PLAN FOR THE FUTURE OF THE DENTAL PROFESSION

Hello to everybody in Australia and around the world,
A heartfelt and genuine thanks to those many people in Australia and elsewhere who responded (and continue to respond) so positively to my email.

Joseph Allbeury’s (e-LABORATE) call for a THINK TANK and a ‘plan’ is a very good one and is agreed with by everyone. To that end, Georges Sara…wow…what can we say to you but THANK YOU for your generous offer. What a wonderful step forward. Please see Georges’ offer at the conclusion of this letter.

Here are some facts, followed by thoughts for a plan that we can now further build upon together.

Fact 1 -There is now absolutely no doubt what-so-ever that there exists amongst a great many people a real, even urgent desire, to change (improve) the direction of the dental profession.

Fact 2 – We have already started a ‘plan’ because all plans that involve more than one person must start with, and cannot survive without, communication. More words have been communicated about the declining plight of the dental profession by you (the plural ‘you’) in the last few weeks than altogether in the last many years. Without positive and productive ongoing communication no plan can exist and no plan can succeed. Therefore, we already have a great start.

Fact 3 – It is well proven and beyond argument that governments and the media have little interest in our profession and ignore us virtually completely. When the media do make comment about dentistry it is, in the vast majority of instances, decidedly negative…..and this ongoing negativity only further entrenches the continuing downward spiral of the public perception toward the profession.

Fact 4 – It is widely agreed that the crisis the profession is in is of our own making. The public, the national media, and governments (in fact, entire parliaments) have ignored us because we have for decades been in a stalemate and stagnant position and therefore for decades we have had nothing new and better to offer them. Everything that we have done in the past has, collectively, resulted in where we are now – therefore it can only be us, as an encompassing profession, who must modernise ourselves in order to bring to the media (and therefore the public and governments) something new and exciting to which they and the pubic can agree with and identify to – and therefore more positively respond.

This brings us back to fact 1.

Realistic Goals & Objectives:

1 – The most important long term and sustainable goal/objective must be to reverse the general public perception of the dental profession from derision and avoidance (as it clearly is now in many countries) to respect and admiration. To achieve that we must bring, as a cohesive professional entity, the true value and worth of quality team dentistry into the general public awareness. That way the general public may choose to stay at home rather than go off shore for their dental care – and therefore they may visit your establishment and/or use your services and products. In other words, additional business and therefore additional and ‘measureable’ (courtesy and thanks Chantelle Adams, OHPA) employment and profit growth.

PLAN – To continue to build on the rapidly rising level of communication and discussion by inviting and including ALL sectors of the profession. All people in all sectors should now be prepared to look to the future, be prepared to communicate together with full respect to everyone’s feelings and without the long-held derision, and be prepared to be represented on the proposed THINK TANK in a fair and equal measure.

The matter of who could or should be part of the think tank is;
a) an individual‘s choice.
b) that individual must be prepared to step up (and be seen) and to step out (of the old hatreds). The good news is that there are already people who have ‘raised their hands’ wishing to be included. Thank you.
c) that individual must be able to bring integrity, experience, knowledge, and skills to the think tank. Respect of those individuals by the profession is paramount.
d) All employers include and encourage all employees to actively participate in this discussion…after all, they are the future of the profession.
e) All executive committees from all existing associations urgently and actively (and as a matter of executive duty, responsibility and propriety) inform all members of this discussion such that the executive represents the informed collective will of the entire membership of that association.
f) Each sector consider each specialty within that sector. For example – Dental Artists and Engineers to include (as possible representatives) specialists in art, CAD CAM, digital platforms, business acumen and/or others. This would be done on equal terms for all sectors.

The matter of detail (such as where and how the think tank will meet) can be discussed once we have people to discuss it with.

2 – Goal /objective: All sectors of the profession be fairly and equally represented together as one cooperative and collaborative professional entity to governments (parliaments), media and the public. The heavily fractured, fragmented and incohesive manner in which we have presented the profession to the public, media and parliaments in the past has proven to have been a massive failure – and the entire profession is suffering the consequences of this failure by witnessing the public deserting the profession in huge and ever-growing numbers. Future respect and prosperity of the profession undeniably and irrefutably lies with a cohesive and cooperative umbrella association called DENTISTRY AUSTRALIA (or, for example, DENTISTRY AMERCIA, DENTISTRY SOUTH AFRICA etc) that will, in time, speak on behalf of and represent the entire encompassing profession equally and equitably. This too will be measurable by full participation of all dental professionals employed in all sectors.

