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Cui Bono? Who Benefits?

August 13, 2013



What did our dental forefathers know about professional advertising that we don’t know?  How did they know that dental advertising would be bad for the general state of the profession?

That’s a bold statement, and I am sure that there are many among you that would disagree.  I certainly understand the argument of free market capitalism, but there are many unintended consequences when people are looking out for number one.

Let start by saying that I am not an advertising dentist.  I have advertised during my forty year career…but never really experienced a positive cost-benefit ratio.

Let me also say that as a blogger I have written a few posts that didn’t put dentistry in a positive light.  

I try very hard not to do that because I truly love the profession and know how important it is to maintain the public’s trust.  That is why I find that some advertising belies that trust.

In a recent issue of the very popular Self Magazine, a periodical devoted to health and beauty, there was an article written to promote the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.

The article is a splendid example of great writing…copywriting.  The purpose of the article is to promote the Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.  I applaud the author.  She did her job well.

I only have one criticism…but it’s a major one.

She threw dentistry under the bus.  The article centered around what could go wrong if the patient is not in the hands of a competent cosmetic dentist (implied as a member of the AACD).  Unlike the publicity that the TV show Extreme Makeover brought to the world of cosmetics (all positive), this article focused more on the negative aspects of dentistry which could cause some readers to lose trust in the profession.

Just the headline and the first sentence explain what I mean:

                                                                                                                                               When Beauty Bites

“The latest quest for pretty: a perfect smile. But get the wrong dentist and you could wind up with Chiclets for teeth, pain and mega debt.”

You may pooh-pooh that thought but human psychology supports my claim.

There were studies done during WWII on the efficacy of propaganda.  What psychologist Carl Hovland, who led the study for the War Department found was that initially soldiers knew they were reading propaganda…but over time the influence increased.  He called this phenomenon the sleeper effect.

Basically the reasoning is that in time the source of the argument fades over time but the message fades slowly and even endures.  So even if the soldiers recognized the material as propaganda from an distrusting source the message remained.  But you may say that what was in Self magazine wasn’t propaganda.

That depends on how we define propaganda.  It is derogatory information that serves to promote or publicize a cause or point of view.  We see it used in politics a lot these days.

We also see it used in advertising, because it emotionally engages consumers.  But the message that remains here may not be the one that is good for dentistry in the long run.

There is a fine line between ethical advertising and propaganda…the AACD may have crossed that line and Self Magazine along with it.   Maybe the publishers of Self should rename their magazine to Self-Interest Magazine.

In the meantime maybe I will start a new publication and call it Think Magazine.


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Is AADPA Dentistry’s Last Great Hope

March 11, 2013

Filed under: Business of Dentistry,Ethics — Tags: , , — Barry @ 1:36 PM




I just returned from this year’s American Academy of Dental Practice Administrator’s Meeting in Las Vegas...or AADPA for those who know.

AADPA is an organization that I became affiliated with over ten years ago.  I have met and maintained friendships with many wonderful dentists there.  This year’s meeting was one of the best ever…mainly because the attendance was up and I realized just how much more necessary AADPA is now.

The organization started in the sixties and dedicated itself to practice management and leadership.  Yes, there is some “shop talk” there, but mostly the speakers and the breakout sessions are concerned with the issues that help private practitioners really create successful practices.

AADPA is a haven for dentists that take courses at the Spear Institute, The Dawson Academy and the Pankey Institute.  Likes attract likes, or where great minds meet.  But seriously, in tough economic times and with market forces effecting dentistry more than ever, leadership is what is separating dental practices.  A dentist who lacks leadership skills will probably not be able to compete in the future.

That is a bold statement...but for the past sixty years a blind squirrel could have practiced dentistry…yes, that same blind squirrel that sometimes finds an acorn.

I am here to tell you that dentistry is changing.  It’s changing because the same forces that closed down “mom and pop” hardware and pet stores are now changing the medical and dental fields…and only the best dentists will be able to continue to maintain the old highly intimate way of practice.

That is where AADPA comes in.  There is NO OTHER organization that I know of that addresses the business and leadership issues.  There are coaches and consultants but most have their own self-serving methods and ideas.  AADPA is a place to come to compare what really works and what doesn’t.

I would make this a stop on your calendar for next year—and hopefully if enough like-minded dentists begin to rally—we can save organized dentistry.


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10 Things Your Dentist Doesn’t Want You to Know

January 5, 2012

About a month ago there was a blog post that got a lot of attention.  It was titled 10 Reasons Your Dentist Probably Hates You Too.  It created quite a stir and wrote a post that I called 10 Reasons Why My Patients Love Me, in response.  The author of the first post wrote it with her tongue firmly planted in her cheek, and I wrote my response to sho

English: Street dentist in Bangalore with a pa...

Wild Wild West Dentistry

w that our profession needs more relationship building in an age where the professions have tipped toward business rather than health car

What is the truth about dentistry these days?

There are many ways to practice dentistry.  Every dentist is faced with the problem of balancing the paradox between duty and desire...the desire to live a great life and the duty to be a great dentist.  We live in a material world and as much as we claim that less is more…so many of us still want more.  Yet I truly believe we also want to to find meaning in our dentistry.

It gets confusing for the dentist as he tries to earn his daily bread in an age where the business of dentistry is like the Wild Wild West.

I try to practice in a manner that helps balance the paradox…some might call it “business ethics.”  I am truly bothered when I see the breakdown of ethics in our profession…so I give you these things that I see some of our colleagues doing on a fairly regular basis…that I think patients, and the powers that be should know about.

  1. Your  dentist sees you as a profit center rather than a patient.  Everyone gets the business thing.  Football players tell us this all the time…but this is health care and an ethical dentist MUST put the patient first.  That is the real definition of professional.  Dentists who do this usually relate everything to the “time is money” philosophy.  They usually run behind and are over-scheduled.
  2. Your dentist just took a weekend course in an advanced surgical technique—-and you (more…)
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