The Articulate Dentist - A Blog by the Metro Denver Dental Society

Another Trip Around the Sun

By: Dr. Patrick Prendergast

As summer approaches so does the changing of the Guard at MDDS and a bit of reflection as to where we’ve been and what lies ahead. We all expected a year of continued change and a bit of “whitewater”, and we weren’t disappointed!

This year brought a return to in-person gatherings, and while most were masked, you could appreciate colleagues smiling with their eyes…joyful to simply be together again. We all have been impacted by the difficulty of restarting our lives, businesses, the country and the world. Hopefully, this lesson is a long-remembered one, as we now learn about the many repercussions a worldwide shutdown created.

As we try to anticipate the next few years in the dental profession, some elements seem particularly interesting. It is clear the trend toward DSOs and employee dentists is accelerating. We must ensure the dentists working in these settings are welcomed into the profession. We live in a land of unbridled opportunity; we have the freedom to work as hard as we wish and create a unique future for ourselves and our families. When the State of Colorado granted us a license to practice dentistry, that license came with both opportunity and responsibility. We are granted the privilege to work on human beings, to cut into their bodies to alleviate disease and attempt to restore health for the betterment of their lives. But as with all opportunities, it is never guaranteed and can be easily lost if not treated with the respect it deserves.

One of the most recent developments that illustrate this lesson is Colorado’s legislative move toward Mid-Level Providers. Regardless of your opinion on this development, the change will affect you the doctor. This bill, which may be law by the time you read this column, very clearly demonstrates our laws can and will change, and these changes impact all of us. This also provides an opportunity for each of us to learn more about the Colorado Dental Association (CDA) and its Governmental Relations Council (GRC). I encourage you to take a moment (or several) to learn how much effort the GRC put in with the State Legislature to bring educational standards and public safeguards into this controversial bill. If you were not aware of the tremendous time put in by your colleagues and the CDA, please educate yourself. Once again, as during the height of the pandemic, your membership dues were spent responsibly.

Another issue that has come to the forefront is the changes in how dentists classify one another. While dentists have worked in different practice modes for generations and have been of all ages for just as long, today dentists feel the need to separate into categories within dentistry. When we choose to identify with New Dentists, Academic Dentists, Corporate Dentists, Private Practice Dentists, or dental groups based specifically on our culture or ethnicity…we need to ensure that we don’t inadvertently exclude ourselves from the broad and inclusive family of the profession of Dentistry. We need to ensure we don’t limit who we listen to, who we associate with, what we believe and what we think other people believe. We need to ensure we don’t withdraw from the body of cooperation and collegiality that has given this profession so much voice and respect. As individuals, it is easy to think of other dentists as competitors instead of colleagues. As rivals to be defeated versus professionals to learn from and lean upon. One of the biggest lessons we can all learn is we are our own greatest competition, our actions create the good and bad in our lives, and finally, dentistry done in its highest form is difficult and provides plenty of challenge to each of us. Let’s make this coming year a revival of respect for our profession and the people dedicating their lives to it. We can only improve ourselves, but those changes can dramatically alter the world.

It has been a great honor to serve as MDDS President this year. We are blessed to have an incredible team at MDDS who work tirelessly for us, our profession and our practices. You are in great hands with Dr. Janie Boyesen and the MDDS Board for the 2022/2023 year, and I wish each of you success and happiness in
this profession.