FACT – We, as the encompassing dental profession, have a legal right to establish and coordinate our own professional representation to the non-dental world. We do NOT need ‘executive government’ approval (those two words said to me by the High Court of Australia), we do NOT need parliamentary (or other political) approval, and we do NOT need media approval to establish and coordinate ourselves into a single representative entity. In Australia there are upwards of forty five thousand (45,000) people working in the encompassing dental profession, yet only thirteen thousand (13,000) of them, all coming from one sector only, have as a group or association ready access to government and media. This is clearly unjust and undemocratic, and given we all live in ‘democratic’ countries where we can decide our own course, then we are entitled to establish our own fair and equitable representation to decide that course.

3 – Goal/objective: The profession appropriately utilises all the skills and talents of all those within it in the best interests of the public and the profession. For example, we finally come into the 21st century reality and follow other Commonwealth countries (such as Canada and the UK) by introducing independent Oral Care Clinics. These will be owned and operated by therapists and hygienists, and, where applicable, will supported by prosthetists (known as ‘denturists’ outside Australia). They will, firstly and as an introduction, reduce and eliminate the seemingly endless and ever-growing public health waiting lists – and, once that is successfully completed, bring high quality oral health care to the very large number of general public who currently do not seek any regular oral health care. The result here too will be a measureable ‘viable, sustainable and attainable’ (courtesy J. Allbeury) business growth, employment, and profitability of the profession.

PLAN – DENTISTRY AUSTRALIA (and others), once established and operating, bring a collaborative and encompassing plan to parliaments (and media) for independent Oral Care Clinics in the best interests of the public and the profession.

FACT – It is clear that dental artists and engineers world-wide now have no choice but accept the reality that ‘times have changed’, that globalisation and off shore outsourcing are here to stay, and therefore they must operate their businesses within that environment if they are to survive, let alone thrive.
Therefore it is the absolute height of hypocrisy that some (but certainly not all) dentists will not acknowledge nor accept that same fact when it applies to themselves. This is not ‘dentist-bashing’, it is a plain fact of reality. Therapists, hygienists and denturists are now more than able and competent to bring high quality preventative health care, and as well as high quality basic restorative health care, direct to the public. That is precisely what they have been well trained and well educated for. The practice of dentistry has evolved such that dentists can now do many modern procedures unavailable to them in the past, and therefore others can now do what only dentists used to do. Precedents of such modernising have in the past been achieved by other professions – medicine and law amongst them – and the dental profession must now follow suit.

Also, since dentists enjoy the many privileges of the term ‘doctor’ then they must accept and adhere to the responsibilities that come attached to those privileges. And that is, first and foremost, the duty of care. If we truly are a ‘profession’ and wish to be perceived that way by the public, then the entire profession collectively must do all in its power to deliver the best dental health care possible to as many people as possible as efficiently as possible. The years-long waiting lists and the huge number of people globally who miss out entirely on dental care conclusively proves the profession has failed in this mission. ORAL CARE CLINICS will certainly go a long way in helping to achieve the goal of better public perception, acceptance, and participation with the profession.

4 –Goal/objective – Education. A long term goal must be improved dental education, and that education is best achieved collaboratively.

PLAN – Quality dentistry can and is only ever achieved and delivered in a team environment. Therefore, education must also be conducted in a team environment so future dental professionals can learn and master all the best individual and cooperative skills for the benefit of the patient, that particular business, and the profession in general. The fractured and fragmented education of the past has lead to the fractured and fragmented profession in the present. And if we fail to redress this, then it wilb be the future too. There are now precedents of collaborative education in a small number of places and this is the future of dental ‘professionalism’ around the world. Given that the word ‘adapt’ is now so often used, then educators and the education system education must adapt too.

PLAN – In addition, I propose that the word ‘technician’ be deleted from our vocabulary to be replaced with the far more contemporary ‘Dental Artists’ and ‘Dental Engineers’ to accurately reflect the work they do and the skills they have attained. Many global companies ‘re-brand’ and revitalise their image in the public arena, and it is time that dentistry does it too. Failure to do that has had consequences that have become clearly evident and are being felt by all.

On a personal level, I have been ‘testing’ these terms on the general public for more than five months – and my overwhelming experience is that when I use the word ‘technician’ to a (non-dental) person then that person is utterly disinterested. However, I now exclusively use the terms ‘Dental Artist’ and/or ‘Dental Engineer’ and the reaction (by that non-dental person) is one of curiosity and strong interest. This represents a fantastic reversal of perception, and knowing that, we can and must build on it and bring it into the general public awareness.

