Monday, October 16, 2017

"The Facts, Just the Facts, Ma'am" (NOT POLITICAL)

The facts, just the facts ma'am comes from a 1960s police show on TV called Dragnet.

In the year 2017 virtually everyone should know the facts when they present them on a social forum for discussion.

One of my high school classmates and a college graduate made the following statement on a Facebook post:


Maybe the Democrats should have gone after them, after all, David Duke is a staunch Democrat and friend of Hillary.

Now I don't care how or who you voted for but if you paid any attention to the 2016 election or the confrontation in "Charlottesville" in which white supremacists and Nazis marched ,you know that David Duke, the former KKK (Klu Klux Klan) Grand Dragon was well known to be a supporter of the President.

To keep things apolitical, and not quote either CNN or Fox News, here is a headline from a British Newspaper, the Independence.

Former KKK leader David Duke: 'We won it for Donald Trump.'
So how can someone post 'information' on an international forum that is a total lie and sooooo easy to factcheck? How is this possible? 
The big question is, "Do the facts....the REAL  facts matter?" Or does everyone have a right to think and believe anything even if it is a verifiable lie. Can we survive as a nation and a people?
Each of us has to answer this for themselves. This is NOT political. When we get right down to it, we have to ask ourselves whether America can survive or after 250 years, we break apart.


Sunday, October 8, 2017

What Should “Top Dentists” Have In Common?

Being selected as a Top Dentist in the Capital District by one’s peers which appeared in the current issue of CAPITAL MAGAZINE is certainly an honor. What should be the criteria for being considered a “Top Dentist?”

The best clinical dentists in the United States have many things in common:
1. Thousands of hours of Continuing Education
2. They are credentialed by a University or highly regarded, reputable dental organization
3. They publish cases in in print or online
4. They take many photographs of their work and present their work to other dentists and patients
5. They lecture locally, at Universities or at Institutes
6. They are held in high regard by their peers
7. Patients travel  great distances to have a highly regarded dentist treat them
8. Are recognized as a mentor for other dentists

So how do the dentists on the Top Dentist list that appeared in Capital District Magazine measure up to the criteria that I mention?

Not so much.

For me, this is problematic because the public may be fooled into thinking that standards exist to be selected to be on “the list.”

Even if Capital District Magazine does not use MY standards or criteria to be included on their list, patients can use my list to help select a new dentist to take care of them.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

I Complained and They Listened

For the last two years, Capital Living Magazine had their "Top Dentist" issue and surveys were sent out to all of the dentists in the area requesting that they decide who are their top colleagues. (You can't vote for yourself.) My complaint to the Magazine was that each dentist was selected by other dentists in their small town rather than as the Top Dentist for the entire Capital District.  When Capital Living publishes the top physicians, a doctor is not listed by their small town but they are the BEST in the region.

The Magazine must have listened because the new survey results came out today and the listing was for  the Top Dentists in the Capital Distract rather than the Top Dentist in Saratoga or Cropseyville, NY, my previous location.

Did I make the list?

Of course but instead of being one of the Top Dentists in Saratoga Springs, I am one of the Top Dentists in all of the Capital District.

Is this important?

NOPE!!!

I went to many of the other general dentist's websites and virtually none of them posted photos of their work?

In the big leagues, if a dentist doesn't photograph their work, they are not considered in the big leagues. If a dentist hasn't done a lot of cases, they don't have any to show you. If the dentist says that  "they don't have time to take pictures of their work, then they are not doing quality work...no exception.

Would I go to many of the dentists on the Top Dentist General Dentistry group?

Can I take the 5th?

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Patriotism (Not political)

Let's make something  clear...I stand for the flag and the National Anthem. Why?
Because I do it out of respect for the  VALUES  that America, the flag and the National Anthem stand for.

Do I think that standing for the flag is the BEST way to show one's patriotic side?

Absolutely not!

A better way to show one's patriotism is to pay taxes for the privilege of living in our great country.

Almost 50 years ago there were two very patriotic brothers from Texas who earned millions of dollars  but refused to pay any Federal taxes. They were staunch supporters of the Vietnam War but refused to  pay for the bullets so that soldiers could fight. Were they truly patriots?

If someone refuses to pay taxes, that is the ultimate sign of disrespect for our nation. If you don't want to stand for the flag or the National Anthem...I understand and I won't question your patriotism..

