More and Better Dentistry

By Paul H. Belding, D.D.S.
Waucoma, Iowa
Dentistry as a profession is only concerned with dentistry; dentistry of the past, dentistry of the present and dentistry of the present and dentistry of the future. A dentist may be a musician, a philosopher, a social reformer or what not, yet, in the last analysis the sole objective of the organization for which the profession stands, is more and better dentistry.
Factors that tend to demoralize a profession are many and varied. Some are due to internal strife and dissension while others may be attributed to extraneous forces. The former should readily respond to patient and intelligent leadership; while the latter will prove tryingly recalcitrant to the most forceful opposition that can be offered by an un-allied profession.
The controversial points of internal strife, though apparently insignificant in themselves, may have grave potentialities; for, like the little snow ball from whence great avalanches are borne, they speed down the incline of dissension with ever-increasing momentum, carrying all before them, recognizing neither friend nor foe, their whole force bent on DESTRUCTION; their ultimate destination, OBLIVION.
When controversial issues are to be approached, it is well to bear in mind that valor is seldom the best part of wisdom and that strategy and prudence are not necessarily the tools of the coward. Wisdom points to demoralizing issues and in a deliberate, yet unhesitating, manner proceeds with a campaign of honest endeavor, in which tolerance, strategy and prudence are her most effective weapons; and without precipitate valor, without rancor, she ACHIEVES, yet leaves no wreckage in her wake.
Wisdom then makes it imperative that undesirable factors be investigated for the destiny of any organization, whether it be decadence of progress, will be largely determined by the material success of its individual members?
There is apparently a valid reason for the many complains coming from the practicing members of our profession. Over 32,000 dentists responded to an educational program sponsored by a manufacturer of a non-accepted product. For how much longer can this voice be denied? Furthermore, is it not significant that the last few years have seen a pronounced diminution in the income of the individuals actively engaged in the practice of dentistry? This fact should be viewed with alarm even by the most optimistic and must prompt wholesome retrospection in the thoughtful. It is only the stupid who are unmindful of the many beneficial changes that have been brought about by the tireless efforts of our educators and, certainly, it is only the selfish who would have it otherwise.
Dentistry is a greatly improved profession, yet, is it not true that the most priceless works of man have been looked on by their creators with dissatisfaction; and is it not also true that even some of our most skilled dentists never attain that degree of proficiency whereby they can view their own work with complete satisfaction? Is it not then possible that the A.D.A. could attain a larger degree of satisfaction for its individual members if it would consistently endeavor to recognize imperfection as it actually exists and then with wisdom and fore-thought, devise means that will be most effective in the amelioration of the objectionable; yet recognizing that perfection, though to be striven for, is never to be attained.
Trivialities must not be magnified to the point where they obscure the purpose for which our profession stands, which is, primarily, for MORE AND BETTER DENTISTRY, In this connection it might be mentioned that one of the most vital issues of the day is the relation of the ethical members of the dental profession to the commercials interests connected with the profession. Furthermore, a perusal of the advertisements carried in lay magazines should convince the most skeptical that the ethical commercial interests also have their problems.
The subject of more and better dentistry should receive an increasingly larger share of the external activities of the American Dental Association. Dentistry, in contrast to medicine, has apparently not reached that stage of maturity that permits a generally agreed upon rationale of procedure. Thus a dentist practicing prophylactic odontotomy in New York State is abreast of the times, while a dentist attempting this practice in certain other localities is frowned upon as if he were a non-accepted dentifrice. We should agree among ourselves as to what is correct.