowledge.”  He must be able to “apply the knowledge.”  The application goes way beyond technical dentistry.  Today’s complete dentist must be expert in leadership, business and communication in addition to diagnosis, planning and treatment.  The dental service organizations will compete with economies of scale that the fee-for service dentist cannot match.

Cab drivers could not see Uber coming.  Dentists must learn how to become “Complete Dentists.”  The answer lies in the dental education system…training dentists to learn just how complex their job really is and applying that knowledge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dental Study Club Visits Lancaster

June 29, 2015

Filed under: Happiness,Self-development,Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Barry @ 12:28 PM

 

3 Knots

 

I am a big believer in study clubs.  Our club, the Three Knots Study Club has existed for ten years.  We meet yearly at a different location for educational and social reasons.

In the past few years we have fished the Everglades, explored the coast of Maine and hiked the hills of Asheville North Carolina.  This year one of our members hosted our meeting in Lancaster Pennsylvania…the heart of Amish country.
We certainly got a good look at how the Amish live…this trip was way beyond the typical tourist experience.

I had seen the pretzel factories, eaten enough funnel cake and shoo fly pie and sat behind many buggies in traffic to satisfy my curiosities but actually meeting and spending time with the Amish was a true learning experience.  It was truly a close up view into a culture that stands in direct contrast to the way we live in America today…and even without the modern amenities there’s a lot to learn from these quite progressive people.

Progressive?  Let me explain.  Everything is relative isn’t it?

The one thing that stood out while visiting the Amish farms and observing their family life was a great sense of moral responsibility and empathy for one another.  The lack of modern amenities blended in after a while.

What was really noticeable was the how they worked and related to one another.

Everyone working on the farms were craftsmen.  The animals were well taken care of, as if they were part of the family.  Mostly though what stood out was the care they placed in making sure everyone was taken care of…in the family and the extended family.

Progressive?  Or has the rest of society redefined progress as nothing but more and more material wealth, say as measured by the GDP (Gross Domestic Product).  When does it stop?

Of course the Amish aren’t the only ones who measure success by other standards than material wealth.  In Bhutan the new economic paradigm is Gross Happiness Product which uses natural and social capital values to assess the true costs and gains of economic activity.

I remember first being introduced to the Pankey Philosophy many years ago.  In the center of Dr. Pankey’s Cross of Life was three words…Reward…Material and Spiritual.  Through the years I continued to see our culture lose it’s balance with way too much emphasis on the material…at the total expense of the spiritual (if you have an issue with that word…think ephemeral or intangible—think purpose and gratitude).

As a matter of fact it was through Dr. Pankey’s original philosophy that I heard the term “moral obligation” in relation to dental practice.  It was a driving force in my writing my first book about the examination.

Morality and character are the drivers of a sustainable career in any profession…are we losing it?  Observing the Amish shows that we differ in more ways than air conditioning and electricity.

I am not suggesting anyone give up all material possessions…just to take a step back and realize that as an old movie title said…“The Best Things in Life are Free.”

This weekend we didn’t run the rapids in Montreal, see a Broadway show or ride horses in the Texas hill country…we just ate some really good home cooking and watched another way to live that could hold promise for our future.

 

 

Implants—Then and Now – Huh?

March 23, 2015

Filed under: Business of Dentistry — Tags: — Barry @ 12:36 PM

Screen shot 2015-03-16 at 12.36.12 PM Screen shot 2015-03-16 at 12.36.24 PM

 

It’s a tragedy when a person has to lose all of their teeth.  Sadly, there are many people who eventually have to face that situation.  There was a time when all of our efforts were directed toward prevention and keeping teeth.  That is is till the philosophy of most of us in dentistry, but due to circumstances many people still lose their teeth.

Economics plays a role these days.

Lucky for most of us we have a great solution: implants.

As they say, “We’ve come a long way baby.”

When implants first came to dentistry we were sort of limited in what we could do, but dentistry has figured out many ways to design implant cases so that today’s solutions are better than ever.  In the early days that wasn’t always true.

Take a look at Jim.  He had 8 implants placed twelve years ago.  On top of the implants, the dentist created a bar that was secured to the implants with eight individual two piece abutments.  That bar was screwed into place and a removable denture was placed on the bar...yes! I said removable denture.

Let’s take a time out.

Even twelve years ago the thought of implants meant teeth that stayed in the mouth.  That was and is the biggest selling point for implants.

So Jim had a removable denture secured on eight implants, using 27 components.

We’ve come a long way, baby (LOL).

Some years later the denture didn’t feel quite as secure as it did on day one.  As a fix the dentist placed those two little anchors that are sticking out of the photo on the bottom.

It never worked.

So Jim came to see us.  Our challenge was to give Jim a fixed restoration.  We didn’t need all 8 implants, but for the sake of not being wasteful we tried to use all of them.  Our goal—to make a fixed denture and reduce the components from 27 to 9.

The photo on the right is the result.

Difficult case?  Yes…lots of transfers and putting pieces together.  At the end of the day Jim was happy.

In all my years of practice I don’t think I ever had a happier patient.  For the first time in twelve years he could eat and not worry about his teeth coming out.

I know that sounds like some BS the denture adhesive ads tell us…but this is real.

After treatment he handed me a gift certificate to a local high-end steakhouse.  In retrospect, I should have treated him to the steak.

 

Older Posts »