Dentists and Botox: Why not?

By Helaine Smith, DMD, MBA

December 2, 2009 -- Editor's note: Helaine Smith's column, The Mouth Physician, appears regularly on the DrBicuspid.com advice and opinion page, Second Opinion.

I was impressed to see that The Greater New York Dental Meeting this year had sessions every day on learning to use and incorporate Botox into the dental practice. I attended a great Botox course at the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry meeting this past spring, and the instructor joked, "We M.D.'s are happy you dentists fell asleep at the wheel; this is your domain and you should be doing fillers and Botox."

I agree. I do not understand why dentists think Botox is out of our area of expertise. If you take the time to attend comprehensive continuing education courses, you will see the extraordinary work our fellow dental clinicians are doing with sinus lifts and the use bone marrow and platelet-rich plasma in conjunction with bone grafting. These procedures are riskier than Botox, but for some reason many dental organizations and opinion leaders do not endorse them, thus perpetuating the concept that we are not real doctors.

In the past 15 years, the technology and research advances in our profession have been staggering and at times overwhelming, both from both a financial standpoint and learning curve. There are many new paradigms in patient care, and it is not fair to patients not to understand these treatment advances.

I have always believed that education is an investment, not an expense. I have invested over $100,000 in continuing education during the past nine years. It has been extremely beneficial to my practice and my professional growth and development.

A dental license only provides us with the bare minimum skills to treat our patients. And doing the same thing over and over for 20 years gives us 20 years of one year's worth of experience. Yes, I am talking to all of you still using dycal and pins. I know you are out there.

Many dentists do not know what they do not know, and defend their methods of practicing out of fear. Dentistry has risen to an extremely complex level in all types of the procedures we perform. For years dental practices could float with the tide and get away with not implementing best-practice methods. The tide has changed so rapidly due to the economic climate and the advances in dentistry that many of these practices are now struggling because they resisted change.

Perhaps if more dentists took better continuing education courses and learned what's really new in dentistry, we would all rise above the level of being tooth plumbers and enter the exciting world of the mouth physician.

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DrBicuspid.com, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.


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