Letters from Readers

May 1, 2002
It has been eight years since I left the practice of dentistry at age 37 due to a hand injury. Since then, I have stayed in "dental contact" by teaching dental assisting and hygiene students.

Dentistry leads the way in personal protection

It has been eight years since I left the practice of dentistry at age 37 due to a hand injury. Since then, I have stayed in "dental contact" by teaching dental assisting and hygiene students. I also have been working with two medical schools teaching various elements of the physical examination. It is something a nonphysician can do outside of practicing medicine. I assist students along with nurse-practitioners and physicians. In the course of my teaching, I have been amazed and frustrated at the lack of attention to personal protection on the part of the staff and physicians-to-be. None use personal protective equipment (PPEs) when doing the physical exam - no safety glasses, masks, or gloves.

When I compare their approach to working with patients - who are known to be sick - to dentists' approach with patients only assumed to be sick, I am startled. While I have voiced my opinion that medical students, and, eventually, all physicians, utilize PPEs when doing their examinations, I know I am an alien trying to infiltrate territory that's somewhat "none of my business."

The reason I am pointing this out is to pronounce another accolade on us as dentists. Most of us see our physicians regularly. We see them examine us wearing nothing but smiles. We've seen them perform all types of exams absent facial protection exposing them to potential biohazards and pathogens.

I still recommend the career of dentistry to my dental hygiene and assisting students. I dissuade the medical fields - too much risk of disease, too much aggravation of patients not leaving "cured," and too much dying. I miss my dental patients and the prestige in which I have believed ever since the medical and dental students "had at it" with water balloons during the homecoming parade!

Dr. Richard Waters
Athens, Ga.

Soul man

I want to thank you for publishing my article, "Spare the Knives ... Save the Dental Soul," in the March issue of Dental Economics. I have published articles for many magazines over the past several years and have never received the response that I have from this article, which centered on Dr. Paddi Lund. In the first two days, I had over one hundred responses to the article. In the past, I have written articles on a variety of topics but none have struck a nerve like this one. I believe that this is because Paddi Lund addresses a problem that is very universal - happiness!

One of the email messages I received was from a dentist who I graduated from dental school with 30 years ago. I hadn't heard from him in all these years, and his comment was, "I'm glad someone is happy out there!" Providing the very best service for patients begins with each individual dentist. Happy dentists are the very best in every way. Thanks once again!

Barry Polansky
Cherry Hill New Jersey


In the April 2002 issue, Dental Economics featured a "Buyer's Guide" for endodontic equipment. The term rotary instrumentation was incorrectly used to describe the EZ-Fill SafeSider by Essential Dental Systems. In addition, the product features an assortment of nickel-titanium and stainless steel instruments. We regret any confusion; visit www.edsdental.com for more details.

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