Why do dentists focus on the wrong things?

In a previous article, I described what I consider the ‘Art of Dentistry’ to be. You need to value yourself and communicate that value to your patients. When you do this, dentistry becomes much more rewarding and gives you a much better quality of life. After all, your career needs to serve you, not the other way around.

It sounds so simple but why does this often prove so hard? I believe that, as dentists, we often focus on completely the wrong things because we’ve been conditioned since our first day of dental school.

At university, the focus is all about the technical stuff. We learn the percentage of copper in amalgam and the bond strength of glass ionomer to dentine. Piss, I can’t remember what that resin is called that’s in Panavia. What is it? DMP? Bloody dimethacryl polybollocks? I really can’t remember. I’m definitely going to fail.

You stumble through university. When you get your degree, you cannot believe it and leg it before they can change their mind. Very quickly you forget all those details about cementoblasts and palatine fovea. But you’re still conditioned to focus on irrelevant detail. You still believe that dentistry is bond strengths.

We focus so much on the technical stuff because we come to think that that is what dentistry is all about.

It’s not.

Dentistry is not layering composite. It’s not sinus lifts and it’s not apical seals.

Dentistry is about people. It’s about building relationships and trust. This is what you need to be focusing on. If you want to be a great dentist, a composite layering course doesn’t really help you. You need to see things from your patient’s point of view. Of course, technical skills are important but they are not nearly as important as we have been conditioned to think.

Value yourself. Value your patients. Allow dentistry to serve you and your life rather than your life being given up to the service of dentistry.

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