Speaking from experience?

July 1, 2004
What is it with all the factions and camps that exist in dentistry? After all, aren't we after the same end result? We want health for our patients while providing answers and results for their wants, right?

Matt Bynum, DDS

What is it with all the factions and camps that exist in dentistry? After all, aren't we after the same end result? We want health for our patients while providing answers and results for their wants, right? If a patient is in pain or discomfort, our job is to eliminate or greatly decrease it, correct? Well, if that is true, then why do we battle each other in areas that provide results and treatment for our patients?

I am so tired of hearing how one "expert" opposes another "expert" in this profession. The mudslinging begins, opinions are set, and rumors and divisive words soon follow. I realize everyone is different — and the greatest thing about dentistry is that there is never just one way to do anything — but I find it childish and unbecoming when we divide ourselves without knowing what the "opposition" touts.

Let's take the hottest topic to re-emerge in dentistry in the last 100 years — occlusion. Now, I am a trained and practicing neuromuscular dentist. That's right, I said the NM word. So what? Why does this term cause so much reaction among our profession? Within the realm of occlusion, there seems to be several camps and factions from the West Coast to the East Coast. In regard to centric relation, NM, FACE, or any other philosophy, I believe there should be no spreading of opinions or rumors without proper knowledge of a subject. It amazes me to see the reactions on faces over such philosophical differences.

I was trained in CR during school. I carried my bible — the one written by Okeson — to and from class and home for four years at The University of Iowa. I studied under knowledgeable prosthodontic instructors who explained what and how to attain the position of CR. After graduation, I went into practice and joined several study clubs that attempted to explain the dynamics, positioning, and attainment of CR. I found it interesting that almost everyone who tried to teach me "the way" had a varied opinion, technique, and end result for what he or she interpreted CR to be. That confused me.

I began to see patients in my practice who were seen by "experts" and who were having problems with pain and discomfort. It seemed odd to me that the majority of those people recalled having been equilibrated and having had their jaws "grabbed, pushed, and manipulated," as one patient referred to it. After years of trying, I couldn't find what CR was, and neither could those supposed "experts." After all, they were fighting among themselves. So I searched for something to help answer my questions and — more important — to help my patients with their discomfort. I turned to neuromuscular dentistry. I began to realize there was something that could help treat my patients. Soon after implementation of the techniques and philosophies, I began seeing resolution of symptoms pertaining to teeth, jaws, and people as whole individuals. It relieved symptoms that even medical professionals could not relieve. That was four years ago. I have been practicing NM principles ever since. This Soapbox is not about who is right and who is wrong. Rather, it is about something that plagues our profession and divides friendships and camaraderie to breaking points.

So what if you believe in CR and I believe in NM? If desired end results are achieved, why do such opinions matter? What matters to me is the manner in which we dentists approach such a dividing line. I can't begin to tell you the number of times I have had conversations in which my conversing partner attempted to dispel the philosophy of NM dentistry without ever having been to a course, read an article, or listened to what is involved in such treatment. In other words, people continue making decisions and publicly voicing opinions on subjects in which they have no knowledge. Does this sound like reasonable behavior for educated professionals? Are you kidding me? Wake up, people!

If you believe in CR or NM, fine. If it works for you and your patients, fine. But don't stand in judgment of something in which you have no formal training or knowledge. Spend a little time educating yourself instead of spending a majority of your time condemning what you do not know. Should you then want to claim falsehood or disbelief, stand up and be heard — but stand up if and only if you have educated yourself and you don't carry the opinion shared by supposed "experts."

Dr. Matt Bynum lectures internationally on aesthetic and reconstructive dentistry, practice management, motivation, and team building. He is a clinical instructor and featured speaker at the Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies and is co-director and co-founder of the "Achieving Extreme Success" lecture series. Dr. Bynum maintains a full-time private practice in Simpsonville, S.C. Reach him at (864) 297-5585 or [email protected].

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