A Little Attitude

by Dr. Elliot Mechanic

Newspapers, magazines, and journals exist throughout the world and readers are able to freely choose which ones to read. I am constantly drawn to and fascinated by the letters to the editor in these publications. One audio magazine that I subscribe to frequently prints letters where the sender instructs the magazine to “cancel my subscription!” This outburst is usually over an article or product review that differs from the readers opinion or an advertisement that the reader feels lacks in taste. Get a life! Why don’t these whiners write their own articles or print their own magazine. I look forward monthly to receiving that specific publication and would be sorry if it didn’t exist. Granted most letters to the editor have valid constructive opinions and add substance but the writers of some of them appear as if they just want to see their name in print for their 30 seconds of fame.

This year Oral Health is celebrating it’s 100th birthday. Our Journal is internationally regarded as the voice of Canadian dentistry. This is really some achievement! While other publications have come and gone Oral Health is still here and getting stronger. Monthly issues are devoted to the different disciplines of dentistry and contain original articles from some of the world’s most respected clinicians including several Can­adian authors. Our publication is continually striving to be better and be the type of publication that all Canadians can be proud of. Yet rarely is a letter to the editor received that is totally positive or just says “good job.”

As esthetic editor I am amazed by the attitude expressed in letters putting down the entire concept of esthetic dentistry. We have all heard opinions stating that dentists who promote esthetic services are only interested in making a quick buck and that these services are unnecessary. One dentist, in their letter went as far as calling dental esthetics “hogwash.” Does this dentist’s patient’s ask for “ugly” teeth? After being in private practice for close to 32 years I still do not find esthetic dentistry easy and can think of much easier ways to make money.

Oral Health’s April 2007 esthetic issue contained an exclusive to Oral Health submission by internationally acclaimed clinician, lecturer and author Galip Gurel. His article and the accompaning cover photo of his patient made Oral Health the envy of many other dental publications. Yet the letters to the editor that followed focused entirely on the magazine cover photo of his patient as if it was pornographic. One reader even called us “daft” for placing the photo on the cover. I wondered if this reader actually read the article?

I do not believe that anyone practicing dentistry today can honestly say that dental esthetics is “hogwash” Esthetic dentistry is everywhere and has changed every aspect of dentistry. The day of a patient accepting whatever we give them are over! Patients today are too educated and demanding. They know what they want and research what is available and from which practitioner to receive treatment. Good enough is no longer good enough!

However, I do not believe that there is or should ever be a specialty based solely upon esthetics. All dentistry should strive to replicate nature. Is nature not the basis of esthetics? There is far more to esthetic dentistry than just fabricating ceramic restorations. What about harmonious gingival levels, accurate implant placement, a physiologic occlusal plane and maxilla to mandible relationship. The list goes on and on. What is obvious is that all dentistry should replicate nature and that all dental specialties should strive for natural looking dental esthetics. This is what our patients want.

Esthetic dentistry has the ability to change lives. For those who don’t believe that dentistry has this type of power, I invite you to look at this issue’s cover photo and hopefully you will become a believer.OH