If someone refuses to pay their taxes....I have a right to question  their patriotism.

Because I said that this is NOT a political blog...I won't mention any names of those who refuse to pay taxes.

PBS "The Vietnam War" (Not political)

For my generation, the Vietnam War was the defining issue of the day. As it turns out, everyone was right and everyone was wrong.

In my mind, there were TWO sets of heroes during the Vietnam War: the kids that fought the war and the kids that protested the war.

Ken Burns series created very strong emotions for the people that fought the war, the people that protested the war and for everyone that watched the program. It was hard to watch and hard not to shed tears at different parts of the program.

Was anything resolved?

No!!!! But having lived as long as I have, I recognize that discussing issues with people that disagree with you does not change minds. What does change minds is the discussions that we have in our own head.

The longer we live, the more we no longer see a black and white world but really every shade of gray.

No minds are ever changed during a debate...If we leave our minds open and live long enough, many of us understand that there really is another side to the story that we were unable to see when we were younger.

The Ken Burns series will be repeated many times and would be wise to see it. It is also being streamed so you can watch it any time you want.

Keep an open mind.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Different Groups of Dentists

I recently joined my third internet dental group. Each group is profoundly different than the other.

The first group is made up of world class dentists from around the world who love to post their work.
Why show cases? To educate, to learn and to show other dentists that you deserve  to be a part of their group.

The second group of dentist love to talk politics, sports, cars, weather, religion and philosophy.
Do they talk dentistry? Not so much. They don't seem to enjoy their work as much as I enjoy my work.

The third group I joined by accident when I answered a question on Facebook. The dentist that responded welcomed me to their group. Who is in this group? Everyone is young, no one talks about their work or their patients and the emphasis is on making money.

As you know, fixing your teeth is my greatest joy. Making money.....not so much.

I won't last long in the third group because I am an old guy who always puts my patient's interest ahead of my own financial interest... I just don't fit in that group... Nor am I happy in the second internet dental group.

I try to broaden my horizons but I keep returning to groups of dentists that are highly educated, highly trained and deeply care about their patients.

All dentists are not the same. Which group do you want YOUR dentist to belong to?

Trust

Everyone that I have dealings with, I trust. My car salesman of 30 years, my insurance sales person of 35 years, and the 3 surgeons that performed surgery for me these past 7 years. I trust my staff and my best friends.

Why am I telling you this?

When I have a new patient in my practice, I always feel that I must gain their trust as quickly as I can.  One of the best ways to do this is to photograph virtually every tooth that I treat so that I can show my patient what is under their 25 year old crown or mercury filling. It is indeed true that a picture is better than a 1,000 words.

This is what was INSIDE the crown that I removed yesterday from the mouth of a relatively new patient:

So what the heck is all the brown stuff inside the crown?

Tooth decay and leakage. Old dentistry allows saliva to get underneath  the filling or crown and destroy the tooth. In non-dental terms, think of the 25 year old shingles on your roof that start to allow rain and snow to leak and get inside your house.

If  the dentist cannot show you a large x-ray of tooth decay under a filling or crown OR doesn't take a photo to explain why the old dentistry is being removed, then I would have a problem TRUSTING the dentist.

Think about who you can trust.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Ole Rush Limbaugh and the Facts (Not political)

I don't care how you feel about Rush Limbaugh...whether you agree with him politically or believe that he is a jerk.

I do care when the facts were that hurricane IRMA was a category 5 storm and heading straight to Florida with 19 million people in it's path and the water table in the State at the surface.

Ole Rush called the storm FAKE NEWS and told his listeners not to listen to government and weather experts; that it was unnecessary to evacuate.

What Russia did on FACEBOOK during the election was FAKE NEWS. Russia, according to FACEBOOK, paid for a thousand ads to demean the Democratic Candidate. Listening to the Weather Service in a highly populated area surrounded by water that has a single road for escape  is not fake news and should be followed.

Al Roker, the long time weather man on NBC's TODAY SHOW, had the courage to publicly call ole Rush out saying on Twitter:

“Do not listen to @rushlimbaugh when he says #Irma is not a dangerous #storm and is hype,” Roker wrote on Twitter. “He is putting people’s lives at risk.”

But this is really a joke because Ole Rush decided to evacuate. 

Do we need any more hypocrites?

The Old Fashioned Way

Susan and I were in Charlotte, NC for the long Labor Day Weekend and we went to dinner with some new friends that we met on our last visit to that area.

