I was recently drawn to an article from a gentleman whom I deeply respect, in which he utilized the analogy of an archer training to be more proficient or professional, if you will, at archery.
Intrigued by the comparison, I found the analogy to relate very fittingly to the dental profession. In archery or any other similar field where marksmanship can be achieved, a stationary target is set up with which the archer tests his or her skill by attempting to hit the middle of the target commonly known as the “bullseye.” Generally speaking, hours and hours of practice are required to become extremely proficient at this skill. In addition to much practice, knowledge of the equipment and understanding conditions, materials and even the laws of physics and trajectory play a role. It would be ludicrous to believe that an individual had become proficient at archery if they had simply randomly shot an arrow and then moved the target to the immediate proximity of where the arrow had landed only to profess to have hit the target or bullseye.
Were this the case, we could all undisputedly claim to be expert archers without the hours of practice, knowledge of equipment, materials, physical laws or quite frankly, before even picking up a bow and arrow.
How does this relate to dentistry? In the laboratory, each time a crown is designed and milled or fashioned by hand, the target (standard) has already been set. We can’t move the target or change the standard and expect to be considered proficient or expert in our profession. Each technique we use to obtain excellent margins, shade, occlusion, contacts or contour must be precisely focused on by the technician using the best arrow (latest material, technique, etc. available in the trade) that will enable us to hit a “bullseye.” If we take our focus off of any of these or become so fixed on one that we lose sight of the other, we will almost surely miss the mark.
In the dental practice similarly, the target of “complete oral health” is the ideal of an accomplished dentist for each of his or her patients. It can be a difficult target to hit, let alone score a bullseye! The frustration for most dentists, however, is many patients remove the target from the range (turn down or postpone treatment) making the bullseye unattainable.
Nevertheless, for those patients who stay in the game, the expert dentist can successfully hit the mark.
The more we learn about what we do, what equipment works best in our hands, and what materials produce the best results, the closer we get to the bullseye. We will undoubtedly become proficient and achieve excellence. We will also gain a greater appreciation for the profession and a realization there is always room for improvement as we strive for that excellence. It has been said that when we can comfortably and effectively teach others a technique or a skill that we have acquired, then it is apparent that we “own” it.
Over the past 15-20 years, technology has advanced at a staggering rate. Many seasoned dentists who have made the transition from “analog” to “digital,” perhaps think the target has been inexplicably moved and may not even be in the same “range” at which they started their long quest to achieve expert status. In reality, the original standard (target) of “complete oral health” is still right where it has always been. The difference now is that you have the opportunity to fill your quiver with a variety of new arrows that will allow you to more easily hit the target every time and even more likely, hit the bullseye.
Our laboratory has invested by providing our doctors with all of these valuable new arrows. At the end of last month’s newsletter was included several photos of our new expansion at Corr Dental Designs, including a brand new facility housing our Milling Department. We now have digital capabilities that will hit the target very time. Although e.Max (Ivoclar Vivadent) is still the versatile, aesthetic material of choice for many, zirconia materials have captured a large portion of the dental laboratory market and are a viable alternative to PFM’s, gold crowns and even e.Max where additional strength may be desired. The best news with zirconia is that the aesthetic window has been opened with a diversity of shade alternatives resulting in aesthetics that were unattainable a year or two ago. Our milling department has also been trained in “all on four technologies,” enabling our laboratory to produce implant-supported hybrid dentures. As some of our doctors have already discovered, we can also receive your model-less intraoral dental scans and mill your restorations from the files you send. This is a real time saver and provides a quicker turn around for your patients. Our diagnostic wax-ups are extraordinary and can serve multiple purposes in your practice, from an educational tool to a preoperative mock-up in the mouth, or a literal “test drive” of the final product for the patient to work out any changes prior to final cementation. The PAC is also extremely proud of our CE courses and the team of instructors who work with us. Through these educational opportunities, our laboratory also promotes the social aspect of dentistry by providing forums for like-minded professionals to come together and share experiences and challenges from the everyday practice. Our desire is for you to embrace these opportunities and fill your quiver with the arrows that will assuredly assist you to hit the bullseye every time! We look forward to seeing you at an upcoming program including our annual trip to Cabo San Lucas.
Please feel free to stop by the laboratory when you are in town so we can share with you what’s new at Corr Dental Designs and with the PAC. Send us your digital files and give me a call to go over a case, Gary Vaughn, CDT, CTO (916) 786-6740, or via email gvaughn@thePAC.org