New technology, new dentists, and the importance of finding a mentor

Oct. 1, 2007
It is the middle of September and I am in my home away from home - an airplane seat.

by Joe Blaes

It is the middle of September and I am in my home away from home - an airplane seat. This seat is on one of the smaller and uncomfortable Embraer RJ planes. I am on my way to speak for a day and a half at the North Dakota Dental Association in Fargo.

Last month, I mentioned the KOL (Key Opinion Leader) meetings held by the various dental manufacturers. During August, I attended the Kerr Roundtable in Carlsbad, Calif. While attending these meetings, I try to put on the hat of the “average Joe dentist” when I react to new ideas and products. I try to reflect the opinion of the dentist who is at the chair every day, trying to do the best he or she can for the people that we all call “patients.” Sometimes, we struggle to make the various materials work right, and I try to get that message across to the manufacturers. Be sure to see my “Pearl” on the Demi on page 130.

Thanks to Kerr, I heard a fabulous presentation by Dr. Gregory M. Lutke, the owner of Dallas Dental Solutions. If you have any interest in dental photography, PowerPoint, improving your case presentations, or presenting, you must hear Dr. Lutke. I have never seen so many dentists taking so many notes in a lecture. I was on information overload afterwards.

I spent the last week of August attending the Dentrix Technology Summit 2007, sponsored by Henry Schein Practice Solutions. I must tell you that I was like a fish out of water at this meeting. I am not a technology geek by any means. I just know effective practice management systems are critical to a successful practice. I rely on experts like Dr. Paul Feuerstein, who writes for DE every month on the new technologies he encounters. During this meeting, I tried to stay close to Paul so I could ask questions. It was a great meeting, and I learned that Dentrix is another company that listens.

Thanks to my wonderful, understanding wife, Sue, I missed my wedding anniversary to participate in a two-day event at the 3M Innovation Center, located in St. Paul, Minn. 3M ESPE recently hosted members of the media, including PennWell® Corporation, who participated in a series of workshops and seminars featuring the latest in innovative research, leading new products and technologies, as well as a commitment to educational resources for the dental industry. Attendees were invited to experience the 3M World of Innovation, showcasing more than 40 core technology platforms used to develop the latest ground- breaking ideas for dentistry. Be sure to read my “Pearl” on Page 132 about the new Adper Scotchbond SE that was developed using these 3M technology platforms.

You’ll also find the annual Practice Survey on page 154 of this month’s issue. This year, I asked my good friend, Dr. Roger Levin, to use the resources of the Levin Group to analyze the results of our survey and write the accompanying article. I am proud of the article, and I think we have one of the best surveys available in the industry today. This is an issue you will want to keep as a reference for the coming year.

Earlier this year, we made a change to the New Dentist section in the magazine. My intention was to give current information to the dentist who is one to 10 years out of school to help him or her with the business side of dentistry. I need some feedback from these “newbies” to let me know if this section is hitting the mark or not. Is this the kind of information you need? Is this in a format that tells you where to go for this information? Do interviews of other new dentists help you? What do you need in your quest to become all that you want to be in dentistry? My e-mail address is at the end of this editorial.

Dentists often ask me what was the most important decision I made during my career in dentistry. My answer always is my decision to get a mentor. I made that decision during my junior year in dental school when a local dentist was a guest lecturer. He came to the dental school one snowy night in January. He talked about practice management and told an audience of 125 students to visit his office any time. I was the only one to go. It was one of the best decisions I ever made, as Dr. Roy Wolff became my mentor and a lifelong friend. The best advice I can give you is to find a mentor!

Joe Blaes, DDS, Editor - e-mail: [email protected]
Toll-free phone number: (866) 274-4500

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