This year will mark the 38th year I have been active in the practice of dentistry. Though I am whelmed with how fast that time has passed, I am overwhelmed with what has stayed the same and with what has changed.
What has stayed the same? I was honored in the beginning and am honored now to have earned your trust. I have the most wonderful patients/clients in the world: people coming by choice; people educated/interested/active in the decisions about their own health care; people honoring us with the respect, loyalty, and appreciation they pay; people honoring us by repeatedly referring family and friends. My dentist colleagues may wonder why I am able to respond to their complaints and upsets about their patients with a quiet smile. I feel truly blessed, by you.
What has changed? Much about dentistry and much about how we see dentistry has changed. Thirty-eight years ago I was treating teeth that had people attached. Today I am treating people that are appropriately attached to the realization that their oral health is intimately connected to their overall health and well-being. Every tooth is a vital organ with its own innervations, circulation, and special function.
Holistic practitioners have long appreciated the connection of disease in one part of the body intimately affecting all parts. Conventional dentistry and medicine are rediscovering, after about 80 years of denial, the bi-directional role of periodontal disease (bleeding gum tissue and retreating gum tissue and boney support). Thirty-eight years ago I was not taught that regular hygiene visits were so instrumental in preventing heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and premature and low birth-weight babies. That truth is universally accepted now. The role, of home care and of hygiene visits to detect problems early and to coach optimal home-care, has risen from a good idea to one of the most important things we can do for our patients. Who knew hygiene visits could save lives?
The past 28 years have demonstrated dramatic changes in how I restore teeth. I stopped placing mercury fillings in 1984; we called it mercury-free. Since then we have learned plenty about protocols to take mercury-free to mercury-safe We subsequently stopped nickel and non-precious metals; now 99% of the restorations we do are metal free. Beautiful, strong, conservative, ceramic restorations can almost always be done in one office visit, thanks to my fifteen years of Cerec experience.
Thirty-eight years ago I had no idea that today I would be using: lasers for early and accurate diagnosis of decay and for soft tissue surgery, micro-air abrasion to reduce drilling and minimize trauma to teeth, using state of the art digital xray imaging with better quality and using less than 1/10th of the radiation exposure, testing for compatibility of dental materials, or, that I would have a web site to print this letter with references, photos, and details.
I have much for which to be thankful. Today, I especially offer my thanks to you.