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Wouldn't It Be Easier If..?


I have been practicing dentistry for 21+ years. As I go merrily, and not so merrily, along my life path I am constantly looking for ways to make my chosen profession better and easier. I suppose we could discuss at length whether better and easier is a worthwhile goal. In recent dental forum history, various pundits have discussed at length what our noble professional organization's meaning, purpose, and goals should be. I, being rather simple minded, as displayed so well on these humble pages, feel that the criteria for choosing our professional organization's paths should be held to a simple standard. Does, what the ADA decides to pursue, promote better and easier dentistry?

The ADA serves many important functions for our profession. The time has come for our organization to move another step forward. This step will make dentistry easier and better for both patients and dentists. This step involves ADVERTISING. Yes, that boogie man, the mystical pool table demon from the play "The Music Man". Yes, my friends that's how it starts--you start promoting your profession so that John Q Public actually is aware that tooth colored restorations exist, and before you know it the ADA will have a 900 oral sex hotline beamed right into ADA Chicago. You see one thing leads to another. We will loose control and with that will go the integrity of our ivory tower profession. But, Hey! Look around! The ivory tower is laying round us. Chunks have fallen and hit us in the head and landed on our feet. The towers have been attacked by government and insurance. They have succeeded, as all suppressing influences have throughout history , by the public's lack of information. I firmly believe, if the public has the true story, they can make a good decision. As of this writing, the public largely has heard one side of the story and is missing many of the stories.

Well who is to blame. Of course--we are! But let's not be too hard on ourselves. After those ivory blocks hit us in the head a few times we are starting to wake up and realize we need to do more to educate the public. Reality begins to hit home when our patient whose mouth will totally fall apart in a few short years unless they spend $5,000-6,000 for some major work decides to not treat his or her condition. WE, and I emphasize WE, know that with this work and some home care his or her mouth will serve them well for the next 30 years. Instead of investing in some dental care that will benefit them all day every day, they decide their mouth is not that high of a priority. What are their priorities? Why, you know the answer! A new car that costs them 8,000 per year and falls apart in 6 years. A couple of pairs of Nikes a year. Satellite TV at $450 per year. Etc. etc. etc. ad infinitium. All possessions they have been educated (some may say brainwashed) to feel they must have. Their choice for not committing to proper dental care is not based on cost (at least for the typical American) but based on perceived need. These choices are made without proper education about the benefits of proper dental care.

So WAKE UP GOOD OLD BOYS!!! We have to join the 20th or at least the 21st century. In order to compete with these other (so-called) "needs", we must use the educational tools available to us. Let us not continue to tie our gloved fingers together and rely solely on one on one education of our patients. Not only is that method terribly inefficient, but it leaves out, totally, the 50% of the public that doesn't visit the dentist.

How exactly should we educate? Some ideas that I can quickly list: encourage dental manufacturers to develop educational materials for schools, ADA TV advertising, print, Internet, telephone information help-line. We need to use mass media to educate the public about fee for service, treatment options, non treatment results etc. etc.

Wouldn't It Be Better And Easier If..?

I could go on and on. In fact, this is getting so appealing, I may just flip out to fantasy land for awhile. See you all next month.


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