Dentistry not just a guy's gig anymore

Feb. 1, 2004
I am a big fan of Dental Economics. I read it cover to cover every month and usually find at least one Pearl in every issue I can apply to my practice.

I am a big fan of Dental Economics. I read it cover to cover every month and usually find at least one Pearl in every issue I can apply to my practice.

I do, however, take exception to the wording of one of the tax tips in John McGill's article, "Top 50 year-end tax strategies" in the December 2003 issue (page 54). Tax tip Number 23 states, "If you are a male dentist and your spouse does not work outside the home, employ her through the practice ..." Does this tax tip not apply to the female dentist whose spouse does not work outside the home? Although this situation is not commonplace, I am aware of practices where this is the case. In this day and age, one cannot assume that the doctor is male and the home caregiver is female. In the future, the articles should be reviewed to ensure that they are gender neutral.Melissa Bernhardt, DDS, MS
Des Moines, Iowa

Praise for Dr. Ron Jackson's Viewpoint

I just put down my latest edition of Dental Economics (December 2003) and I wanted to send you a note of praise for your article (Viewpoint, page 12). After reading Dr. Steven's comments (August 2003Viewpoint, page 16), I was quite disheartened. Having graduated in 2002 from the University of Maryland Dental School and in private practice for two years, Dr. Steven's article left a sour taste in my mouth. I actually began doubting what treatment plans to suggest and held back with a few. My main consideration was money. That all changed really quickly when a patient of mine who had seen porcelain veneers on "Extreme Makeover" asked about them. Let's just say that this was the last patient in the world I thought would want a $10,000 treatment plan! This was a really good lesson for me to learn so early in my career. I believe that making your patient the best consumer possible by laying out all the possibilities is key. What's the worst that can happen — they say "No"? At least you gave them the choice.

Thank you for giving me back some hope. George D. Garbis, DDS
Columbia, Md.

Accolades for Dr. Stephen Blank's Viewpoint

Dr. Blank, you are to be congratulated for joining the ranks of superior general practitioners who never stop being a student (Dental Economics, November 2003 Viewpoint, page 14). As the great L.D. Pankey would say, "The average dentist will always be the worst of the best and the best of the worst." It appears that this describes the dentist who wrote the best article on mediocrity for dentists that I have ever witnessed in my 51 years of practicing and teaching advanced restorative dentistry (August Dental Economics, Viewpoint, page 16). For the past 40 years, professor Lloyd Miller, one of my teaching colleagues at Tufts Department of Graduate Prosthodontics, was honored worldwide for helping all dentists to be the best occlusion and aesthetic practitioners they can be in a general practice. We are trying to get GPs (not just our graduate prosthodontists) to use semi-adjustable articulators with simple facebows and centric relation bite records to mount all diagnostic models on all patients. What a difference it makes for those who follow this magic plan without consideration of material rewards or fees.

According to L.D. Pankey, the definition of a professional is "One who uses his or her superior care, skill, and judgement for the benefit of another human being without any consideration of compensation or material rewards." Dr. Blank, if you wish, send me your mailing address and I will be very happy to mail some great information from the man who was called "The Dentist of the Century."

If he had read Dr. Joe Steven's article, I know exactly what he would have said — "Supervised neglect by one the 54 percent of graduates who just don't care about quality dentistry and don't want to pay the price to become a master dentist." You, however, have seen the light of day and as a constant student will join the ranks of dentists like Lloyd Miller, Marty Martel, Pete Dawson, our mentor Rob Stein, Raymond Contino, Alvin Fillastre, Frank Spear, John Kois, and one of my favorites, Gerard Chiche of New Orleans, and many more I could list if you would like. There are many of these masters I have met in my 51 years of practicing and teaching occlusion and aesthetic dentistry, and I don't ever consider the entrepreneurial whackos in our profession. I would love to debate these people and check out their own mouths. Dr. Blank, I also wrote to Dr. Ron Jackson about how wonderful Dental Economics is to present all views, and this 77-year-old just couldn't let this article get by because this has happened in the 1950s, '60s, '70s, '80s, and '90s — supervised neglect — and has not died yet! That is why the world-class L.D. Pankey Institute for Advanced Dental Education has been booked up for a long time with frustrated dentists who make a good living but are searching for happiness and peace.Frank P. Ursoleo, DDS
Associate Clinical Professor
Tufts University Department of Graduate Prosthodontics

A matter of trust

Dr. Blaes, I read your letter from a reader recently and it saddens me, too, that people don't trust us like they used to (November 2003 Dental Economics, page 22, first letter). Remember that article in Reader's Digest a few years ago, where the author took himself and his X-rays to a number of different dentists? He got recommendations ranging from a couple of fillings to a full-mouth rehab. Remember the uproar it caused among dentists? Remember how defensive so many dentists (and the ADA) got? I suspect that was because the article hit so close to home.

I, for one, wasn't a bit surprised at the author's findings. I hear all the time from new patients that they didn't trust their last dentist; that they were leery of his or her treatment recommendations. You can go to numerous offices in any city and experience the same thing.

All you have to do is read the dental magazines with all the emphasis on the million-dollar practices or the ones with 18 staff members (and amazingly high overhead). It's no wonder that so many dentists have bought into the "bigger is better" philosophy and have to produce huge amounts of dentistry just to make ends meet. I think this mindset is primarily responsible for our predicament. We need more dental gurus who are encouraging their colleagues to put the patient first. If that is really done, then service, not greed, will once again be the driving force behind most practices.Jeff Wilcox, DDS
Columbus, Ohio

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