I am writing regarding Dr. S. Mark Hong's recent article, "Power dressing for the dentist" ("Viewpoint" Dental Economics, June, Pg. 16). Being a relatively new graduate myself (Baylor College of Dentistry 1998, AEGD at Baylor in 1999), I can understand your concern with patient perception regarding appearance and how that relates to office image and case acceptance. I, too, have found that wearing a white lab coat, while having a negative connotation for some patients ("white coat syndrome"), has helped me with my professional image. This is especially true for older patients who are the age of my parents and grandparents and who, coincidentally, have the most significant dental needs. I also agree that personal hygiene is important for one's image — no one wants to see a doctor with dirty fingernails or "dreadlocks" hanging out of his nose!
As for the rest of your suggestions, to recommend that other dentists wear a certain type of clothing of a certain brand that costs "X" amount of dollars and to have regular facials and manicures is naïve, pretentious, and has little to do with developing quality relationships. Does our profession really want to use attorneys and bankers as our role models for "Power Dressing," especially in light of the public's perception of these professions?
The type of dress that works well for you and who you are in your practice and where you are located may be a total failure for those who are not into name-brand, designer clothes. They may feel uncomfortable if that is not who they are. For these dentists, this "image" you talk about would be just that, an image.
I strive to develop meaningful relationships with my patients, inspiring and empowering them to achieve their desired wellness. I have found that integrity in living and practicing what is in my heart through what I do, say, and the way I present myself has been how I develop such relationships. This, along with taking the time to listen to patients (as described in Dr. Paul Homoly's Isn't it Wonderful When Patients Say "Yes!") has been extremely successful for me in motivating patients to pursue comprehensive dental care.
My basic guidelines for "Power Dressing" are to be clean, and to be physically, mentally, and emotionally comfortable in what you wear and how you present yourself. Simply put, be hygienic and true to yourself and the rest will come together naturally.
Darin J. Ward, DDS
No shame in "conventional" dentistry
I realize that in a publication such as Dental Economics, articles on adhesive dentistry are meant to inspire us or to inject some enthusiasm into our practices (July, "The wonderful world of adhesive dentistry" Pg. 46). Unfortunately, I'm afraid that most dentists perceive it as a "knock" on the way they do dentistry. The fact is that most of us do amalgams, composites, PFMs, veneers, root canals, restore implant cases, and also work on children. In other words, we do a little bit of everything.
Why? We do it because that's what our patients require. Not everyone can afford the extra fee for direct composites on posterior teeth. I offer it to everyone, but as mentioned in the articles, they take a little longer to do and the materials are much more expensive, so the fee is higher. Also, most of us have done some veneer cases and have seen the veneers fall off, only to be replaced with a crown later. Why do we never hear of the case failures?
My patients are thrilled the day we place cosmetic work. The question is, how many are still thrilled after having a veneer replaced for the third time? I would like to know how many veneers are replaced and if the veneer fee is artificially high because of the failure rate. The technology for all-ceramic crowns has not been perfected, so we are still dealing with crown fractures.
The fact is that dentists like Dr. Pescatore are free to become aesthetic dentists because the rest of us are doing the nuts-and-bolts work. I'm glad that the dentists who contribute to Dental Economics have felt bold enough to step out and become aesthetodontists and I'm sure many others will be inspired to do the same. However, the rest of us should not feel ashamed for simply incorporating some of those techniques into our conventional offices. Serving tea or offering hot towels or only doing cosmetic work does not make anyone a better dentist. Like the latest and greatest dental product, it only makes one think they are.
Dr. Henry Rosenberg
Sandy Roth's "No Drama"
Sandy Roth made some great points in her "No Drama" article (Dental Economics, July, Pg. 88) on disastrous communications scenarios in the dental office. I doubt anyone has escaped the occasional "incident," even in the most harmonious practice. In the 10 years since I left dentistry, I have studied human behavior in my endeavor to help institute better communication skills among healthcare workers.
Sandy's examples are noteworthy. Her guidelines are true. But they don't have a lot of "how" behind them — how do you not display your frustration? Repressed frustration percolates into something worse. How does a "drama queen" not be a drama queen? In many ways, it's like asking a border collie to not herd sheep. You can ask all day long; it just isn't going to happen.
I have studied transactional analysis for five years and, most recently, the work of Dr. Marshall Rosenberg. I fully understand innate shifts between levels of emotional maturity. To help dentists better understand it amongst their employees, I encourage them to read a dynamic book titled Growing Yourself Back Up, by John Lee. No single book more succinctly clarifies these "age regressions" that are often at the core of the drama. The book is short and an easy read.
When I wrote the first Dental Analogies in 1994, I quoted Julian Jaynes, who said, "... the feeling of familiarity is the feeling of understanding." By familiarizing oneself with the issues and their causes, the understanding emerges. I believe that John Lee's Growing Yourself Back Up finishes the story Sandy Roth began.
On that note, I must admit that I loved my border collie a lot more once I knew why she was so intense!
Dr. Rick Waters
Did you know?
Past articles — from 1998 to the present — are available in text format free of charge at www.dentaleconomics.com.