The man works in internet digital marketing and has read many of the popular business books on sales, marketing and success. At one point he turned to me and asked, "And how did you manage to become so successful?" Most marketing people believe that there is a 'secret' for  business success which usually involves a unique way to sell or market oneself.

I responded that I did it the old fashioned way: I took virtually more post graduate courses than an other dentist in my area and usually with some of the best clinicians in the country. Having taken 7,000 hours of post doctoral education in one area: fixing teeth and restoring implants, I was eminently competent to do what I do.

I also told him that my GOAL is to try to be the best in what I do. (Note to those in organized dentistry: this is NOT a claim that I am the best.) In addition to trying to be the best, I am the most passionate dentist that I know in restorative dentistry, I work more hours than the vast majority and I always place my patient's well being ahead of my financial well being.

Practicing excellence in any business in America is a rarity in 2017. Almost every business wants to make more money, do less work and skimp on the product or service.

My office success is simply based on what lots of people used to do in America: Work hard, study hard and do the right thing.

Sorry to disappoint the marketing people. There is no secret to our success.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Texas Floods

Most of us are emotionally impacted by watching the severe flooding in Texas and many of us feel that Texas is a 'victim of Mother Nature."

Now mind you, Texas has had other significant storms and incidents of flooding so this is not the first experience with this kind of event.

I am sure many readers are wondering why I am blogging about this.

Texas is one of seven American States that does not have a State Income Tax. How could they be prepared for tragedies when they cannot PLAN because they don't have the money?

Galveston is BELOW sea level; Houston is just at sea level and no significant plans to avoid catastrophes have been made unlike in the Netherlands which spent $30 Billion in the 1950s to prevent any chance of new floods.

What  does Texas do????

They ask you and I  (i.e. the Federal Government) to help pay for rescue and cleanup. Do I think that FEMA should provide expertise, materials, people and heavy equipment? Absolutely!!!!!!!

Really????

Why don't we ask them to institute an immediate State Income Tax of 5% (For reference NY State Tax is 6.65% for above average wage earners and wealthy individuals pay 8.82%.)

Don't you wonder why things happen when you feel that something could have been done to ameliorate  the crisis? Or is it just me?

I don't think that it is the role of you and I to pay for what the citizens of Texas should pay for.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Don't You Feel Proud!

I am fairly well known among dentists that practice high level restorative dentistry i.e. fixing teeth and restoring implants. My work has  appeared on many quality internet dental forums to significantly positive comments.

This evening, I was reading some emails that I received from one of my dental forums and saw these words:

"Gerald Benjamin taught me to create a bevel at the cavo-surface margins and this REALLY helps blend in composite resins. Many times my hygienists can’t tell that the patient has a restoration!
Thanks Gerald!
Ray

I am truly honored by Ray Voller's comments.

I hope that you feel that you have selected the right dental office and right dentist to take care of you.

I am sincerely honored to take care of you.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Dirty, Lying, Stealing, Crooks 2

I always like to keep you informed about situations that have been mentioned in previous blog posts.
Remember that I told you about an insurance company which refused to pay for the replacement of two 30 year old crowns because the x-rays didn't show tooth decay? Then I took the crowns off  and showed you (and them) photos of the tooth decay under the crowns and inside on the underside of the crowns.

Well the insurance company conceded that there WAS tooth decay but they went into a new delay tactic of asking for a report about the bone level and soft tissue..

The insurance company HAS the x-ray which shows healthy bone.

Dirty, Lying, Stealing, Crooks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is why I won't deal with insurance companies..They could care less about your dental health AND they want to drive a wedge between YOU and ME so you don't trust me.

Back in the day, you went to the doctor and the insurance company paid the bill, less any deductibles.
But that was before some of the CEOs of insurance companies made 40 MILLION DOLLARS a year.

Ask yourself: Why would you trust  these dirty, lying, stealing, crooks?

I don't know!!!


Interesting Thoughts


The Japanese have a few words to express a kind of pathway towards mastery of any area.
Shūjuku: means to “study and ripen” with your knowledge and skill level. Jukuren :means expertise, skilled or to be proficient through practice and
repetition. The literal translation is to “ripen and repeat.”

I hold a Certificate of PROFICIENCY in Esthetic Dentistry or JUKUREN. I do the same thing all day: fix teeth and restore implants from very simple to very complex.

