Is your practice disaster-proof? Hollywood celebrates dentistry

Dear DrBicuspid Member,

The California Dental Association fall meeting in San Francisco last week was a great opportunity to catch up with old friends and brush up on continuing education. The staff was there too, covering some of the most engaging and informative sessions.

For example, Thursday's day-long seminar on Caries Management by Risk Assessment emphasized the need for dentists to stop acting like mechanics and start acting like doctors. The key, the speakers said, is to figure out which patients are most likely to get caries, then work to modify their diet and prescribe fluoride, xylitol, chlorhexidine, and calcium phosphate.

"I would venture to say that the people in this room have never ever used antibacterial therapy for caries," said panelist John Featherstone, M.Sc., Ph.D., dean of the University of California, San Francisco School of Dentistry. Read more.

Friday's session on "Great Answers to Tough Questions" addressed some of the most common -- and annoying -- questions your patients ask, and offered suggestions on how to answer them more effectively. The key to good communication starts with being a good listener, according to presenter Robin Wright. For more tips, click here.

One of the most entertaining sessions at the meeting focused on nutrition, of all things. Presenter Warren Karp, D.M.D., Ph.D., used wit and practical wisdom to dispel what he calls the "nutrition quackery" that too many dentists and patients embrace. Heed his warnings here.

Speaking of entertaining, this week marks the release of "Ghost Town," a new movie in which the lead character is a practicing dentist. Senior Editor Laird Harrison talked with the creators of the film, which stars British actor Ricky Gervais as the dentist who is haunted by a bevy of ghosts after a near-death experience. In addition, Nickelodeon is set to launch a new TV series about a dentist and his family. Is Hollywood finally giving dentistry the respect it deserves? Read more.

Finally, our thoughts go out to all of those members and their friends and families affected by the recent hurricanes and tropical storms on the East Coast and in the Gulf. Find out how Hurricanes Katrina and Gustav affected one New Orleans dentist, and how another dentist in Michigan is rebuilding after a fire destroyed his office earlier this year. Their stories raise the question -- how disaster-proof is your practice?

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