Monday, January 23, 2017

Alternative Facts (Not political)

We should never lie about something that can be counted, measured or photographed because that is a record. Also we should not tell big lies about meaningless things. And then we should not invent new words that mean  "a lie."

Our government tried to get us...all of us and not just his supporters...that the Inauguration on Friday was THE BEST ATTENDED  Inauguration of all time.

Houston we have a problem:

1. The photographs don't agree with that statement
2. The total days ridership of the Metro train system doesn't agree with the government's statement
3. The statement that the white sheets to protect the grass in the Mall had never been used before in an Inauguration was a 'factual' lie...We have the photos of the 2013 Inauguration.

My concern and it should be yours as well: Why lie to Citizens about something that is small, petty and meaningless.

Will OUR government lie to us about other, important events?

This is NOT a political argument. This is NOT a Democrat or Conservative argument.

Why would government lie about stupid stuff that no one cares about and that would have been forgotten by Saturday morning had the President not Tweeted?

So now when your boss or your children don't tell you the truth is it ok for them to say that they are just presenting ALTERNATIVE FACTS to you... Back in the day you would have lost your allowance and been grounded for a month.

So much to think about.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Mrs. Estabrooks

The Medical Confidentiality regulations expire on death so I can tell you about one of my patients that I have cared for for almost  4 decades.

Mrs. Estabrooks became our patient in 1978 or so. She lived close to Cropseyville, NY where my first office was located as did the vast majority of our earliest patients. She was a moderately well known local artist and showed her work around the area.

She was always a delight to treat and she trusted us implicitly to take care of her which is why she hadn't lost a tooth during the first almost 30 years that we took care of her.

My favorite Saturday night restaurant in Troy was the Italia as was Mrs. Estabrooks. Susan and I would see her and and another  artist friend dining at the Italia almost every time we ate there. Sometimes I would buy their dinner and sometimes I would just send over the dessert for both of them. I don't think that they budgeted in the desserts. lol

Mrs. Estabrooks actually became a friend and not 'just' a patient. Yes she could could be feisty at times when at the office but we all loved her over the long period of time that we cared for her.

When I moved to Saratoga Springs, Mrs. Estabrooks came with us even if she had to take a
'medical cab' or have her son, Frank bring her. In fact, I just saw her a few short weeks ago to fix a tooth.

I am honored to have cared for Mrs. Estabrooks for all these decades. She passed away last week at age 93...

Enjoy the rest of the trip, Mrs. Estabrooks. ( I could never call her 'Carolyn.')

A record

We have had more new patients in the month of January than at any time in our practise's history... Most  of the new  patients have selected our office to take care of their usual dental needs: cleanings, fillings, and x-rays...

People don't usually associate our office as a 'regular dental office' and only think about us when they hear about 'cosmetic dentistry' or advanced, complex or large cases. The reality is, that the great overwhelming number of our patients see us as their 'regular dentist'  especially the large number of people who have been my patient for 25,30 or 35 years.

My forte is providing excellence in conservative, strong and long lasting direct resins which is what the overwhelming majority of dental patients want and their teeth NEED.

When I informed one of the other business owners at 18 Division Street of our monthly record, she asked me, "WHY do you think that is?"  And then she answered her own question:

"Reputation and word of mouth."

There are other reasons as well: Constant monthly marketing is one BUT I think that the real reason, I think,  is that many folks are getting tired of "average dentistry" which relies on crowning many teeth that ultimately destroys those same teeth especially if the patient is 20, 30 or 40 years old.

I believe and I hope that most new patients sincerely want excellence in restorative dentistry i.e. fixing teeth. I would also hope that my reputation is  one of: honesty, integrity and high ethical standards.

For what ever reason, thank you for selecting our office for your dental care. I will do my best never to disappoint you.

PS: Yes we did get a few of the cosmetic and complex cases as well.

Am I the Only One? (Not Political)

The election is over and the inauguration has come and gone.

Am I the only one who was offended by the President saying that the CARNAGE is over?

