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Private dental Facebook group etiquette: It’s all about JBN!

Jan. 1, 2019
This dentist enjoys taking part in closed dental Facebook groups. But he does not enjoy when his fellow dentists attack one another. Here are some of his ideas for dentists’ etiquette rules on Facebook.

The best way to start an article about dental Facebook group (DFG) etiquette is to channel modern-day philosopher, Jewel, who says, “In the end, only kindness matters.”

This is outstanding advice for life and for DFGs. But when I read through online forums, I can’t help but notice that many participants cannot adhere to what my wonderful first grade teacher, Mrs. Londoner, told us: “If you do not have anything nice to say, do not say anything at all.” Well, Mrs. Londoner, we need to have you moderate these Facebook groups because they have gotten out of control, and there should be a lot of dentists who have to stay inside for recess!

The past 18 months have seen the proliferation of numerous dental-related Facebook groups. Some of the pioneer groups include Tomorrow Tooth, RIPE, and Dental Hacks. Others are a bit newer, such as Dental Clinical Pearls, The Business of Dentistry, Nifty Thrifty, The Making of a Dental Startup, Dental Marketing & Profits, Dental Success Institute, and Dental Nachos.

It is an awesome time to be a dentist and on Facebook! The amount of information you can access from your smartphone while waiting at Starbucks (which I do) is simply amazing. I can check in on Dr. Lincoln Harris (RIPE) doing a soft tissue graft, Drs. Alan Mead and Jason Lipscomb (Hacks) sharing their latest podcast, and two dentists legitimately helping each other with a challenging office problem, such as, “Who took the last roll of paper towels?” It was Mrs. Peacock in the study with the wrench.

A true nacho enthusiast, Dr. Paul Goodman is the founder of

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What’s with the mean stuff?

However, there are two sides to every coin, two edges to every sword, a Catch-22 (you get the point), in that for every positive interaction there seems to be an equal and opposite mean and fighting reaction. Here’s a true story. I proudly posted an implant radiograph to a large DFG from a dentist whom I had just helped place his first implant. Lo and behold, in less than 30 seconds a dentist commented, “Why is it so short?”

The first rule of DFG etiquette is JBN (just be nice). Was that comment nice? No, it was not. It was an insult. The dentist who asked would probably respond, “I was just asking a question.” Yeah, a mean question! How could you ask that question in a JBN way? Let me suggest this: “Nice case. Placing implants is awesome. How did you decide on the implant size?” That’s JBN. That’s what promotes learning and sharing.

The second rule of DFG etiquette is that if you criticize a lot, then you should also share a lot of your own stuff. A radiograph was posted of a full arch implant case and a previously silent member of my group (again, a true story) commented, “That is the worst case I have seen on the internet.” We shared private messages and JBN talk, and to his credit, this person improved his etiquette and has become a productive contributor.

The third rule of DFG etiquette is, “Don’t talk about DFG.” (Sorry, I could not resist.) But this brings me to a modern-day person who would make Tyler Durden (Fight Club) proud for his enthusiasm and in-your-face message. However, the message of author, speaker, and internet personality Gary Vaynerchuk is one of active kindness. In his podcast, “Why kindness is the best business strategy,” Vaynerchuk shares why kindness is a true strength in life that will help you stand out from the normal “negative Nancy dental think.” The way I apply this to my dental group is by setting guidelines that say it’s cool to attack ideas, but not people.

Let’s just get along

We are all dentists. We are all stressed and annoyed. We are all trying our best. Let’s stick together with kindness. Yes, there will be disruptive interactions, but let’s keep them respectful and based on the idea and not on the person. A good tip is that if you are not sure about your comment, send the dentist a private message instead of pointing something out in front of 30,000 other dentists.

It’s easy to be hypercritical behind the comforts of our keyboards without knowing the whole story of a case. Instead, try the kinder equivalent of saying when no one is looking, “Hey, buddy, did you mean to wear that unique shirt with those pants?” I’d respond, “Thanks for asking. But all of my other shirts have nacho shrapnel on them.”

I would like to leave you with this from me, Paul Goodman, 41-year-old male who calls himself Dr. Nacho. We can be serious without taking ourselves too seriously. We can have fun without making fun of one another. And we can have nachos. In fact, how about inviting a fellow dentist you do not know out for nachos? It won’t solve everything, but dentists being nice and supportive of one another is a step in the right direction.

Go out of your way to compliment a dentist, whether it’s face-to-face or on Facebook. Do your part to create an environment of collaboration and supportive sharing. Start a conversation at a CE course with a dentist you do not know who is much younger or older than you. Instead of criticizing, ask questions about a case or technique. Listen to Jewel, my fellow dentist friends. She has the answer. Maybe someone can ask her about insurance reimbursement next.

Paul Goodman, DDS, owns two practices with his brother, Jeff, in Central New Jersey. He helps dentists evaluate practices to buy as well as helps sellers with their transition through United Dental Brokers of America. A true nacho enthusiast, you can find Paul enjoying nachos with his wife, Mary, and daughters, Drew and Daphne. Feel free to reach out to him at [email protected] or visit

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