Editor's Note

Us vs. them: Who are “they” and are they really a threat to my practice?

July 25, 2022
The July 2022 issue of Dental Economics explores controversial topics surrounding often perceived threats to one's dental practice. The "us vs. them" mentality is natural, but are your fears valid?

Humans love to be part of something. We are pack animals, after all, and it’s human nature to be competitive for survival, status, social purposes, esteem, and fulfillment.1 It’s evident when watching a sporting event, and it’s no less apparent in dentistry. Spend a little time in social media groups and watch human nature at its finest: We might be a part of the group, but we are quick to criticize one another and stratify the group as members demonstrate superior clinical, photographic, or treatment-planning abilities when someone posts a case. There’s also an “us vs. them” dynamic among dental teams on social media: hygienists vs. dentists, general dentists vs. specialists, dentists vs. assistants, assistants vs. hygienists, and so on. I distinctly remember noticing undertones of this during my education, but as a middle child, I didn’t really think I would partake in this phenomenon.

Previous editor's notes: 

However, we see it all the time. Here are some real-life examples:

  • A dental service organization (DSO) purchases the practice down the street.
  • Dental lobbying groups vehemently advocate against midlevel providers and dental therapists.
  • The cost to acquire and keep your team is overwhelming.
  • You experience resistance from your dental team when you seek help from a consultant to tighten up systems.

I can’t help but wonder if the knee-jerk reaction to resist some of these scenarios is out of fear or legitimate concern that my practice will be negatively affected. This concept inspired this month’s issue of Dental Economics. I thought it might be interesting and impactful to delve into some of these topics, and perhaps present an opposing view. I know that some of you will read these articles, nodding your head in agreement, while others may completely disagree with the points of view of our contributors. Either way, I think these topics are worth examining and discussing.

One thing that seems universally challenging is the staffing shortage and the economic impact of the pandemic. It’s never been more important for us as practice owners to confidently lead, encourage, and empower our teams and prioritize the success of our practices. This isn’t easy for many reasons. Many of us feel stressed and may not be our best selves for our team and patients. Many of us are struggling to find valuable team members, and many of us are dealing with the obstacles of increased costs and diminished reimbursements. The 2022 Principles of Practice Management conference will address current challenges and provide practical solutions for our attendees. Opportunities arise from obstacles, and we have the opportunity to help our practices not only weather these economic and employment challenges, but to thrive. Join us on August 26­–27 in Nashville, Tennessee. You won’t regret it!

Best wishes for a successful July.


1. Maslow AH. A theory of human motivation. Psychological Rev. 1943;50(4):370-396.

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