Thursday, February 25, 2016


One of my most enjoyable patients with whom to visit came in last week for his recare appointment. He is a psychologist by profession, an avid reader, and the author of at least one non-psychology book. His “Red Ribboned Letters,” a gift he gave me a few years ago, was an interesting read, based on letters he wrote during World War II.

This patient always is sincere when asking about my family, as I’ve known him since a few years before my 18-year-old daughter was born. I am always equally eager to see if he has any new projects in the works, and I asked him this question during his last visit. He said he was working on another book. He told me that he is part of a dwindling population of people born shortly after World War I. He grew up in a post-war recovery period, a child of the Roaring ’20s; witnessed the greatest stock market crash in history; and struggled through the Great Depression. He participated in World War II and witnessed every military conflict of our country since World War I. He remembers the Cold War well, including homemade bomb shelters, and the nuclear threat feared by so many. He can recount with detail the civil strife of the 1950s and the social and political protests of the ’60s.

He said that with this wealth of experience and observation, he feels it is his generation’s responsibility to share what it knows with the younger generations. Thus, he said he is going to write his memoirs to share his history, experience, and wisdom, and perhaps have a positive impact on those who read his work. I know that reading his memoirs will be enjoyable, informative, and inspirational. We both agreed that we hope the youngest generation will not repeat the errors of the past and that they will build upon the great ideas of our forefathers.

This all got me to pondering the current atmosphere of our dental profession. Having been in practice now for 40 years, I don’t think anyone who has been in practice more than 20 years would disagree that changes in business practice, management, ownership, and technology have been occurring exponentially during the past two decades. I think that it behooves us to be mentors for new dentists. I am being told that solo practices like mine are becoming a thing of the past, and that may be true. I disagree that corporate dentistry, run by nondentists, is the only way to see the future of dentistry. I realize that most new dentists graduate with a heavy debt burden and opening up a new solo practice is not as feasible as it was in my starting years. I believe it is possible for new graduates, with proper guidance and encouragement, to find ways to partner and share facilities with one another. We all need to be less competitive. New graduates need to “make the rounds” of as many dentists in their geographic area as they can and introduce themselves. They would be surprised at how much help they would receive in the way of practice tips and referrals. On the same note, the established dentists should seek out the new dentists and make them feel like a part of the local dental community and a respected doctor, not a competitor. Maybe this is an old-fashioned idea, but it worked for me, and I think it will still work now and in the future.

Terry G. Box, DDS, MAGD

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