Monday, December 17, 2012

Trying to Make People Smile

Hey all,

Happy Friday to you. Tonight is the night of our Christmas party. As the staff is a bit smaller, we all get along pretty well. I think this is the most fun I have had practicing in a long time. This owning thing is very stressful, but overlooking all that, liking the people you work with is key to your happiness. And getting together with people you like tends to be lots of fun. We are going to go out to dinner at a pretty nice place where we will have a happy hour outside and then go inside for dinner and gift exchange. I got 11 gift cards and we are going to have a White Elephant-type game and give those out. Then I will give the cash out. We will stay as long as people want to stay.

This is my third to last blog. I want to portray everything that I think is important in these last couple of blogs. I think I am going to talk about work today, the AGD on Tuesday, and then I will talk about life on Thursday.

How do I talk about work in one blog. I don't know what aspects are the most important. But in light of the Friend or Foe blog, I was reminded of a subject that I deal with everyday. I think it is important to us to know that dentists come in all shapes and sizes. In fact, some change their shapes and sizes. Okay I am not talking about heights and weights. I am talking about how they practice.

There are tons of types of dentists and it is important to know their roles and how we are all just trying to get along. We are kind of like restaurants. Do the Ruth's Chrises of the world hate McDonald’s? Do the Olive Gardens feel insecure around the Palm Steakhouses? No. I think we all have our wheelhouse.

You know, I have done almost all of the continuums at the Pankey Institute. I however do not totally practice that way. I have found my wheelhouse. I like doing restorative work. I feel like I am really good at that. I do not like doing removable. I think I am okay at it but it is not my favorite. I would never look down on someone that runs a removable-type practice. I would not feel insecure around Pankey-exclusive practices.

There are dentists that work in volume clinics. I know there are good people working there. I know there are dentists that are there just paying the bills until they can get a better job and there are dentists that like this type of practice. I think we have to respect all types of guys. There are guys that love teeth like I do working in a volume type practice.

But one thing that makes my blood boil is dentists that don't love teeth and who have stopped loving people. Don't get me wrong. I know this profession has a way of making people jaded. But if you don't love what you do, then you need to change how you do it.

When dentists start just doing this for themselves, when they see people as dollar signs, I don't have any patience for them. I have been in this profession for 17 years and some days I find it hard to love people. I have a hard time smiling when a woman is asking me to adjust her partial (that I added one tooth to) for the ninth time.

This profession is chickens one day and feathers the next. Or lemons one day and lemonade the next. It can beat a man down, that is for sure. But what job doesn't? If you stop loving people, if you stop wanting to make this dentist appointment the one that stops this patient from fearing the dentist, it is time to reconsider your career.

Sure, I want to kick some people that won't get numb after the 7th injection. Sure, I lose the love, but I find it again. Is it sometimes about money? Yes. But that can't be the reason we are doing this.

Back to the different types of dentists. We all got into this profession for mostly the same reason. We all go to different practices for different reasons. Do the McDonald’s dentists have anything to be ashamed of? No. Are the Ruth's Chris dentists better than anyone else? No.

We are all trying to make people smile. Let’s respect that.

Have a great weekend.



Dr. Andy said...


Very nice article. The problem that I, and most dentists have is this: everyone reading this knows the difference between Wal-Mart and Saks Fifth Ave. Even BEFORE you walk in you know what to expect (and what NOT to expect). However, for the general public a dentist is a dentist is a dentist. Just as for you and I a Hematolgist is a Hematologist is a Hematologist.

I believe, the bad feelings erupt when we are put into a position to defend our profession. Every dentist has been in this situation: a patient wants to know why your treatment plan costs $2000 but the dentist down the street wants to do $15,000 worth of dentistry. In the patient's mind either you are missing a lot of problems or the other guy is over treating. Either way dentistry loses. And you are the face of dentistry at that moment in time, aren't you?


Anonymous said...

John - that is your most beautiful and eloquent piece yet. All of your pieces are beautiful and eloquent and so finely crafted, but this one is a peach. Is there a way to stay in touch with you after you quit this blog? We are eerily the same as dentists, you and I, with the same mindset and practice philosophies and struggles. Your blogs that I have been following keenly for the last 3 years have made me an even better dentist. I think I can speak for all of your readers that you will be sorrily missed once your AGD gig comes to an end. A million thanks again John for your efforts here - they have had effects far greater than you will ever know. G in BC.

Anonymous said...

John: you have a healthy perspective about the practice of dentistry. so do I.

Before you disappear, let me suggest to read a blog by
Debbie Hagan, a non dentist. She and i agree on things:

Her blog: Dennis the Menace

try it ..

Dr. Bob Allen
Hampton Va

gatordmd said...

Dr. Andy,

I totally agree with you. I mentioned in the blog we, dentists, have a responsibility to, for lack of better word, "love" each other and respect each other.
But I never did mention in the blog that each dentist has a responsibility to the profession. S when he/she is not acting ethical or responsible he/she is hurting the profession and that is when most of us will have a problem.

Thanks Andy

gatordmd said...

G in BC.

Thanks a ton.

You can always email me at



Joe Tagliarini said...

I think the moment you stop loving what you do, be it dentistry or anything else, that's a sign it's time to find a new calling in life...or at least find a way to regain your passion. Dentistry is about people, not just teeth. You have to love working with people to be a great dentist.


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