So I looked up the word "carnage" and found:


carnage ‎(usually uncountableplural carnages)
  1. Death and destruction.
  2. What remains after a massacre, e.g. the corpses or gore.
  3. (figuratively, slang) Any chaotic situation [quotations ▼]


Has anyone seen a massacre anywhere? Do we have blood and bodies laying in the streets?

Despite our crime, gangs and drugs, we remain one of the safest countries on earth.

I am offended when our President uses such a terrible word to describe Your Country and Mine. I had hoped for a speech that would unite our divided nation so that we can move forward together to achieve greater economic and social growth.

Most of the commentators called the speech, "Dark." I thought that it was disappointing because I expect more from our leaders.

Maybe it's me.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Does Anyone Understand What It Means to Be Ethical? (NOT Political)

"Do the Right Thing" is my office motto (see that saying on our card holders in our office.) and the over riding philosophy in my office.

In 2013 Congress forced itself to observe the same rules that you and I have to follow. You can't buy stock on inside information that your brother in law gave you about the company that he works for...Similarly, members of Congress cannot buy stock based on information that they learn about a company during hearings or investigations....Seems fair to me.

So the man who wants to be the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, a Congressman, has some pretty shady dealings in his recent past according to CNN:

On January 16, 2017, CNN reported that Price had purchased shares in Zimmer Biomet, a medical devices company. Less than a week after the stock purchase, Price introduced legislation, the HIP Act, that would delay a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services regulation until 2018. Industry analysts had warned that those regulations would significantly hurt the company's finances. Following the introduction of the HIP Act, Zimmer Biomet's political action committee made a donation to Price's reelection campaign.[63]

And did you know that the Congressman sits on the Congressional ETHICS COMMITTEE?

I am sorry but if you don't know right from wrong, what the hell are you doing writing laws for the rest of us to follow?

Maybe it's just me.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Top 100 Jobs in America

CNN and US News and World Reports recently published lists of the top 100 jobs in America.

All of us knows that the best job in America is probably an NFL quarterback preferably from Boston ($40 million) or the CEO of Aetna Insurance  (again ~$40 million) or perhaps the CEO of Facebook or Apple.

Instead, the media gives us a list of jobs that you and I can have like computer software writer or actuary...Let's not fool each other, most of us do not have one of the top jobs in America.

That said, I believe that I DO have one of the best jobs in the country. I know, I know, 70-80% of dentists don't love being a dentist..

I LOVE fixing teeth.

I really feel sorry for other dentists that hate what they do. I can understand why that is if I would put myself in their position:

1. The don't enjoy the trust and affection of their patients
2. They hate insurance companies telling them what to do and how much to charge
3. They don't like their staff because there is no loyalty on either side
4. The labs that make their crowns don't do a good job possibly because they dentist wants to pay as little to the lab as possible.
5. Their patients constantly cancel their appointments.

Fortunately, I don't have any of these problems.

I love being a dentist and would be a dentist again. If I could, I would place dentist at the top of either of the lists of best jobs...Please, don't you think that I believe my job is more fun and more rewarding than being an actuary?

Next time you want to find a new dentist, ask him or her if they LOVE being a dentist.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Mentoring the Next Generation of Dentists...Even When They Are Not in America

Dr. Ashok, from Bangalore, India, has studied with me either in person at my office or via email for almost a decade. He has worked very hard to learn the concepts of complex restorative dentistry (fixing teeth and restoring implants from very simple to very complex) from me. Sometimes he becomes frustrated because some of his patients cannot understand what he is trying to do for them. Also, many of his Indian colleagues make fun of him for trying to learn more than most of the other dentists.

