I Prefer to be Naïve

This August, I am going to be attending the World Congress of Minimally Invasive Dentistry. The WCMID is a group of dentists who are dedicated to serving the needs of their patients incorporating some of the cutting edge technology of dentistry to provide conservative and predictable dentistry. It will be my third straight year of attending and I am looking forward to another outstanding slate of courses for me to learn and share with my patients.

As I prepare to attend I am reminded of an encounter I had at the first meeting I attended in San Francisco. After finishing her presentation I had the opportunity to talk with Dr. Rella Christensen, who is one of the top researchers in the world when it comes to dentistry. In the course of our talking I let her know how I felt that organized dentistry did not do enough to promote prevention. It was my feeling that just because patients are not compliant we should still keep teaching and preaching prevention, and how glad I was to find the WCMID because this is where they are heading towards. Dr. Christensen in her response told me I was “Naïve”, that patients won’t do it just because of all the benefits it provides.

Flash forward to a few weeks ago when I read a letter from a dentist in one of my journals that I receive. The dentist tells about a conversation that he had with a cardiovascular surgeon about preventive cardiac care and the surgeon basically replied that until someone invents the ‘exercise and healthy diet’ pill he will keep cutting people open. His point was that you can’t change people..they want easy answers not lifestyle changes. Once again, the behaviors of the patients dictate their needs and the surgeon has embraced this and tends to their needs.

Personally, I spent some time with another dentist some years back. I was letting him know that I felt there was much more that could be done in his practice in regards to education and preventive dentistry just in his practice. I thought the sincerity of really caring about the patients would roll out into the local community and make it a magnet for patients who care about their health to come to for their dental care.. His response just floored me, he basically said I tell them to brush and floss once, if they don’t do it that’s what he is there for…to fill and drill

What it all boils down for me is that I know that prevention is the only way to keep ourselves as healthy as possible. There is no short cut to eating well and exercising (certainly surgery is not an acceptable shortcut). Yes, it takes time to brush and floss your teeth, but there is no shortcut to oral health either. If my choices are to be a drill and fill dentist (like the dentist I describes above) or a naïve dentist who actually hopes he can make a small difference in someone’s life…than I would rather be NAÏVE all the time.

To your health

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