If you had told me that I was going to get fired from my first job out of dental school, I wouldn’t have believed you.
My first job out of dental school was with a dental chain which I won’t name, for reasons that will become clear. The practice was run by a business person—not a medical professional, and certainly not a dentist.
I quickly learned that this clinic was in the business of maximizing the billing of insurance companies, not in helping people.
What did that mean for a young dentist like me, who’d just signed up for the job?
It meant doing as much dentistry as possible, as quickly as possible—regardless of whether those teeth were healthy enough to be restored.
You don’t remodel the kitchen if there’s dry rot in the floorboards, I like to say. But for many of these chain dental clinics, profits come first, and teaching a patient how to reverse their gum disease (an essential first step before ANY work is done) was, in their eyes, turning away a paying customer. Instead, the clinic wanted me to bill for as much as possible—skipping ahead past the gum disease and cavities and straight to the big ticket items: veneers, whitening, etc.
To all of this, I flat out refused.
Not directly to management, of course. I simply carried on treating my patients how I thought best. I taught them how to prevent and reverse their cavities and their gum disease. For patients who wanted a quick fix—essentially, a kitchen remodel on top of rotting floorboards, I explained how their investment would all be for naught if the teeth weren’t healthy enough to “hold” the restorations.
It’s much more meaningful to me if we can save a tooth than replace it.
Turns out billing to educate a patient how to prevent disease is far less profitable than billing to restore diseased teeth. (Doesn’t that explain every problem with modern medicine today?!) I found every loophole I possibly could for my patients.
It worked—for a while anyway. I remained undetected by management for a whopping total of nine months. By month 10, I was caught and I was promptly fired.
Less than a year out of dental school, and with this harrowing experience under my belt, I was no longer just a dentist eager to serve. I now had street smarts, and I knew that I would dedicate my career not just to serving my patients, but to serving them despite our healthcare system.
From that moment on, my job was not just to do great dentistry, but to educate and empower my patients.
I was empowered myself, because I had learned that truth about dentistry—a truth that no one had taught me in dental school.
In dental school you are focused solely on dental health, but as soon as you spend one day in real-world, clinical practice, you learn that patients with poor dental health have a host of other systemic, clinical symptoms.
Your gut health, brain health, and even sleep quality are intimately tied to the health of your teeth and gums, and one cannot be improved without addressing the other.
In short, dental health cannot be treated in a vacuum.
My training was to treat gum disease and fill cavities, but I couldn’t act in good conscience to be an effective and ethical dentist without first learning all I could about how to both prevent and treat the root cause of these ailments and teach my patients how to do the same.
Why I started blogging
There’s this totally backwards notion out there that cavities are just a normal part of existence.
What if holes in other parts of your body were considered normal? What if you were bleeding not from your gums but from your hand?
The mouth is connected to everything else in your body. The oral microbiome is the headwaters to the gut microbiome.
In fact, the bacteria and entire environment inside the mouth are connected to the rest of your body so intimately that the state of your oral health can predict whether you’ll have heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes.
Even since leaving dental school, I’ve done a lot of research on oral and dental health.
Unfortunately, the more I learned, the more I realized that the studies in the dental and medical journals weren’t getting to the consumer fast enough.
I’ve hounded the dental schools to add courses on microbiome, sleep, and healing cavities but they always say that “the curriculum is full.”
Not to be deterred, I decided to take the information directly to the public myself, and that’s why I started this blog.
With this website, you’re going to learn how to heal your cavities, visit the dentist less often, have beautiful and functional teeth for your whole life, and optimize your mouth-body connection for better overall health.
It doesn’t matter what mistakes you’ve made in the past, or what you didn’t know about optimizing oral and dental health. Your mouth can heal itself, and it’s not too late to begin!Learn More: About Ask the Dentist