There are dentists / researchers out there who have been turning old assumptions about tooth decay on their head for years now. Are we paying enough attention to the likes of John Featherstone or Nigel Pitts? With information available at the click of a mouse, the public is beginning to ask informed questions. New parents calling dental offices to have their infant examined. Are we welcoming those calls? And if so, are we conducting those assessments skillfully?
Fillings have a role to play in the management of caries, but they are not the most important part of managing this disease process. Concentrating on restoration, at the expense of the non-operative treatment, is a recipe for disaster. Notice the use of the word ‘treatment’ to describe the non-operative management of the disease. The word TREATMENT implies skill, knowledge, care, judgement and time, all of which are worthy of payment. With revenues from fillings eventually falling from the current all time high, one of the questions we may want to ask ourselves is: what is the new business model that can sustain dentistry? What will be driving our decision making process?
What’s important is to recognize that we all are on a leadership journey. Everyone one of us matters in the creation of a vision that supports high VALUE and TRUST. Initiating a shift in the attention we pay to this simple fact will affect the qualitative dimension of our lives and the lives of those around us. Embracing leadership is fulfilling.
Good dentistry begins with good leadership at its core. Now, lets face it: even very good fillings are not fulfilling and they certainly do not fill the space in HEALTH that is begging to be OCCUPIED. As dentists we can become valuable partners in solving the complex social challenge of 21st century health care. Our worthiness does not lie in our ability to do better fillings but in our capacity to improve health.
We need to uncover answers that will meet our individual needs as well as those of our patients and contribute solutions for the larger issue of health care systems for our population. If we can figure this out, we can change the course of health care. It is time for reflection, reflection that will lead to wise and skillful action in Shaping the Future of Dentistry together.
Let’s look beyond our habitual assumptions of WHO and WHAT defines us as health professionals.