Dark Age Dentistry

We’ve got this class taught by an amazingly well-educated fellow named Dr. Zidan. He’s taking our previous 3 operative dentistry classes and pushing the envelope on what we accept. Silver fillings (amalgam) come up… and we commonly consider these as treatment options. But then he challenges us: look at the fat margins that let bacteria in, look at the extra tooth structure removed, look at all the alternatives which provide a more esthetically pleasing result! Frankly, this is exactly what we need right now—a modern take on dentistry.

See, we’re going to come out of school with some ideas about what works, and we’ll be forced to re-invent our ideas about dentistry, because we’ll be thinking like old-fashioned practitioners already. Dental schools are known for becoming grounded in traditional methods and treatments, and holding back progress… consider the fact that we don’t even have digital x-rays yet. I think we’re one of the last schools who take traditional film-based radiographs.

So, everyday, I have to tell my patients that it’ll just be about 10-15 minutes until we get their radiographs back. And our supervising doctors still expect us to take med history, chief complaint, a full set radiographs, perio charting (6 measurements per tooth), soft tissue charting, hard tissue charting, treatment planning, AND a cleaning during the patient’s first appointment. Give me a BREAK.

Anyhow, it’s nice for someone to get up in front of the class and say “veneers are common; you should figure out how to do them while you’re still in school.” Or to say “PFM crowns don’t look as good as solid porcelain. Your patients will want solid porcelain crowns.” Or to say “I don’t know why the school hasn’t invested in digital radiography.” Then Mr. Campbell, one of the most intellectually rigorous folks in our class chimes in: “Because they spent it all on the sim clinic.” He is, of course, referencing that the school invested a PILE of money in building what is essentially a glorified dentistry video game. They wasted money that could have gone toward digital radiographs.

We’re stuck taking film pictures in a digital camera age, and all we have to show for it is a room of dental video games.

Brief Notes Nearby