Practicing Honest Dentistry

It’s been a rough week.

On Tuesday, we got the biopsy results back for a lip lesion, and I had to inform my patient that he had cancer.  The following morning, I found multiple erythroleukoplakias on the left lateral tongue of a patient I was doing a prosthodontic eval on.  We biopsied the lesion this afternoon.

He didn’t need crowns.  He needed an oral cancer screening.

The patients that I’ve been seeing lately are being aggressively treatment planned for work that they clearly don’t need.  Instead of crowns, they need fillings.  Instead of multiple implants, they need perio disease control first.  A cleaning.

Patients like coming to us in the USAF AEGD residency program because we’re unbiased.  We’re here to practice by the books and provide the highest standard of care.   We only focus on doing what’s right for the patient.

Civilian dental practices are self regulating entities.  That means that there is a very broad range of what’s considered acceptable patient care.  It all depends on how the dentist chooses to run his practice.  His morality.  His ethics.  How he has decided to treat human beings.

And of course, his bottom line.

Some of the dentists in Colorado are going above and beyond to find ANY problem they can with the teeth.  I have a hard time rationalizing that they couldn’t see the lesions on the left lateral tongue, or that lesion on the lip.

There’s nothing special about my eyes.  They just chose not to look.  And that is negligence.

I’m scared for our profession.

Do you trust your dentist?  Do you think that they’re money grubbing liars out to make a quick buck?   It’s so much about getting a second opinion right now.  It’s about distrust.   And it’s about the dentist taking advantage of someone who doesn’t know any better.

I don’t know what our profession is going to look like in ten years.  But if we keep on cheating our patients, then the public will despise us.  We won’t be respected.  We won’t be a group of people who are thought to benefit society.  Our reputations will be ruined.

We all took the Hippocratic oath.  Dentistry is a profession of service to others.

JUST. DO. THE. RIGHT. THING.

Decide who you want to be.  Because it’s not what you do as a profession that’s revealing.  It’s how you practice that defines who you are as a person.

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