I have 7,000 hours of Continuing Education past my DDS degree or Shūjuku.

Many dentists that I communicate with in person or online do not enjoy their work; they don't value their work. They value their job for the economic rewards.

I value my work because I value YOU. And I have made a promise and commitment to you to take care of you.

Try to LOVE your work and it won't just be a job.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

My Second Birthday

Today is my 'second' birthday.

41 years ago I was crushed between two parked cars which virtually amputated my right leg... It was a defining moment of my life but it is NOT what defines me.

My injury is why I limp and why it is becoming increasingly difficult to walk.

In my opinion, we  must use the negative things that happen to us as inspirational moments to take us to the next level. This is what I have done and I would suggest that when bad things happen to you that you take a moment, collect your thoughts and ask yourself:

"Something bad just happened to me. How can I move forward with my life."

That is what I did and it 'worked' for me.

I Don't Get It 2

Another Update about the dentist who views his job in terms of dollars..

He wrote to me and said:

"No one does the right thing. Everyone only does what is in their own interest."

Really????

No

REALLY???????

If this dentist is correct, we are all in big trouble.

Dentistry is my passion.

Taking care of you is my life's work.

It is not about the money...It has NEVER been about the money.

In a Capitalist Society, making money should be a REFLECTION of how well you do your job but it is NOT nor should it be,  the reason for our work.

As you can probably see, I am not the most liked person on this Dental Forum.

So what...Truth should never be a victim and taking care of you is why I work 50+ hours a week.

Wabi-Sabi 2

I feel compelled to update you on the patient who claimed that my 'recently' placed (4 or 5 years ago) bonded resin filling  was wearing away.

I told my staff that I would see her for a short consult at no charge so that I could see for myself what my work looked like. After meeting my patient, it was obvious that she had fallen on tough times so I could not be upset with her about the claim that my work was not doing well.

A clinical exam revealed that despite the work being about 5 years old, it looked as ideal as the day that I had placed it.

I am not infallible.  I am not the world's best restorative dentist.

But I know the level of my work and knew that the fillings that I placed would look great.

If you have a problem with my work,  please call Donna so that I can make it right.

Wabi Sabi: Nothing is perfect, Nothing lasts forever and nothing is ever finished...

It would be wise for all of us to remember that.

Adults Who Say Hurtful Things to Children


I was looking at CNN.Com and noted a letter of apology sent to one of the New England Patriot football players. The letter was from the players high school English teacher. The  teacher told the student that  he would never make it to the National Football League.  The letter:



I related to this because after graduating from Andrew Jackson High School  in Queens, NY, I met my high school math teacher on the platform of the New York City subway. She asked me what my plans were and I told her that I would be going to college. She blurted out uncontrollably,

"YOU????

That went into my memory file to serve as an inspiration when things weren't going well in college.

About 20 years later, Andrew Jackson held a 50 year reunion for anyone who had graduated from the school. The college adviser for the really smart kids (obviously NOT my advisor)  was taking tickets and greeting people at the door. Mr. Blatt was also the most accomplished high school Track coach in New York City and I had been on the team for four years.

When Mr. Blatt asked me my name he remarked,

"Did I see DOCTOR before your name?"

Neither teacher thought that I would amount to much.

Adults and especially teachers should not say disparaging things to children...The effects are life long.  My life has been an attempt to prove all the adults wrong who underestimated me.

I know how the football player felt.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

I Don't Get It

I have been a dentist for 40 years and my job, as you know, is to take care of you in the best possible  way. In the biggest picture, it is my job to fix a tooth as FEW times in your life as possible. Yes, I won't make the most amount of money because fixing a tooth many, many times IS PROFITABLE.

But it is not about the money for ME but about taking care of YOU.

I am on a dental forum where dentistry is a low priority for most of the people on the forum. One dentist basically called me a fool (ok it was in stronger terms than that) because by doing really great dentistry, I will make far less money and which allows the insurance company to make more profit.
If I fix a tooth twice in a patients life, I make a little money in 30 years but if I fix the same tooth six or seven times in 30 years, I will make far more money and deprive the insurance company of profits.

Do you see a YOU (the patient) in any of this explanation????

