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  • Writer's pictureKarl Walker-Finch

What do you call a group of dentists?

Collaborating with other dentists is a key aspect of my work and I’m finding the more experience I have, the more input I’m seeking from my peers. The more I’m learning, the more I’m discovering that there’s so much more to learn and do.

Simple dentistry, the stuff that we do to one tooth at a time often doesn’t require such collaboration but even for a single tooth there can be many different possible treatment options.

When we start moving towards the treatment of a full arch, all the options for each individual tooth need to be considered, in combination with how they’re all going to work together in the short and long term. Almost always this requires the assistance of a lab technician for sure, but having at least one other dentist to talk the best options through with helps give me clarity on the treatment process, even if they agree entirely with the plan.

When you bring together a group of dentists with different training and different backgrounds you get different opinions and collectively you can come up with and assess far more ideas than any individual. We all have blind spots in our knowledge and learning to accept this is the first step in minimising their impact.

Working closely with others who have different opinions to you is another. Matthew Syed, in Rebel Ideas, highlighted the collective blindness that occurs when people with very similar backgrounds come together.

There are many dentists I’ve reached out to to discuss different treatment options over the years Taking in a variety of opinions has been integral to my development. Being open to ideas and opinions that don’t fit neatly into your own preconceptions greatly widens your perspective. It can be all to easy to surround ourselves with people who think and act like ourselves but this puts us in a vulnerable position of thinking that the way we see the world (or teeth) is the way everyone sees it.

One of the ways we’ve improved our collaborative power was to introduce dentist planning meetings into the diary and it’s one of the best decisions we made at Lindley. If you don’t set aside the time for these things, they don’t happen.

These sessions give us the opportunity to discuss patients treatment as a team, with our different levels of experience and different backgrounds. The blend of different experiences provides unique perspectives on a treatment plan which in turn leads to a far more comprehensive plan for the patient and one which is more likely to provide the best possible outcome for them.

“No man is an island entire of itself; every man

is a piece of the continent, a part of the main”

John Donne

PS: The best name for a group of dentists I've come across so far is from Gyles Brandreth who calls us a wince.

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