A lesson from the quiet majority

It is interesting to observe how we compare our own dental practices to what is happening within dentistry in general. Over the years, my practice evolved and changed as I grew both as a person and as a dentist. Early on, the issues of behavior and communication fascinated me. As a result, I attended many hours of continuing education on these subjects.

Joe Blaes, DDS,

Editor

e-mail: joeb@pennwell.com

It is interesting to observe how we compare our own dental practices to what is happening within dentistry in general. Over the years, my practice evolved and changed as I grew both as a person and as a dentist. Early on, the issues of behavior and communication fascinated me. As a result, I attended many hours of continuing education on these subjects.

My practice began to change as my philosophy changed. I had a large practice with lots of families. I did a few "things" on a lot of people and kept them coming back frequently. The philosophy that evolved was to do more of the "things" that I enjoyed doing and refer the rest. Now the practice was doing a lot of "things" on a few people and it was thriving.

I tell you all of this as a preamble to saying that I thought that every dentist should have a practice just like mine. For the last few years, I have been saying that in my lectures and in the magazine. In fact, I tended to look down on what I call "run-and-gun" practices, the high volume practices that see a lot of people and do a lot of "bread and butter" dentistry. I was wrong! Many dentists enjoy this type of practice and are thriving.

Ever since the amalgam/composite debate earlier this year, and then Dr. Joe Steven`s "Viewpoint" on his philosophy, I have been receiving many letters and e-mails from dentists who have confirmed that they practice the same way and don`t want to change. In the August issue of Dental Economics, Dr. Paul Homoly talks about "quiet" dentists who have "bread and butter" general practices. They resent being told that they have to do a lot of the big restorative cases in order to be successful. These dentists do well financially, and they have the time to do other things that they enjoy as well.

For years, I went to seminar after seminar listening to the gurus because I was on a search for the answer. I felt that, when I found the answer, I would be a success.

Success in dentistry (or in anything we do) is realizing that no one has the answer for you. The answer is within you! I am going to change what I have been saying from the podium. There is not just one way to practice dentistry. Dentistry`s "quiet majority" has shown me that!

On a personal note, in mid-August, with great joy Sue and I welcomed our eighth grandchild, Richard Joseph. He is a healthy, happy baby - thanks be to God! I was able to meet my new grandson and spend some time with him while speaking at the Maryland State Dental Meeting in Ocean City.

In the past few weeks, I have once again been reminded of how fragile life is for all of us and how quickly our lives can be changed. A close friend of mine lost his wife after a long bout with leu-kemia.

Another close friend was just told that his wife has a recurrence of cancer that was treated a year ago. She has now started a new regimen of chemotherapy.

In addition, I was watching the late news one evening in August. The lead story told of a teacher being fatally shot on a mall parking lot midafternoon. When her picture was flashed on the screen, I realized that it was Joyce Belrose.

Joyce and her husband, Tom, and their four boys have been patients of mine for 25 years. We were good friends. Joyce was one of those people that you always enjoyed seeing. She always had a smile on her face and a good word to say for everyone. She had a deep and abiding faith.

Say a prayer for all of these good people and be reminded that life is not dentistry - life is your commitment to your loved ones.

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