Most of you reading this were not even born when the first game show on TV was broadcast in 1950. It was Ralph Edwards’s brain child and the TV version really captivated America as we watched a black and white screen many times covered in wavy lines marring the images moving about on the tube, but we were glued to this new invention, bound to get unfuzzier. The contestants had a short time to answer a question truthfully before the buzzer sounded or face the consequences of having to perform a zany stunt in front of watching America. The truth of the matter was that good sport contestants actually preferred the consequences to the truth so that all of us could LOL. That human trait intrigues me – do we really prefer the consequences over the truth? We are forced by the current fake news epidemic and political mendacity to believe that truth has suffered a serious setback, worse, I see it more and more in the profession I love and passionately uphold to the highest ethical standards.
Dentistry’s Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct is witnessing an unwarranted and unprecedented degradation, foreign to us old school practitioners brought up under the assumption that advertising always substituted truth for the desire of emotional self-satisfaction. We were taught to always put the patient’s welfare and well being ahead of any other consideration not lure a patient to accepting something that gave more to us than we gave back to our patients. Of late, patient beware, it is all about the economic well being of the stock holders of a corporate entity “owning” the dentist and demanding bottom line’s upward climb each quarter. A moral dilemma is always created when a third party intrudes between doctor and patient. Dental “Insurance” is a perfect example, which in and of itself is bad enough without the second layer “corporate quotas” pressuring the indentured dentist for unrealistic production levels without gaming a flawed, arbitrary system that causes the attempt to maximize reimbursement. Why not? The insurance and the corporation are skimming off the cream of the dentists ‘s skill and labor and some of the coding will be denied by the insurance carrier even if the procedure was needed and completed in good faith. Profit centers have been created for the General Dentist to make more money and one big wide-open arena is, guess what? Orthodontics
The tsunami in Dentistry is General Dentists offering orthodontic treatment. Anyone has a right to question credentials, but few know enough to appreciate the diagnostic intelligence and technical skills required to complete an excellently treated case and how to judge the long-term maintenance necessary to call yourself an orthodontist worthy of the specialty. A weekend course for certification to provide orthodontic treatment looks legitimate to unaware public.
The fast food franchise mentality has invaded dentistry by heavily marketing “super-fast” orthodontic treatment within 3 – 6 months. General Dentists are led to believe that turbo induced tooth movement is a new frontier that conventional or traditional orthodontics cannot compete with. Dentist around the country were quick to latch on to the computer driven Invisalign method of correcting crooked teeth which can be frustratingly slow, subject to non-compliance with less than ideal results because of lack of knowledge and experience. So, the popularity of fast results is taking hold for those rejecting a truthful answer and who are unprepared for the consequences. Teeth do not move faster or better with one technique vs. another. Moving teeth to the proper location biologically, functionally and aesthetically takes longer than 3 – 6 months. What is unsaid to the uninitiated is “Sir/Mam, do you want me to paint just the front of your house for $4,000 quickly by an amateur or paint the entire house for $5000 thoroughly by a professional?”
Truth or consequences!
John B. Harrison DDS, MSc