This is what I wrote on the forum 10 minutes ago:

Hi Matt;
Well it took me a night to sleep on what you are saying but I FINALLY understand.
You are saying, if I understand you,  that in order to to get back at the insurance company and limit their profit, you are advocating doing crappy dentistry.
You get the MOST money from the insurance company at the patient’s expense..
So you willing to hurt your patient so that you can be the most successful businessman.
It is like saying if we kill all the poor children, we won’t have to feed them and your taxes will be lower.
It is all about greed.
Nice
PLEASE correct me if I am misunderstand you…because I hope that I am. I hope that I have been too stupid to understand what you are saying an misinterpreted your example.
gerald 

You know I am passionate about my work...More importantly, I am more passionate about taking care of you. I will not.....EVER.... place my financial success over your best interest.

You are my reason for doing what I do.

There is absolutely a generational difference and now you can see it with your own eyes. Very troubling for me.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Wabi-Sabi

 For Richard Powell, "[w]abi-sabi nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect."[4] Buddhist author Taro Gold describes wabi-sabi as "the wisdom and beauty of imperfection."[5]

Wabi-sabi is a concept in traditional Japanese aesthetics constituting a world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete." Wikipedia

Why am I bring this up in a blog and how does this relate to my work?

I tell ALL of my patients that EVERYTHING  that I do will FAIL given enough time. I also state that the definition of a good dentist is a dentist that makes things fail at the slowest possible rate.

Yes, ok...again where is this going?

A patient called to say that my filling was 'wearing' and that I told her that my work would not wear..

First of all, I would NEVER make that statement given what I said a few sentences back. Secondly, I know for a fact that a direct resin bonded filling placed under a rubber dam is NOT going to wear in a few short years. Break? Possible because God's teeth break and anything man-made can break because humans can do stupid things with their teeth...Like ummmmm  chewing ice cubes.

Wearing of a new, or relatively new filling of 3-4 years which is how long this patient has been in my practice...is not going to happen. Could it be that one of her fillings that were placed prior to her becoming my patient is failing? Possible.

Nothing  lasts forever...and the ancient Japanese masters recognized this.

"Nothing lasts, nothing is finished and nothing is perfect."

Let's all understand this...because it is a 'perfect' concept.



Thursday, July 6, 2017

CEO of Hobby Lobby: Hypocrite

Don't you hate when someone doesn't want to do something because he or she claims that it is against their religion? A few years ago David Green, CEO of Hobby Lobby took the Federal Government to the Supreme Court over a provision of the Affordable Health Care Act. I have no problem with people of faith following their religion. As far as I am concerned, people of faith may have something to teach the rest of us about how to relate to each other.

So what is the problem with David Green and why is he a Hypocrite?

Well he imported stolen property from Iraq...specifically, artifacts that cannot be removed from the country  (Iraq) nor can they be imported into the United States.

Poor David claimed ignorance....Except experts told him that importing stolen artifacts would be illegal. He even lied when he asked that the artifacts be mislabeled to appear legal.

Laws are only for average folks like us and not for billionaires as we have recently come to see.

Now poor ignorant (by his own admission) David has probably never heard of the 10 Commandments and specifically: Thou shall not lie or steal.

Even those laws don't apply to the wealthy.....

And not even his religion could bail him out this time as he was made to return the artifacts and pay a  three million dollar fine.

Poor David...What a hypocrite.

So why am I writing a blog like this? 

Because I don't hurt patients to financially benefit  myself or my office. As you know,  our office motto is: Do The Right Thing. PERIOD.

I won't steal from you or lie to an insurance company. 

If someone does not value quality dentistry, they won't have treatment in our office. And that is ok with us.

No lying, no stealing, no cutting corners.  I will put MY Values against David Green's any day of the week.


Friday, June 23, 2017

Dirty, Lying, Stealing, Crooks

Who could I possibly be describing?

Insurance Companies of course. All they care about is profit and by denying you coverage of your benefits, they earn lots of money at YOUR expense.

Prove it, you say!!!

Remember that I told you that virtually EVERY mercury filling and Every crown that has lasted 25+ years will have leakage, tooth decay or both underneath.

EVERY ONE!!!!

I replaced two 30 year old crowns for a patient in April and we received a note from her insurance company stating that the X-Ray showed no reason to replace the crown.

But

As you all know, I photograph virtually every tooth that I fix for you. See photos below:


Look at the tooth decay on the INSIDE OF THIS CROWN
You do not have to be a dentist to see all the tooth decay on the inside of the old crown or the decay on the supporting teeth.

