Thursday, January 16, 2014

Surf’s Up, Dentistry

“The best surfer in the world is nothing without a good wave.”

This friend’s Facebook status made me stop and think. After liking it and commenting, “Gnarly quote, brah” – which I had previously verified as legitimate surfer lingo via a Google search – I got to thinking about how the quote could relate to dentistry.

Fortunately, dentistry can be much more controlled and predictable than Mother Nature’s waves. What is the dentist’s “wave?” I think a dentist cannot be successful without relying on training, staff, equipment, and patients.

As AGD members, we are actively involved in organized dentistry and continuing education to better serve the public. As a new dentist, I am interested in expanding my dental school foundational knowledge to learn more advanced skills and techniques and how to use different equipment. But I also recognize the importance of keeping up with those basic skills, as everything is built on that.

No one gets where they are today without the help of others. In our dental offices, staff plays a huge role. I can’t do everything! I need to be in the operator chair doing work, not bagging and sterilizing instruments. We rely on our staff to make our office successful because we recognize that we cannot do it all.

I think the best surfer in the world can probably surf on any board. But he or she would have the knowledge about why and when a certain type of board is more advantageous than another and could make an educated decision about that.

Dentists should know what works best for them in their hands, what is the best for the patient, and what the standard of care is. We also know that staying up-to-date with tested and evidence-backed technology can show a patient that you are looking out for their best interest, current in the latest education and techniques, and can shorten appointment times.

Most importantly, a dentist needs patients. The best clinician in the world cannot be the best without patients. Establishing personal connections with patients can do wonders for their trust, their case acceptance and their satisfaction. Making chart notes about their daughter’s upcoming wedding, their love of football, or whatever other interesting personal thing they want to talk about will pay off.

I know this information is not really anything new, but maybe the quote stood out for you, too. We can all probably do a better job of appreciating those people and things that make us better dentists and help us to ‘ride the wave’ to success.

Katie Divine, DDS

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