ARTISTS & ENGINEERS’ REGISTRATION – the question of Artists & Engineers deregistration (in Australia) remains a hot one and there have been a variety of views expressed. However I raise these two interesting points for discussion.
In Australia, to serve or sell alcohol you must by state law have completed an RSA (Responsible Service of Alcohol) certificate and a copy of that certificate must be held on the premises by your employer. In addition, you must by state law have applied for (within 90 days of receiving your RSA certificate) and received a Competency Card from the state government and that card must, by state law, be carried on your person at all times while at work. That industry also has inspectors to monitor and enforce the law and should there be a breach of law then that person, the licensee, and/or the owner of the establishment may face heavy fines. In other words, alcohol industry workers are in fact trained, accredited and registered. And all of that is merely for somebody to sell or serve a simple and basically meaningless beer. The same accreditation applies to taxi drivers too. It is not unrealistic to say that both of these occupations can hardly be described as ‘professional’ when compared to dentistry and its major heath implications.

Yet no such controls, laws or scrutiny exist for dental artists and engineers who make ‘custom made medical (actually ‘dental’) devices’ that can and do have such an enormous effect on the health and welfare of the public. Given this hypocrisy and its intense belittling of the dental profession, then, should individual registration not return, perhaps the concept of dental labs entering the ‘framework of medical manufacture’ (courtesy Joseph Allbeury) be considered such that there can be fair and proper governance over dental labs – and they will be of guaranteed minimum quality and may actually end up being of value instead of being worthless as most of them are now.

ADVERTISING – Advertising has also been widely raised in recent discussions – but there are issues such as who is advertising, what is it they are advertising, who does that advertising represent, and what positive and continuing results does that advertising aim to achieve? Advertising can and should be done……but only when we as an encompassing profession are ready to present to the public something new that the public can trust, accept, and easily identify with.

MEDIA – As mentioned above, the mainstream media has all but ignored us not matter what has been tried. But what about other media that continue to actively support us and will listen to us and give us fair air time? Is it wise to not seek any media and ‘throw out the baby with the bathwater’ even when opportunities in the supportive media continue to exist?

PLAN- Is it realistic of the profession to continue to expect any improved attention from mass media? True professionalism demands humility, and since there still are supportive media offering us air time, then we should gratefully accept that offer when appropriate. Start with solid and supportive foundations and build up.
Also, what about a collaborative ‘dental’ effort in the social media, should we ignore that ever-growing media avenue too?

‘COUNTRY OF ORIGIN’ LABELLING – In Australia it is law to label country of origin of all products sold to the public – but not, seemingly, for ‘custom made dental devices’. There is no doubt that some companies (dental and others) have abused and deceived the public with misleading labelling, and therefore Joseph Allbeury makes a valid point that this is not the ‘panacea’.

Misleading labelling has allowed some (but certainly not all) people in the profession to abuse this loophole for their own benefit, and now with the internet ‘information superhighway’ the confusion and mistrust about ‘where it’s made’ is quickly becoming become widespread throughout society. The spread of this confusion has added to the public perception that ‘dentists are a rip off’, and we know and are feeling the consequences. I have had plenty of interviews (if you wish, see www.openwidebook>Articles & media) and most if not all radio hosts have, unfortunately, introduced my interview with that very negative concept with which most of their audience agree.
PLAN – The country of origin (manufacture) of dental prosthesis must be now accepted as no longer the issue – high quality prosthesis can be sourced from many countries. The issue is that the vast majority of patients do not know where their prosthesis was made, or if it was made to professionally acceptable standards. And they are entitled to know. The issue is not who makes it where, but how well it is made and how well it is installed, and what future value that represents for the money they pay now.

Therefore, the profession (in Australia and elsewhere) must focus on helping the public better understand the advantages and benefits of delivery of home-based personalised services (such as photography, provisionalisation, meeting the artist and/or the entire team, and more) such that the patient/consumer properly and fully understands and is fully informed as to why they are paying more for some prosthesis at home when they think they can get that same prosthesis ‘cheaper’ overseas.

CONCLUSION:
I have laid out very solid and wide ranging foundations and explanations for a ‘plan’ that can and should now be discussed by the proposed THINK TANK. The undeniable fact is that while we continue to ponder but do nothing, the perception ‘gap’ between the profession and the public will increase and the public will continue to desert us in increasing numbers – with everybody in all sectors of the profession being increasingly affected.