The Insurance Company will pay for the replacement crowns!

But now even YOU  can see why I call them Dirty, Lying, Stealing Crooks.


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Would You Like to See Great Dentistry?

This patient came to my office 3 years ago for veneers. I informed her that she was not a good candidate for veneers because too much tooth structure would have to be removed from her teeth which would weaken them dramatically. BUT, I informed her that Dr. Cooney, my orthodontist, could straighten her teeth with  Invisalign Therapy in a relatively short period of time and that it was important for her to pay him a visit.  Dr. Cooney showed the patient how he would move her teeth and what the final result would be. The patient accepted his recommendations and he successfully moved her teeth. It was then my job to remove her old mercury fillings and all the tooth decay underneath them and rebuild her teeth with very strong bonded resin fillings with no healthy tooth structure being removed. I will tell you with the highest degree of confidence that the vast majority of dentists would have placed crowns on virtually every back tooth in theses photos which, by my count would be 10-11 crowns. In my office, the total cost for crowns, if I did them would have been about $18,000-$20,000. In my office, the bonded resin fillings cost approximately $4,000. Not only did the patient save a considerable amount of money but more importantly she saved her OWN TEETH. (Aside: I thought that Dr. Benjamin is very expensive? Do the math $18,000 minus $4,000 is a saving of $14,000. I am ALWAYS offended when people say that they heard that I am very expensive.)
Sorry for the diversion.
Dr. Cooney calls this one of the most amazing cases that he has ever done and one of his favorite cases. He lectures all over the Northeast lecturing about this case and dentists are amazed by this case. I am honored to have treated this patient and to have contributed to her happiness and joy when she saw the results. And what do dentists from around the world say when I posted this case on DentalXp?  They too are amazed and I hope that you are too.


One of my colleagues wrote the following on a dental forum:
Hi Gerald,

That’s some freakin’ awesome dentistry!  The ortho call was 
obvious, but to restore all those teeth with “just” composite 
is clinically amazing.  

I would’ve likely done crowns on #’s 3, 4, 13, 14, 19, 29, and 30, 
and composites on the others needing restoration.  Frankly you saved 
the patient lots of tooth structure and money.  Congrats!

Here We Go Again

A neighbor stopped me in the hall this evening and told me that the word on the street is that I am retiring:

IT IS NOT TRUE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I AM NOT RETIRING ANY TIME SOON!!!!!!

Many of my patients are more concerned about me going away than I am.

I do my very best dentistry today, JUNE, 22 than any day in my career. Why would I retire?

For my entire 40 year career patients have expressed their fears that I would retire and 40 years later, I am still here.

By the way....was anyone else offended when the President said that he had to go all the way to Indiana to find hard working Americans.

Really?

I usually work about 50 hours a week...Is that hard enough, Mr. President?
My last vacation was 1986...Is that hard enough, Mr. President?
I don't care how you feel about the man but he has no right to be disrespectful of those of us who have worked hard our entire careers.



Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Crowns are Valued by Patients

Dentistry has done a great job with convincing patients that crowns are a very good thing and should be valued. Resin bonded fillings are a mediocre restoration and should take little time and should be cheap.

Unfortunately, the truth is just the opposite.

Crowns are the worst possible restoration for a tooth and should only be placed as a treatment of last resort when no other restoration will save a tooth. The lone exception is back teeth that have had root canals which MUST be protected with crowns.

Patients have been convinced that having a crown is a very positive thing and their insurance company usually even pays for HALF of it which further supports the belief that crowns must be a good thing.

The BEST way to save a tooth is to leave the most amount of natural tooth structure when restoring or fixing a tooth. A crown takes the MOST amount of tooth structure and dramatically weakens the tooth. So why is a crown so valued?????

Placing crowns is a good way to make money.

A good way to save teeth is for the dentist to learn to place well done bonded resin fillings under a rubber dam. Many dentists will tell you that the hole in the tooth is 'too big' for a filling...Sorry that usually means that there is a lack of talent to place a well done bonded filling under a rubber dam.

To sum up this lecture: Well done bonded resins placed with a rubber dam are highly beneficial for a tooth and crowns are highly destructive  to a tooth and should be used sparingly.

(And in my office, you can have 3 1/2 well done resin posterior fillings  for the cost of ONE CROWN.)

OK class dismissed.

(PS: I expect this blog will make many dentists very unhappy.)

