A meeting, a photo, a trip for renewal

As I write this, I am enduring a heat wave in Chicago while attending the RDH "Under One Roof" dental meeting. This conference was organized by another one of PennWell Corporation's great dental publications, RDH.

As I write this, I am enduring a heat wave in Chicago while attending the RDH "Under One Roof" dental meeting. This conference was organized by another one of PennWell Corporation's great dental publications, RDH. With an excellent program, they attracted 350 hygienists and had to turn away many more because of hotel space limitations.

On a different note, I must clarify something! A couple of months ago, you received a supplement from Polaroid that was polybagged with Dental Economics. I am happy that many of you read and enjoyed the information it contained. I helped Polaroid put that piece together. As we were nearing the printing deadline, we were informed that some of the people in the photos had not signed releases for use of the images.

Time constraints did not allow us to track down these people and get signed releases. The simple solution was to shoot new photos and substitute them for the original ones. One of those new photos was a head-and-shoulders shot of me that was placed into a dental record with some existing intraoral images. Because of the deadlines and the short time frame, it never occurred to me that people would think the teeth in the images were mine!

I first became aware of the situation when I saw the finished piece, but I still didn't think anyone would connect me with the amalgams in the photos. Then the letters and emails began arriving! Most of them chastised me for not having my mouth restored. I was even accused of speaking out of both sides of my mouth by encouraging my readers to have their mouths restored to optimum dental health, while I had not done the same for myself.

Let the record show that the photos included with my headshot are not my teeth! I first had my mouth restored about 30 years ago with gold inlays and crowns. In the early 1980s, I had my upper anteriors aesthetically restored. Then, about three years ago, I had a full-mouth comprehensive restorative makeover that corrected my bite and made my teeth look like teeth again. So, please understand that I am no stranger to the dentist; my mouth is totally restored!

This summer, Sue and I were able to squeeze in a week of vacation with some dear friends of ours, Al and Peggy. They took us out on their boat to explore the Chesapeake Bay area. What a beautiful part of the United States! We had never been there before, and we were very impressed. We saw lots of sights and ate as much crabmeat as we could get our hands on. I learned the correct way to eat hard-shell crabs. We had crab salad, soft-shell crabs, mussels, fried clams ... I think I gained 10 pounds!

One of the sightseeing highlights was a tour of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. I spent two years as a Navy Dental Officer and have always been proud of my association with that branch of our armed forces. I was in awe at the training the midshipmen receive at the Academy. I have always thought that dental school required a commitment, but the men and women who graduate and are commissioned as ensigns have a depth of commitment that I have never seen before.

We watched as the plebes of the class of 2006 went through their six weeks of orientation. I thought that the worst thing I endured was a teacher crushing a wax pattern I had carved to what I thought was perfect. I watched as these young men and women dressed in silly-looking uniforms moved smartly from place to place. When they had a spare moment, they studied their black books of Academy history and information that they are required to speak quickly about when confronted by an upperclassman. You have to really want something to go through this kind of training! If you ever have the opportunity, be sure to visit the USNA. It will make you proud to be an American.

Thanks, Al and Peggy, for a trip filled with great stories, great food, and great hospitality. It was fun, and I am renewed!

Joe Blaes, DDS, Editor - e-mail: joeb@pennwell.com

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