While I am passionate about issues that affect the quality of our lives globally, I have little time for the bickering that goes on between our political parties that is unproductive and doesn’t create solutions for people. One manifestation of this phenomenon is the politician who does not tell us what he or she is going to do. Instead, the politician only attacks his or her opponent. The politician’s tactic is to smear, rather than build, instruct or inform. Unfortunately, this tone - to some degree - has crept into endodontics. This tone has occurred in lectures and some of the journals we read. Who, when, why, how, and for what reasons are not necessary to detail. But, suffice it to say, that - more than I would prefer - I read material I know is blatantly biased and unfairly critical of products, ideas, techniques, methods, and individuals. For example, poorly done studies might easily have a sound bite edited from them, and that is placed into product advertising. This information is presented as gospel fact. Such studies often are based on faulty methods, or are poorly conducted by individuals with little or no experience with the given material and technique studied. The general dental public and/or endodontic specialty, while savvy and experienced, cannot possibly read every nuance of every journal to know which sound bites are credible and which are faulty. What is sad about this is that such biased critics and cynics often argue for a world that they contend is “flat” (the “old” way is better because new materials and techniques might alter the economic status quo), when new products and ideas that could advance endodontics must overcome a new obstacle - the smear tactics of vested interests.
In addition, what about speakers who advocate products they don’t use in daily practice? I want the speakers I hear to share my struggles in daily practice and understand the challenges I have. I want them to show me how the materials they advocate will solve the issues I face. I don’t want an infomercial about how a given product is the “answer” when the speaker is not returning to the office on Monday morning. I am a full-time endodontist. If I speak on a Friday that means I have worked on Thursday, departed on Thursday night (often on a “red-eye” flight), and returned to my office on Monday morning. The content of my lectures is an amalgamation of my experience, literature, my failures, successes, and practical methods to achieve a predictable result. In short, I present a method that has evolved, is practical, reproducible, and has brought me long-term success. Besides this, I believe I can justify my findings with endodontic literature. I am not told what to say by any manufacturer nor am I influenced in any way to say anything that I do not truly believe or to advocate a product that I do not use. I have refused to speak for companies who have tried to do just that. My approach is in direct contrast to those speakers who are told what to say, and are handed canned presentations that require them to promote products that they don’t use currently on patients.
Besides what I have just mentioned, what about those individuals who use inaccurate and biased sound bites while talking about competing products disparagingly when they do not have any practical clinical experience with the given materials? In my opinion, it is simply dishonest to advocate one method by attacking another. I want the speaker to tell me, truthfully, why his or her method is more effective. In doing so, I want him or her to quote accurately the literature (cite flaws in studies in addition to what was done well), and also not to quote unpublished material or material that is not published in a reference journal. To present, as fact, any material that has not been open to public scrutiny in endodontic literature is simply misleading. Raising awareness of this issue only can serve to improve our collective dental futures on a global scale.
As always, I welcome your comments and questions.
Dr. Richard Mounce is in private endodontic practice in Portland, Ore. Dr. Mounce is the author of a comprehensive DVD on cleansing, shaping, and packing the root canal system for the general practitioner. The material also is available as audio CDs and a Web cast pay-per-view. He lectures worldwide and is a widely published author. For more information, contact Dr. Mounce via e-mail at comfort@MounceEndo.com. Visit his Web site at www.MounceEndo.com.