Dr. Hugh F. Doherty, CFP, Clinical Excellence Editor
As a frequent attendee at many different dental meetings, I have become more and more aware of how difficult it must be for dentists who truly are in search of excellence to learn what is right from what is hype. There just is not enough time at most dental meetings to provide a full debate on important, controversial subjects, so conclusions about some of the most important clinical topics often are promoted by selecting literature that suits the clinician`s viewpoint. This would be fine if the profuse literature of the past 10 years were not so flawed. The problem is that almost any viewpoint can be backed up by selective use of literature that too often is written by academicians with little or no clinical expertise.
There are some notable exceptions, but, for the most part, the dental schools have not exactly been paragons of cohesive thinking. When dentists can graduate without a comprehensive understanding that both the TMJs and the teeth are part of the masticatory system, and when occlusion is taught with so little relevance to dental practice, it is no wonder that dentists who are committed to clinical excellence find it difficult to select a resource that is based solidly in both a clinical and a scientific protocol.
Fortunately, there is such a resource, and dentists from all over the world are singing its praises. The Center for Advanced Dental Study was founded by Dr. Peter Dawson in 1979 in St. Petersburg, Florida. The concept that brought the Center into existence was the premise that a multidisciplinary "think tank" was needed to bring together a cohesive approach for diagnosis and treatment of the full spectrum of masticatory-system problems.
I believe that there is no better laboratory for determining what works in practice than the experience of practice itself. At the Center, an interdisciplinary approach to diagnosis and treatment has been combined with a commitment to subject every opinion, every perceived result and every ingrained concept to the scrutiny of a scientific attitude. It is the kind of scrutiny that searches out the "why" for every observable problem . . . or solution.
To maximize analytical exploration across interdisciplinary boundaries, the Center has relied on a forum approach. The practicing faculty members constantly subject their clinical observations and their beliefs to the open scrutiny of the other specialists, with the major goal being to equate results with biological facts. The attitude is one of openness and exploration, and it is difficult to exaggerate claims of success when results constantly are critiqued by the other doctors. All faculty members are encouraged to stay current with a broad base of literature, and controversial literature is evaluated and debated on a regular basis.
Because practicing faculty members make a commitment to combine an active teaching effort with the everyday realities of private practice, the Center has become a major resource for continuing education that includes hands-on instruction in clinical and diagnostic skills. In addition, courses for dental technicians, office managers and lab assistants are extremely popular.
The mission of the Center for Advanced Dental Study says it all: "To search for the truth, to understand its rationale and then share what we learn." The enthusiasm of students at the Center indicates that it is filling a much-needed void for dentists who are in search of clinical excellence. Thank you Pete Dawson for providing such a place.
Dr. Hugh F. Doherty, CFP, is a national lecturer, consultant to the health-care profession, workshop leader, author, management and financial adviser and Certified Financial Planner. For further information, contact Dr. Doherty at 14 Cherry Court, Spring Lake Heights, NJ 07762, or call (908) 449-3225.