Shelves and shelves full of toothpastes, mouth rinses, teeth whiteners and more — which one to buy? In addition to having to choose from a multitude of items, patients may also have questions about the chemicals that make up these products. Dental professionals field questions about toothpaste and whiteners with ingredients such as fluoride, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), triclosan, and hydrogen peroxide and/or carbamide peroxide. Some patients favor products free of these elements and move toward what are perceived as better, natural products. Dental professionals should know about research regarding chemicals in dental products that patients are likely to encounter.
Dr. Mark Costes has a wealth of experience in leadership and practice management, having owned more than 15 dental practices and employed hundreds of people throughout his career. He now has a group of seven practices and a consulting company in the Dental Success Institute. What qualifies him to be a coach? “Having made all the mistakes in the book,” he says. He urges dental students to learn from his experiences, immerse themselves in all of the free self-education resources out there and get out of their comfort zone.
In December 2016, a Wisconsin Veterans Affairs medical center made national headlines when nearly 600 patients were exposed to HIV and hepatitis B and C after a dentist reused his own dental instruments instead of performing procedures with hospital-sterilized, disposable tools. This past April saw the publication of “Lion Hearted,” an account of Cecil the lion’s last hours before he was shot and killed by Walter Palmer, a Minnesota dentist who became an overnight internet pariah following his ill-fated safari in July 2015. These are just two news stories, but each one can impact how the public views our profession and how much our patients trust us.
We spend a lot of our time reading, whether it’s PowerPoint slides, research articles or textbooks. The conceptual knowledge we gain in our first two years of dental school positively impacts our procedural knowledge in clinic. However, there are other aspects of clinical practice that aren’t taught as thoroughly in school, including effective leadership and communication. These four books are great resources for enhancing these skills.
My first involvement with organized dentistry happened when a dentist from the Great Houston Dental Society (GHDS) invited me to Texas Mission of Mercy. I took on the opportunity, which opened the door for other community service outreach that provided free dental care for veterans and underserved populations. These experiences reminded me that we have the potential to generate a positive impact on others’ lives, even with the smallest amount of help we can provide. Together with our mutual passion and skills, we were able to improve the health of our community. Without this cooperation and guidance, none of this would have been possible.
For many of us, part of the decision to become a dentist was based on our desire to work independently without a “boss.” While that may be the goal, even those who intend to become business owners and independent practitioners may have to report to someone along the way. Most will start off working for someone else, whether as an associate in a dental corporation or in a private dental practice. While you may be the preferred provider for many patients in the practice, in order to truly succeed in these initial positions, you will need to figure out how to build a good relationship with your boss and get the most out of your time in that practice.
In April 2012, I emptied my class locker, turned in my required department signatures and stood in line with half a dozen classmates to terminate clinic privileges as a graduating dental student. Maybe I was expecting confetti or balloons. A parade for all of us seemed appropriate. But instead, there was just some paperwork to be completed and the return of my student ID and ASDA office key.