But his "American dental education" through me is starting to make a difference in his career  and for his patients. Today he sent me the following email:

"You know what happened in one case Dr.Gerald, i had shown this case to you before, he is a 40 plus year old patient, anteriors were spacing, and he didnt have proper occlusion and he had sorness in joint,  and he had advised by many dentists to go for extractions and implants , after my consultation, according to your advise, after mounting the case in CR, i came to know that rt and left 3rd molars are the culprits, these teeth were hitting and gliding the mandible forward to create the anterior space, i advised him to go for extraction and those teeth, NOW i cant believe my self, 2 days back he came for check up, now his posterior occlusion is settled down, he so happy, and he said he can chew perfectly and he can feel that he go a solid occlusion, his joint pain is vanished. After removing those 2 culprits, nature has adjusted its occlusion by it self, really great, I told that pt, that i am learning this topic from you and because of your mentoring i could able to do that, he thanked you too. Now i will start ortho to correct his anterior teeth and then restorative work. None of the previous dentists had advised him to analyse the case after mounting in CR in a semiadjustable articulator with a face bow, ( first of all they didnt have one). Thanks very much, best regards, Ashok."

In simple terms, he said that he is using some of the very complex ideas of diagnosis about function that I have taught him and his patients are benefiting from his treatment. This, even though all of the previous dentists that his patients went to NEVER were able to solve their problems.

My legacy, if I am to have one, will be how well the young dentists that I have mentored  are able to take care of their own patients.

It is a great honor that you have selected our office to take care of you and that you trust our advice. 

I sincerely thank you.

I Have Heard This Before....But Still Love Hearing It

I have told you many times that many patients who have been in our practice for decades have a few characteristics that they share:

1. They virtually have every tooth that they had when they became my patient 25,30 or 35 years ago.
2. They have very few crowns on their teeth which, as you know, doesn't strengthen teeth but weakens them tremendously.
3. Many/Most of my patients no longer have silver/mercury fillings in their mouths because metals, when heated by coffee, tea or hot pizza cause teeth to micro fracture and eventually break.

With this is mind:

A long time patient...about a quarter of a century...was in on Monday for her regular cleaning and check up appointment. She told Trish and I that she decided to change her physician and last week was her first visit with him for her 'annual physical.' During the exam, the doctor looked in her mouth and asked in amazement, "Are those your own teeth?" And my patient told him that they are which he followed with, "And WHO is your dentist?"  "Dr. Gerald Benjamin, of course." Now mind you, this patient is NOT one of my 'cosmetic patients' and doesn't have any veneers. And she doesn't have a single crown in her mouth... Just 10-15 very strong bonded resin fillings with some being 20 years old.

People know when they see our patients that something is different about their teeth.

Thank you for telling other people about our office...They will thank you someday.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

New Year Resolutions and/or Goals

Simply put: I have none...

I have never made a New Years Resolution because  I evaluate and re-evalute throughout the year.


The majority of dentists that I know have goals that involve making money...Sorry, but that does not interest me...When you set goals that involve money, there is a distinct possibility that money takes priority over taking care of patients....Not going to happen in my office.

In 1992, I took my first Continuing Education course which happened to be about Cosmetic Dentistry and was held in New York City...After 3 days in NY, I told myself that I was going to learn how to do the dentistry that I saw in the course AND I wanted to become one of the best at it...Looking back, that was a pretty arrogant and brash statement coming from someone who knew NOTHING  about Cosmetic Dentistry.

My GOAL was to learn Cosmetic Dentistry and to that end, I used to work 3 weeks a month and spend a week in Buffalo, Seattle, NY or Chicago studying with the best in the world.. Month after month and year after year. To date I have taken about 6500 (or more) hours of education at a cost of about $6.5 million...

In 1999, in San Antonio, Texas, I won the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry Smile Contest, the most prestigious clinical contest in the world. There were 5 winners that year and I was one of them...

Long time ago...

As you see, my goals always involve becoming a better dentist so that I can care for you, the best that I can...

Making money??? Doesn't really interest me...and never has.

Chatting on Facebook

I monitor Facebook several times a week but virtually never post anything there. Occasionally, I see someone who is on Facebook and who is chatting with others. If I know someone well, I may say hello in real time but usually, I just take note who is online.

