Did you ever wonder why dentistry rarely gets a fair shake in the media (and I include Hollywood in there too). The Gallup pollsters have been reporting for years that dentistry is one of the most respected and trusted professions. Yet, that’s just not newsworthy…there’s no story there.
Tonight I participated in a panel discussion on HuffPost, the live streaming video of The Huffington Post. I thought long and hard how I wanted to represent dentistry. The moderator used leading questions and controlled the discussion. In my defense, I thought I did a pretty good job. As a forty year veteran of the profession I think I have seen dentistry from all sides.
Joining me on the panel were two disgruntled and distrusting patients who had bad experiences, a reporter who was on the team that brought us Dentistry for Dollars, produced by Frontline in June, 2012, and an insurance fraud expert. Obviously, the two patients told their tales. One was a “my dentist hurt me tale,” that most of us have heard before…and will probably hear again at the next wedding you attend. The other was a “he said I had 5 cavities when I never had a cavity before or since.” Okay…if I really wanted to make the profession look bad I am sure there are some pretty ugly stories out there, like the graft that failed, or I went in for a simple filling and left with a root canal.
George Kennedy said it best in Cool Hand Luke: “What we have here is a failure to communicate.”
The guy who really bothered me was the insurance fraud guy…I don’t know how many times he used the phrase “crooked dentists,” but I really started to take offense.
Dentists (as the Gallup Polls tell us) are really good, honest people. We are trying to do the same thing as everyone else—make an honest living and serve their patients as best they can. I believe that. I’ve met most of you at continuing education courses through the years. I’ve stayed up late discussing how best to treat your patients. I’ve seen you worry much more than many of my friends and neighbors who go to work at their jobs everyday.
Are there crooked dentists? Sure. Are there poor service stories? Sure.
Dentistry needs allies. We need groups and organizations that make us look a lot better than the way we are portrayed.
Here is a link to the HuffPost stream. http://live.huffingtonpost.com/r/segment/bad-dentist-practices/5182ac222b8c2a153d000299
I would really like to hear from you…get mad…get loud…express yourself.