Recently I attended a seminar given by a product vendor to practitioners in a specific demographic with hopes to sell their product. The product was never actually mentioned, but it did not have to be. Posters, flyers and pamphlets galore were displayed around the meeting area, and sales reps were overly nice and happy to meet you. I must believe this is as common in other industries as it is in oral health care.
I cringe at the thought of attending what I call “cookie cutter” courses, but I was talked into it by a colleague. The vendor always has a perceived expert discussing a topic related to the product being sold in the lobby. Capitalism at its finest.
Most of the room was filled with a younger generation of dentists in their first five years of practice. I can only assume all are struggling with debt, balancing work life and a young family, striving for profitability and hopefully a high quality of care for the patients they treat. I understand this because I am not that far removed from my early trials in dentistry. I also noticed a lot of seasoned colleagues asking questions mostly on profitability and margins, without interest in clinical relevance. The speaker gracefully explained how easy it was to use this product and, most notably, the undertones of how much money they would make. A few astute crowd members asked about certain shortcomings of the procedure and product, only to be elegantly ignored without the questions being truly answered. It felt like I was in Washington D.C.
The point I would like to make with this does not involve my usual thoughts on clinical dentistry and its applications. It speaks more to how and why we learn within our professions. Basing our progression on anecdotal evidence, or a single technique or product that will immediately make us better and more profitable is naive. Most of the time we will spin in circles and be no better off from where we started. In some situations, we may be even worse. My grandfather said, “If it is too good to be true, it probably is.”
I believe in high quality mentorship and education that is based on collaboration and solid literature-based evidence. Our practice is built on the premise of proven science backed by clinical trials.
Our products are not chosen and incorporated into our systems because they cost less, or a sales rep told me they are better. Hours and years of education put them there, so my patients can have a better standard of care. If it does not challenge you, it does not change you. I truly feel this applies in all circumstances in life, but most especially in your profession. I am now officially off my high horse!
Andrew Hamilton DDS
West Wind Dental (Owner/Dentist)
Kois Graduate Dentist
FIDIA, FGDIA, FICIO