Yesterday, a very well respected dentist in Atlanta, Ga saw that I was on Facebook and messaged me with a Happy New Year. I have known Arun for many years and he enjoys high regard by those of us who know restorative dentistry...but I only know him from being on the same dental forums. Last year he invited me to present some of my completed Cosmetic Cases for use on an online site for the public with the possibility that a hard copy book might also be published.

This morning Arun wrote:

"I admire your dedication and passion for great dentistry
You are a unique gift to dentistry
Well thank you very much
We need to meet before we get old!"

That was such a kind statement to make.

I am truly honored by Arun's statement and do my very best everyday  to take care of you in the best possible way. 

Truth be told: my passion is to taking care of YOU.

Friday, January 6, 2017

So How Did We Do?

The year 2016 was both a good and a bad year for our office.

Donna was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer which had a distinctly negative effect on our office. We had to worry about Donna and we had to change things around so that we could function without her and yet still allow her to return after she recovers. Trust me, this has been a big challenge.

We had a good year in that we continue to attract the kind of dental patient who wants and demands excellence in dental care. We have had more 'regular' dental patients AND more specialty  (cosmetic, implant or full mouth rehabilitation) dental patients than at any time in our practices history.

I am truly honored by the patients who have selected our office  to take care of them.

Did I make the most amount of money in my career last year? 

Nope... I really don't care about that.

What I do care about is providing the best care that I can for those patients that want excellence. So I must be doing something right.

THANK YOU for allowing us to take care of you!

5 Killed and 8 Wounded at Ft. Lauderdale Airport


I am tired of the story...The names, the reasons, the number of people and the places all change but we have become numb to these stories.

I don't care any more...If we aren't going to change something to protect ourselves in public places, I don't want CNN and other TV stations to spend significant amounts of time talking about it. Most of us don't care any more.

When we want to talk about solutions....(any solution), I am ready to listen. Otherwise, it's getting pretty boring.

Don't you think?

Roundly Criticized for Demanding Excellence

One would think that a dental forum would represent dentists who love what they do, want to do their best and show concern for their patients.

Unfortunately, I am on a dental forum where none of the above is APPARENTLY true.( Note: This is NOT DENTALXP which is, in my opinion, one of the finest dental forums and is  truly dedicated to excellence.

Don't you think it is strange that when I post about excellence in dentists that people call me 'anal' about practicing dentistry. So what do you think I am demanding that dentist do when they treat patients? Use a rubber dam!!!! Really????? The single most important thing that a dentist can do to practice excellence in restorative dentistry is to use a rubber dam, just like we were taught in dental school....Every school and every dental student.

And what else defines excellence in restorative dentistry i.e. fixing teeth?

When you fix front teeth, the best and finest dentists IN THE WORLD use a layered technique. A layered technique means that first you use a very strong resin and over the top of that you put a resin that you can polish for a very high, long lasting shine...It is no big deal BUT:

1. The materials (resins) cost a lot more
2. It takes more time to restore the tooth
3. It takes significantly more TALENT to restore the tooth.

But that IS what excellence is about...Doing your best...Not the easiest and not the cheapest.

So I get roundly criticized for demanding and practicing excellent dentistry...............


But isn't that why you WANT me to take care of you???

To do my best for you?

"I Don't Want You to Feel Old But...."

My first patient on Wednesday said to me, "I don't want you to feel old but....You have  taken care of 4 GENERATIONS of my family...Grandfather, Mother, Me and my Son.

After we talked for a while she added, "We come to you because we trust you and are comfortable with you.

This is an old fashioned standard for selecting physicians, dentists and lawyers to take care of you or your family. You could call up these people any time you felt that you needed their help.

Today, I am not sure there is a standard for hiring people..

"Do you accept my insurance? is not a standard and has nothing to do with how well a dentist can fix your teeth.

"You are close to my work so I thought that I would come to you." is not a standard.

Without standards how can we select the right people to take care of us?

This is a very important question that needs your thought.