Quick one-question quiz and lesson

Okay – here is your quick quiz for the day:

Which car brand is the safest?

If you’re like most people, you said Volvo.

And while Volvo certainly makes very safe cars, according to the latest data by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety they are not even close to the safest. Of the thirteen categories ranked by the IIHS, only one Volvo, the S60, made it into the top five in any of the categories – and in that one it was number five!

One of the reasons Volvos are considered to be very safe is their dedication to safety research and innovation.

Way back in 1959 they were the first car brand to offer the three-point seat belt, the “shoulder harness” style strap which we all take for granted today.  This innovation is considered one of the greatest safety inventions of the last century and is estimated to have saved over a million lives!


A 1963 Volvo PV544, similar to the one owned
by our grandfather, Dr. Paul Schenker
So just what did Volvo do after all of their research, investment and inventiveness? Surely the patent on the three-point seat belt would put their cars in a league of their own, or possibly bring in billions in licensing rights from other manufacturers.

But our Swedish friends at Volvo were so dedicated to safety they decided to give away the license to any car manufacturer who wanted to use it – for free!

What did that do to diminish their reputation as the safest car? Not a thing! Over half a century later Volvo is still considered by most to be the leader in automobile safety.

Interesting story, but what does that have to do with running a dental practice?

Many times we tend to be guarded about information, fearing if the other dentists in the community find out about our latest marketing strategy or the great new seminar we discovered, it will diminish our success. After all, why share secrets with the competition?

In fact, the opposite is true. Sharing ideas with your peers, or “masterminding,” is one of the most powerful success concepts in the world.

We encourage you to contact some colleagues and form a “Dental Mastermind Group.” You can even give it a clever name like the one we started many years ago – “The Maryland Bridge Club!” (The only problem was when we showed up for our meetings the restaurant would invariably have tables of four with playing cards set up….)

But it doesn’t matter what you call it – the main thing is that you do it. Come on – someone has to take the initiative – it may as well be you!!

The meetings don’t need to be formal. Just have some kind of system like everyone brings one idea to share or one problem to discuss. Once the conversation starts to flow, you will be amazed what you learn. And then – everyone benefits!!

The tree man

Just last week one of us called a tree service for a free consultation to take a look at a tree on our property that was of concern. It was leaning over and many of the branches in the higher areas appeared to be dying.

When the tree service arrived, the guy took one look at the tree in question and said that it needed to come down. He quoted a fee of $645 and said his crew could get to it either Wednesday morning or Thursday afternoon. He asked which day would be better.

The first thought that came to my mind was why don’t we just keep an eye on it? It didn’t look terrible to me. Maybe we could check it in a year and see how it was doing.

So I asked him if we could watch it.

The tree man looked at me very confidently and responded, “Watch it? Watch it do what? This tree is not going to get better on its own and besides that, it is a danger to you, your house, your cars, and anyone else that may be on your property. This needs to be taken care of now.”

And then he said something that totally hit home.

He asked me if I had a tooth with decay in it, would I just “watch it?”

The crew was out on Wednesday and they took care of the tree.

Are you still “watching” things in your practice? Next time you say “let’s keep an eye on it,” please remember the tree man!

“Hey – I heard flossing doesn’t do anything!”

You are probably aware that last week the latest dietary guidelines issued by the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services quietly and without notice dropped any mention of flossing . At the same time, The Associated Press reported that officials had never researched the effectiveness of regular flossing, as required, before cajoling Americans to do it.

Chances are your patients don’t read anything printed by the Department of Agriculture, but they certainly watch The Today Show and all of the other “light news” outlets that seem to delight in reporting the story. After all – everyone likes to think that their hocking hygienist was wrong all along.

This is just what we need – one more reason to get people not to floss!

A close look shows they are not saying flossing is not effective; just that there have never been any really good studies on the subject. But although this is anecdotal – as dental professionals we see first-hand the benefits of flossing every single day!

So how will you answer the inevitable question:

“Hey Doc! I heard that flossing doesn’t do anything! Do I even need to do it?”

Try something like this:

“Well Melvin, every day in this office we see that flossing does a great job in helping to prevent gum disease, and gum disease is the number one cause of tooth loss in adults. There is no question that flossing removes plaque and debris lodged between your teeth, and that is certainly good for your overall health.

It’s kind of like showering every day. There may not be any great studies showing that it’s good for you, but it should be part of your hygiene routine – and flossing should too! All of us do it, and we still highly recommend that you do too!”

Or you could just say:

“No problem – don’t floss. May we set up your denture appointment?”