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Reality Dentistry

August 7, 2013

AlokOnLake_t479There is a Zen story about a woman who goes to a calligrapher to have a painting made.  The Zen master interviews the woman to find out exactly what she is looking for.  He tells her to return in 3 months.

When she returns she is told that the calligraphy isn’t quite ready…he needs 3 more months.  She understands that he is a master and grants him more time, but she is a woman of some wealth and is a bit frustrated.  Three months latter she returns.

This time the master apologizes, saying that it is becoming quite difficult to complete the job.  He will need 6 more months.  The woman is close to pulling the plug, but she agrees to wait.

In 6 months, exactly one year from the time she made her original request…she returns.  This time the master leads her to a room where he is about to reveal the calligraphy.  The woman looks annoyed and says “What in the world could have taken so long?”

The Zen master opens a cabinet and out falls thousands of drawings of her calligraphy as he reveals the one master-piece.

My question is how realistic is it for us as dentists to try to mimic that level of mastery?  The answer lies not only in the commitment of the dentist but also in the patience of the clients.  The dentist must find the balance of providing the best he or she is capable of and the desires of the marketplace.

Of course, if the dentist chooses he can create a practice that concentrates on only those clients who expect the very best and are willing to wait for prodigious results.  Those practices exist.  Those patients exist.

But is that reality?

Dentistry, since the late nineties, has been portrayed to the public as a profession that caters to those patients who desire these exceptional cases.  And dentists attend courses that depict dentistry as something only worthy of masters.  But that isn’t what we see everyday.

We see patients who refuse to look at the crowns and veneers that we labored so hard to reach.  We see patients who come into our practices because of our outstanding reputation in the community only to reject the best dentistry.  As a lab owner I see dentists expecting the finest cosmetic cases without providing the best information.

There is a gap.

That gap leads me to the premise of this blog…trust, appreciation and ownership.

It proves to me what author Jim Collins said in his landmark book, Good to Great:  “First who…then what.”

A practice…a life… should be built on relationships.  Your success and happiness depends on it.  That’s reality….everything else…just talk.









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TAO -The Book Installment 2

March 7, 2010

Human Universals

I have certain fundamental beliefs about life. One

is that we are all alike at some level, and although the stories of our individual lives – our biographies – differ, our biology is the same. We share basic needs and wants. At various stages of our lives we must fulfill those needs. Humanistic psychologist Abraham Maslow described this evolution with his famous Hierarchy of Needs. At its base are the physiological needs like food and shelter. At its top is what Maslow believed to be our ultimate goal, which is to fulfill our true selves.
Maslow wrote, (more…)

The TAO – Introduction (1)

February 24, 2010


“Success follows doing what you want to do. 
There is no other way to be successful.”

––Malcolm Forbes

In March 2002, I self-published my book, The Art of the Examination. Drawing on my 30 years of experience as a dentist, I told the story of how I developed my philosophy of practice, how important that foundation was to my everyday work, and how the initial patient examination could allow patients and staff to understand your values, share in them, and benefit from them.
Since the publication of that book, I have been asked by many dentists to provide them with a more information about the examination process.  They told me that the book should be required reading in every dental school.   The TAO of Dentistry is (more…)