Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Don't Be a Shaquille O'Neal Dentist

So the NBA playoffs are in full swing and I just couldn't help watching some of the games while other life priorities were banging on my door.  Nonetheless, something occurred to me while watching the end of a few games.  A component of basketball seems to share a tremendous parallel with dentistry; Free throws.

How, might you ask, do free throws have anything to do with dentistry? Great question.

There are more than a few 7 figure athletes who have less than stellar free throw percentages. Harken back to the "Hack-a-Shaq" days when teams would slow down the legendary Shaquille O'neal by making him shoot free throws, which he was notoriously bad at shooting. A lifetime .527 free throw percentage means that this man, who made 15 all star teams, and  was only one of 3 players ever to win an NBA MVP, All-Star game MVP and Finals MVP in the same year, was almost as likely to miss a free throw as he was to make it. How could anyone possibly be considered a complete player when one can't consistently make the only uncontested shot in basketball from only 15 feet away? Alas, there are many who don't consider Shaquille O'neal a complete player for just this reason even though he's a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame.

But I digress. Back to dentistry...

How many dentists work their tails off training to prep the best crowns or place implants perfectly, or travel to 3 day courses for $6000, or hone their smile analysis techniques or practice management ideas and NEVER take their clinical photography seriously. I'm referring to the overwhelming majority of dentists who, like Shaq, view a part of their profession as something they will simply accept as being inferior to the rest of their skill?

I am beseiged with daily questions from dentists with "cosmetic" "implant" "esthetic" (and a whole other array of adjectives ) practices.  I've gone to their websites which scream their accolades and how much better they are than the rest of the dentists out there. Yet, these same dentists ask me simple questions about clinical photography (no shame there) but when I offer suggestions that require just a modicum of work, they say that images aren't that important to them. How can anyone be incredibly proud of their dentistry and not be willing to take literally a few hours to practice their photographic skill? Not only will it let you learn more about your dentistry by doing retrospective analyses of your work, but properly used, can help your practice grow immensely.

How many times have you sat in lectures of world renown lecturers only to see a photographic misrepresentation of the occlusal plane or Angle's classification. Somehow we look past these very real problems in records to ogle the beautiful porcelain or gorgeous soft tissue. I'm not saying that porcelain or soft tissue don't matter. On the contrary, they are the things that help us strive to become better clinicians. However, how many clinicians, who are WAY better than I will ever be, refuse to use an SLR because it's "too heavy" or their staff doesn't want to use it. Or perhaps they're willing to learn intricate grafting procedures but don't want to take 15 minutes to learn how to use simple histograms, the key to consistent lighting and great depth of field.

In the end, you WILL be judged on the quality of your images. Don't you want to be viewed as a "complete" clinician? Or, would you rather shoot 50% on the easiest of clinical procedures to master?

It's really your choice and best of all, you're not alone. I'm happy to help in any way possible. Just ask.

Best Wishes,

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