Ever since I started my AEGD residency following dental school, I have loved continuing education. I’ve always sought new courses, new educators, new techniques. But for me, the most impactful educational experience was taking The Essentials courses at The Pankey Institute.
Not only did I learn about the complex temporomandibular and masticatory system, perhaps more importantly, I gained the skill and confidence I needed to tackle complex esthetic cases and truly found my sweet spot in dentistry.
Finding My Way in Dentistry
I am a bread and butter general dentist. However, my favorite cases are the ones that have the capacity to change someone’s smile, to make them not only healthier and more beautiful, but most importantly, improve their confidence. Once I gained these skills I wanted to implement them into my practice as soon as possible, but unfortunately I tripped over a few stumbling blocks before I found the right way to do that.
I remember one particular patient I had who really could have benefitted from some esthetic dentistry. I spent hours mounting the case, cropping and organizing photos, even waxing up anterior teeth on a model to show him the dramatic esthetic improvement I could make to his smile. That patient was engaged and listened to everything I had to say.
He came back for his second consult, asked questions, but at the end of the day never pursued treatment. I learned a valuable lesson in that case and numerous others. When I stopped presenting the treatment I thought patients needed and instead let them tell me what they wanted, I started closing cases.
As a part of my comprehensive exam, after the radiographs, the periodontal probings, the hard and soft tissue exam, and often clinical photography, I simply ask the patient, “Is there anything about the way your teeth look that you would like to change?”