Dentistry. In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.
“In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity”
It’s a privilege to work with so many incredible minds!
In the toughest times big problems result in big solutions. Opportunity.
For instance, in 1809 Napoleon needed rations to feed troops in the battlefield. He had a contest offering $12,000 to the winner…and preserved food was invented! Trying to keep people healthy and live longer lives is why we have medicines and vaccines. Born out of necessity during the toughest times….brilliant people come up with brilliant ideas.
Today is no different – look at all the inventors coming up with respirator ideas!!
The speed we will see vaccination and medicine come to market for COVID has a lot to do with current technology, AI, internet and social media. Using resources the world has never experienced, along with human ingenuity shared WORLDWIDE and INSTANTLY will result in solutions never experienced before.
The brilliant minds of Dentistry
In my short 36 year of dentistry, I have watched so many PIVOTS in dentistry! In 1984 I started in the family dental supply business - amalgam, anaesthetic and Kodak film were a HUGE part of our business.
2 of those 3 product categories barely exist today!
Amalgam was replaced by Composite. It came in two shades - light and dark. Self cured. Was a two paste thing. Now we have Tokuyama offering Omnichroma - a universal shaded restorative material, Pulpdent Activa Bioactive restorative material. Eight generations of bonding agents that are simpler to use than ever and stronger than the teeth they are gluing materials onto!
Inventions come from people looking to solve issues! Amalgam worked well, but wasn't aesthetic. Film could be digitized and many steps replaced.. KODAK forgot to PIVOT!!
Composite needed more than two shades - evolving to TOO MANY shades....and now maybe one or two universal shades solve all the issues. A restorative material that releases calcium, phosphate and fluoride ions is likely going to be the product of the future...or what is next?
AIDS changed infection control
In 1984, our little family business, Dominion Dental Supply didn't sell many gloves or masks. There were studies comparing the use of gloves versus just handwashing - and it wasn't really aimed at dentistry. I don't remember 36 years ago as well as I do the days when they DID BECOME popular!
Aids made a debut in the 1980s and dramatically increased the sales of infection control products. It is vivid in my mind the HUGE SHORTAGE of latex gloves. Our small family business had huge problems trying to source Microtouch gloves, and then ANY brand of gloves when I first started. I would say it was late 80s when it got to a critical point where we had no supply for short periods....and then there was a GLUT and prices dropped and supply was abundant....
What I remember even better was the late 1980s....and especially early 1990s when Dr. Acer from Palm Beach Florida had a story break....and the world of dentistry freaked out, and a company named Sci Can invented a product called the Statim.
We didn't always sterilize handpieces. It was more likely they would be flushed, sanitized and reused immediately. The problem with sterilization was the types of sterilizers we had would cause the air turbines to immediately or very quickly seize. The cost was very high and the length of time to reprocess was too long. Statim was invented in a time of need, and was a staple for infection control for most of my career following.
In 1988 OSHA MANDATED sterilization of handpieces, and use of gloves, masks and eyewear. This was one of the first major infection control changes I experienced, and it was the topic of many great debates at the time...
It was a PIVOT for dentistry, and we have done this in so many various forms over the years....we are about to do it again!
What about now? How about the future?
My mind only works one direction. Forward march!!
It's too hard to be negative on an industry that has been in my blood for two generations and 36 years of incredible growth! This is a business that will CONTINUE to grow!
Dentistry is VITAL to over all health! You can't be a healthy human being without good oral health! Dentistry and the teams involved have helped create a world of very healthy and educated people.
Dentistry is one of the MOST RELIABLE systems to get a human being in for a regular PREVENTIVE treatment. PREVENTING possible sick teeth, how about systemic health!!
Modern research and current discussions on the link between oral health and systemic health. To me this is opportunity.
The future of dentistry is all about TOTAL HEALTH and PREVENTION! The patient who brings their family in for regular 6 month visits. Not only for prevention of caries, but the opportunity to learn about TOTAL HEALTH!
Think of how a hygienist could work within the office during these regular visits of the entire family!
A glance into the future of hygiene.(excerpt from RDH Mag - Laurie A Milling RDH, BS)
Some of the most exciting medical advances and research will allow dental hygienists to expand their scope of practice in the clinical setting, as well as open new doors of opportunity in teaching and research. Below are the advancements taking place now and expected in the not-too-distant future.
Saliva test to determine markers for periodontal disease, heart disease, and some cancers
Chairside blood testing as a screening tool for:
C-reactive protein (an inflammatory marker produced by the liver) which can indicate heart disease and other inflammatory diseases
Dentistry itself is evolving....
Digital Dentistry offers no need to take messy impressions. A clean and accurate measurement of oral conditions. The ability to be used diagnostically.
Modern dentistry means a Reduction of visits needed to complete procedures. In office milling machines, 3D printers for appliances, one office visit for specialties. Dental Clinics are VERY convenient locations and could offer a plethora of services.
Dental offices are very well positioned to be the future of health care, can you see the opportunity?
Getting back to work
When will offices open again? Of course, nobody really knows. But here are my old experienced thoughts...
We have EXCELLENT Infection control protocols, and following the standards we already had will continue to provide the high level of care we have always provided. This job has always worked in close proximity to aerosol - and we realize more than ever exactly WHY we had the constant changes and improvements. It never seemed more relevant than it does today!
The whole purpose of following these protocols was to treat EVERY patient as if they had a communicable disease. We take those precautions on every patient seriously as if they are our children, or our beloved parents next in the chair!
We can continue with our high level of infection control protocols, and like history has shown will likely find ways to improve as well!
I look forward to the continual improvement in our business, and the talented people who keep inventing and finding opportunity to advance dentistry. My goal is to stay a part of this story for another 36 years....