The longer that this ‘gap’ continues unaddressed, the more it will be exploited by off shore parties who benefit from our inaction and inertia. Without doubt those off shore parties are astute and it is clear they have successfully driven a wedge between us and our patients. That wedge will only grow deeper and more painful if we, as an encompassing profession, continue to do what we have done in the past. If we do not address the required changes now, then later it will too late and we will have lost our patients forever. The lure of perceived ‘cheap’ dentistry, added to an overseas holiday thrown in for good measure, will be too great for us to overcome.

This email is addressed to many individual dental artists & engineers, hygienists, therapists, dentists, supply personnel, prosthetists, and dental assistants (written in no specific order). It also includes a student who represents the future.

This list also includes all spheres and skills of the profession including industry leaders form a variety of sectors and one of the most esteemed and respected dental professors (of Preventative dentistry) in the world. It is an honour and privilege for us all to have Professor Emeritus B.A. Matis of Indiana, USA who says ‘I am in, as I like your direction’. I recommend you visit www.bamatis.com > Curriculum Vitae to see for yourself why we are so fortunate.

This email also includes numerous respective associations representing many tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of dental professionals around the world.

It is sent to Australia, New Zealand, United States of America, Canada, United Kingdom, The Netherlands, South Africa, Germany and Sweden.

Finally, in an effort to show what quality and value we as the encompassing dental profession have failed to offer the public, I submit the following.

I quote from my book OPEN WIDE – What your dentist won’t tell you:

“Making teeth from dental porcelain is the most complex science-based functional art in the world today because:
• the crown must display all the amazing optical properties of a natural tooth while basically consisting of scientifically researched and manufactured materials;
• it must be used for everyday living while withstanding considerable bite forces for years or potentially decades, without breaking; and, finally,
• only artists can mimic nature beautifully while creating and sculpting each individual tooth differently.”

Also, quality dental crowns can:

• mimic nature so well they may be difficult to detect even under close scrutiny by trained observers;
• have a practical, real-life function and are used all day, every day, with no rest or relief;
• are constantly subjected to substantial bite forces without breaking – strong enough to crush everything you should bite into, and leave dents in nearly everything else;
• may have a working life ranging into decades;
• remain the same in appearance throughout their working life;
• require no ongoing fees or charges (fuel, taxes, registration etc) to keep them in use;
• stay in place, requiring no removal for cleaning;
• have no moving parts; and
• play a vital and critical role in the psychological contentment (happiness and confidence) of the user.”

This undoubtedly makes these restorations made only by our profession to be the absolute best value product of any product of any nature anywhere in the world. Therefore, and I repeat, we have failed to bring this incredible and valuable insight of dentistry into the general public awareness. Now we can rectify that error.

Accordingly, it’s my pleasure to offer to the global profession free use of the above quotations in conjunction with other strategies that may be involved with the aforementioned public reach plans and objectives.
Two conditions attached. Those being;

They are not to be altered in any way without my written permission.
That the appropriate recognition (‘Courtesy Tom Parker – Open Wide’) always be visibly attached.

Given that these two quotes are already published, they therefore are my intellectual property. I feel that these two conditions are fair to myself and to all parties who choose to utilise them.

I present these ideas as a foundation plan for all dental professionals to consider and discuss. If you wish to participate, then communicate – and don’t be left behind. Consult with your association’s executives, or join one if you haven’t yet. Ensure your collective voice is heard to help determine the path you follow – and doing that is in your, your association’s, the profession’s and the public best interest.

We have, at our finger tips, desire, people and money (a little more discussion may be needed). We also have all manner of skills and expertise. And we have a respected ‘vehicle’ through which the profession can now widely communicate. I doubt many powerful institutions, governments or global mega-corporates ever started with that much.

It is my fervent wish that everybody participates.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Georges Sara wrote:

“Dear Everyone,

Please take off your blinkers, and start to see this great change with more clarity,

The federal government has been encouraging and building open free trade with our Asian partners. They’re not going to assist to stop this (labor or liberal) and we are certainly not big enough as a trade/ profession to build a fighting fund to take the Australian government on.

As long as I have been in this trade, I have not heard of a patient actually dying from a Chinese crown. I have visited a large number of these labs and they are using the same materials as we do. Also I now a number of people in this chain of emails who also have visited labs in China and can confirm my opinions because they are importing these crowns themselves and selling them to dentist directly.

As Joseph Allbeury said, build a master plane, you should know the result before you put it into action and build a seriously large fighting fund. You will need it.

I’m prepared to donate $100,000 for the cause, Look forward to seeing the Master plan first.

Kind regards,”