Dentist Attempts to Stifle Critical Comments

Here’s an interesting article about a dentist who had patients sign agreements not to put disparaging comments on social network websites. http://onforb.es/wboJQW It’s a clever idea that will likely cause more negative publicity than had the dentist simply tried to resolve the patient’s problem. Now it’s a freedom of speech issue. This is a hard thing to swallow for any of us, but we have to be settled with the idea that some people will not like us. Certainly we should do everything we can to resolve conflicts and negative publicity, but there is a point where we are best off to let it go and trust that people can sense when someone is being unfairly criticized. I am not advocating passivity when it comes to negative publicity but instead of trying to squelch negative comments, I think it is always best to promote honest feedback and then respond to it, good or bad. This shows people that you, the dentist, are engaged and take the feelings and ideas of others seriously....

What Policies Do and Don’t Do

If you and I agree on everything, one of us is irrelevant. There is a form of politeness and civility that wrecks relationships. I’m not talking about any liberty to vent or be mean. I’m talking about being so careful not to hurt someone’s feelings that we don’t say what needs to be said. True care for another’s best always involves honesty, even at the risk of being misunderstood. As dentists and business people we have obligations and personal positions. To pretend to be totally altruistic in our actions is phoniness to the core. When others do this to us, we see through it in the same way we see the one guy who decides to go to the university football game, sit on the home side and wear the other team’s colors. In a way, this gets back to my falling off the mountain. Because I was too polite, I permitted the problem of clashing skis to continue. I might have said, “I’m having trouble here, do you think you can help me?” Perhaps he thought the best way up the mountain was to lock our middle skis together. Who knows? We were too busy talking about other really non-essential things to have that important conversation. I’ve gotten some push-back on the policy I wrote on appointment management. The best comments back (and they were in private, which is how it is usually best done) were the hardest to read, but they are the ones that make us think deeper about issues. Part of the difficulty was actually around who would be reading the policy and what the...

Questions about Water Fluoridation

Both sides of water fluoridation are passionate. One side believes it to be one of the ten most important public health advances of the 20th century. http://1.usa.gov/xM8jsl This group includes organized dentistry, politicians, and public officials. On the other side are a few concerned scientists who somehow have the courage or the protection from political fall-out to take a minority position in a public health matter. In addition to these scientists there is also a large group of people who tend to not trust authority of any kind. They, in fact, make it more difficult for people on the opposing side to want to ever change, because they don’t want to be identified with these anti-everything groups. For a good summary of the argument opposing public water fluoridation I recommend you read “50 Reasons to Oppose Fluoride.” http://bit.ly/yquYHE The sections I quote below are from this article. As I was attempting to determine if putting something in the water is a good idea or not, I thought it best to start by creating a logical series of questions. And I started with what I think is the most important question followed by the next most important and so on. This, to me, is the best way to cut through political fog and most efficiently arrive at a comfortable decision as to which side to support. Question #1: Which side has the burden of proof? Does the health benefit reducing tooth decay equal the risk of placing a substance that is a known poison at higher concentrations into public water systems? Most rational minds consider safety more important than possible...

Battling Bad Science

Good science is hard to do. When done well society trusts and uses it for the good of many. Then others come along and misuse science and the credibility it has earned in order to trick people into buying things. This is more than annoying because sometimes it results in people trusting their very lives to flawed drugs and procedures. This video is excellent in explaining the problem. Note that the first way people trick others in science is by the use of credentials. Remember, it doesn’t matter how many letters behind anyone’s name, science stands or falls on experimental...

Dentist Celebrates Octogenarians with 20 or more Teeth

Periodically I try to get away from topics about teeth, periodontal disease, dental implants and instead just look into the news and see what’s happening in the world of dentistry. Scrolling down Google News past the indictments of dentists and the tragic stories of dentists involved in fatal traffic accidents, I ran across this one. It’s about a dentist who celebrates with octogenarians who have twenty or more of their natural teeth by putting on a banquet for them at his local country club. May his tribe increase! http://bit.ly/nmD1Ql People who retain strong teeth into their 80’s and beyond have a much better chance at a longer and healthier life simply because they are able to eat better than those who use dentures. The chewing effectiveness of dentures has been measured to be between 10 to 15% that of natural teeth. Dental implants are a way of helping people move into stronger teeth. Well, look at this, I thought I wasn’t going to talk about teeth and dental implants. Sorry about that. It just happens...

Dentist Sued by Ex-Assistant over Cruel Behavior

I have linked to an interesting article out of the Santa Fe New Mexican about a dental assistant suing her employer. She worked for him for over five years before writing the letter that got her fired and him a law suit. No matter how you slice it, it’s a lose/lose situation. http://www.santafenewmexican.com/Local%20News/Ex-assistant-sues-dentist-over–cruel–behavior The dentist looks terrible to the public (who wants to go to a crazy dentist?) even though he may one day be able to clear his name legally. If the assistant hasn’t already gotten another job, this may scare away other potential employers from hiring her. Here are some of my thoughts. Never demean or embarrass others in public – not your boss, your spouse, your employee, your child, a patient… nobody. If you think you can get away with it, you’re delusional. Angry people sometimes couch their hostility saying mean things in a humorous and light way. They do this in order to make it more difficult for the other person to defend himself. If he tries, obviously he can’t take a joke. Employer, take your responsibility seriously to train and encourage the team. You set the example for the office – good or bad. This dentist’s actions certainly didn’t result in good actions by the assistant. Employee, if you have a bad employer, quit immediately, don’t hang on for five years. What did she really think she was going to accomplish writing a letter to a dentist who has demonstrated he does not respect her opinion? Writing a letter does not change the employer/employee relationship. He is still the boss and she is still the...