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

No One Gets Bored by Compliments

I received the following card the day after I treated a patient:


I never get tired of receiving thank you cards and notes of appreciation from my patients. I have probably received hundreds of cards like this one over my career and I know that other dentists receive them as well.

What I try to do every day of my professional life is to pursue excellence and try to be one of the best dentists ever. Any dentist that does not try to be the best has become accepting of mediocrity. Most important to me is that many of my patients take notice of our efforts to deliver excellence and be as good as we could possible be.

Why would any patient want to go to a physician or dentist that does not strive to be the best?

Monday, May 29, 2017

Wow!

I just completed 40 full years as a dentist. Exactly 40 years ago today, May 29,1977, I graduated from the School of Dental Medicine, SUNY/Buffalo.

I gave Susan two presents on May 29, a gold snake neckless and a gold bracelet both of which she still has and wears. As I recall, the jewelry cost about $250 which was a fortune back then but I wanted to show Susan my appreciation for supporting me during my dental school career. About 25% of the marriages of dental students did not survive the four years and for good reason...it was a lonely 4 years for spouses.

I am thrilled to have been a dentist for 40 years and my interest has never wavered: Taking care of my patients in the best way possible.  How much longer will I be a dentist? Who knows but I am not ready to leave yet.

May 29, 1977...one of the best days of my life.

A Story That You Have Heard Before

To refresh your memory, I believe that the dental treatment that removes the least amount of natural tooth structure and yet lasts 15 + years is the best treatment for that tooth. That means that a well done direct bonded resin filling placed with a rubber dam is, in my opinion, THE BEST possible treatment especially when compared with a crown which removes ALL of the enamel and weakens the tooth dramatically.

Now remember that I have told you that in my office, a patient can have 3 1/2 resin bonded fillings for the cost of ONE crown. So if I was interested in earning the most amount of money, I would place CROWNS all day long...In reality, there are many days that all I do is well done resin bonded fillings.

Now the story:

We were in Charlotte over the Memorial Day Weekend and went to lunch with one of the other condo  owners. He is in his early 70s and retired so he enjoys spending a few hours with Susan and I. At lunch he related that he and his partner went to the ocean in South Carolina and while having lunch, he was chatting with the young waiter. "Where do you live?" my neighbor asks the young man. "Upstate NY," says the young man."  My neighbor tells the young man that he has a friend who is from  Upstate NY and asks him exactly where he lives. "Saratoga Springs" says the young man. What a coincidence my neighbor says  and asks, "Do you know Dr. Benjamin, a dentist in Saratoga Springs?"

"Oh yes, he is the dentist for wealthy people and I my family is middle class so we don't go to him."

I was shocked by the young man's response. I have probably taken care of more patients for 30+ years than any other dentist in the Capital District and NOT one of those patients could be described as wealthy. The overwhelming majority of my patients  throughout my career have ALWAYS been middle class.  Yes, the last few years I do have some very wealthy patients in my practice but that is the rare exception and not the rule.

Again, a dentist does not become very wealthy conserving natural tooth structure but does so by cutting down as many teeth for crowns as is possible  and ethical.

My goal is help you and  your family keep all of your teeth all of your life. It has never been about maximizing my income.  In fact, I have NEVER had a conversation with my staff about earning more money...It just doesn't interest me.

I feel bad that my reputation is that I only treat wealthy folks.

Dental Inequality

The Washington Post recently ran a story about inequality in America with dental care a strong indication of how separate and unequal our country has become. The full article can be read here:

http://theweek.com/articles/701396/lets-talk-about-dental-inequality-america

I have identified three things that the middle class had in common beginning in the late 1950s and extending to the early 1970s:

1. The middle class ate meat every day...Prior to the late 1950-60s only the wealthy ate meat everyday.
2. The middle class sent their kids to college, also available to only the wealthy.
3. The middle class started going to the dentist on a regular basis in order to maintain their teeth. Prior to this, many folks lost their teeth by their late 20s and early 30s. This was primarily due to the fact that unions had obtained dental insurance for their members. People were tired of seeing their middle age parents take out their teeth and place them in a glass.

There is no doubt that going to the dentist on a regular basis can be a luxury for many that find it hard to pay their bills. My parents sent my sister and I to the dentist every six months and we always had our cavities filled.

