664e1e4b62266f4d177370a8 Copy Of Rdh Editors Note 6

JUST a dentist?

May 22, 2024
Chief Editor Dr. Pamela Maragliano-Muniz shares her thoughts on the May 2024 issue of Dental Economics.

Growing up, even before becoming a dentist was a consideration, I remember hearing jokes about dentists, such as, “What do you call a doctor who can’t get into med school? A dentist!” (insert eye roll) And then, I distinctly remember on the first day of dental school, groups of students were forced together based on last name. My group was walking to the next class, and after a pause between the awkward "getting to know you" questions, one classmate said, “OK everyone, who’s going to admit that they are here because they couldn’t get into medical school?” I wanted to become a dentist so genuinely, I couldn’t believe that this sentiment was a real thing! Even though I was so proud to become a dentist, even I subscribed to this philosophy.

Being from New York and living in Los Angeles for my prosthodontics residency, I experienced many cross-country flights. Occasionally, a call for a doctor would be announced during a flight because someone was experiencing a medical emergency. As a new dentist at the time, I would half-heartedly offer my assistance, because “I’m just a dentist.” I figured that my help was better than no help, but nowhere near the help “a real doctor” could provide. Sentiments like this and phrases such as “anti-dentites” have become woven into our culture, it only makes sense that we are sometimes viewed as just dentists.

The reality is that people visit their dental professionals more frequently than their physicians. Moreover, there are many systemic illnesses that are exacerbated by oral pathogens present in biofilm. We have such a profound opportunity to influence the health of our respective communities and elevate our profession by advocating for improved oral health to mitigate the harm to one’s systemic health. I have personally experienced improved patient engagement, retention, and referrals with this approach. Additionally, I have found that dental hygienists are particularly motivated and engaged by practicing this way. Finally, this has positively impacted my bottom line. For these reasons, the focus of this month’s Dental Economics is oral-systemic health.

I hope you discover the benefits of emphasizing the oral-systemic connection in your practice. For me, there is no turning back! There are many resources to aid you in implementation, and the rewards are significant.

All the best,

Pamela Maragliano-Muniz, DMD

[email protected]

Editor's note: This article appeared in the May 2024 print edition of Dental Economics magazine. Dentists in North America are eligible for a complimentary print subscription. Sign up here.

About the Author

Pamela Maragliano-Muniz, DMD | Chief Editor

Pamela Maragliano-Muniz, DMD, is the chief editor of Dental Economics. Based in Salem, Massachusetts, Dr. Maragliano-Muniz began her clinical career as a dental hygienist. She went on to attend Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, where she earned her doctorate in dental medicine. She then attended the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Dental Medicine, where she became board-certified in prosthodontics. Dr. Maragliano-Muniz owns a private practice, Salem Dental Arts, and lectures on a variety of clinical topics. You may contact her at [email protected]

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