So what has happened in the intervening 40-50 years?
1. Dental insurance which used to pay for 8 1/2 crowns every year doesn't even pay for one crown a year...Blame employers who don't care whether their employees have teeth or not.
2. The middle class became less interested in taking care of their teeth and more interested in having larger homes and more than 5 TVs in their homes.
3. Young adults wanted to spend their money on cell phones, cars and vacations.

None of this is a good thing. The middle class must value its health including their teeth. Pulling teeth in children's mouths is a sin.

What is the answer?

A good start is making the very wealthy pay federal taxes. Our President is not the only billionaire who didn't pay federal taxes for 20 years. Every working citizen should pay taxes so that we can help everyone afford a minimum level of dental care.

What do you think?

Friday, May 26, 2017

False Equivalency

Most people assume that a physician is a physician and a dentist is a dentist. This is NOT in anyone's best interest and certainly not in the interest of someone that is desperate for good care.

I went to a fabulous small dinner party yesterday and met most of the people there for the first time. When the person sitting next to me realized that I was a dentist, she asked me my opinion about her cosmetic dentistry.

Am I a 'good' dentist? Am I 'good' at cosmetic dentistry? The person sitting next to me has no idea what quality of dentistry that I do and yet she feels that ANY ole dentist can offer a valid opinion about dentistry.

Why is this? You all know that I try to find the best physicians, surgeons and dentists to take care of ME. I would never ask a health professional an opinion unless I knew in advance that he or she was top notch in their area of treatment. I do not believe that a doctor is a doctor and never have.

YOU cannot get the best health care if you ask just anybody to take care of you. False equivalency  i.e. believing that all doctors are the same...can kill you.

Friday, May 12, 2017

The Inside Story

Patients think that when they go to discount or Corporate owned dental offices (Example: Aspen) that they are getting the same EXACT quality of dental care that their local dentist provides but only cheaper.

Not even close.

The best dentists take care of their patients and are paid a commensurate fee for excellence. Corporate dental offices take care of profits by treating lots of people and performing the maximum amount of dentistry.

One way that Corporate dental practices keep their fees lower  is by mandating that the dentist only use certain labs that are also primarily concerned with profit rather than quality.

This article in the Dallas Morning News is about the closing of dental laboratories in Texas because Corporate and Insurance based dentists are forced to use overseas labs.

https://www.pressreader.com/usa/the-dallas-morning-news/20170511/282458528877540

If your insurance company doesn't care about quality...and it doesn't
And Corporate Dental Offices don't care about quality

Then who is going to care about YOU?

There is a fine line between maximizing profits and providing great care to your patient.

In our office taking care of our  patients is our primary concern.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

115 Years is Nothing

This past February, I wrote a blog about about three patients that had been my patient for a total of 115 years. Well two weeks ago, we saw 9 patients in ONE DAY each of whom had been in our office a MINIMUM of 30 YEARS. All combined, the total time treating these patients was about 300 YEARS.

Also, last week, one of my patients told her physician that she had an up coming dental appointment. The doctor asked my patient who her dentist was and when my patient mentioned my name, she also said that I had taken care of her for 33 years. The doctor was stunned that a patient would stay with the same dentist for more than three decades.

I am so honored to have cared for thousands of patients for a very long time. It speaks volumes for both you and I. I care for you and you care about me.. We are both very lucky.

My Staff

Everyone knows that I believe that I have the best staff...The most knowledgeable, the most caring of our patients and the most loyal. I believe that it is my job to be the best  employer  that I can as well as trying to be the best clinician that I can (Please note Dental Societies: I did NOT say that I was the best dentist.)

We do our best to function as a well oiled machine. More importantly we do our best to be a family. This means that we have great concern for each other.  I care for my staff and they care for me; and we all care for our patients.

We saw two new patients this week that came to our office after they met Trish, our hygienist, while she was shopping in the stores where they worked. They were both impressed by how Trish enjoyed working in our office and how highly she spoke of the level of dentistry that we provide.

Both patients were truly excited to become one of our patients.

This is what our office strives for. We all LOVE what we do and we try to do the best dentistry when we take care of you.

Our office is not for every dental patient and we know that. Just as my staff and I believe that our office is special, we also believe that our patients are just as special. You all have an understanding that quality dentistry is important and that you will search, research and investigate until you find a dental practice that meets your needs and expectations.

My staff is a large part of providing excellence in order to meet your needs, wants and expectations.