“Dentistry is work of love.” Kanzo Uchimura (evangelist 1861-1930)
“Life is too short to suffer.” Tony Robbins
Most of Japanese dentists are general practitioners unlike US dentists who are specialists, such as endodontists, periodontists, implantologists, orthodontologists, oral surgeon, etc. I heard a story of one of famous dentists of Japan. When he attended at a dental conference in US, he was asked by a US dentist, “What is your specialty?” and he replied “general practitioner”. The US dentist gave him a disdainful glance and went away. There may be a tendency where a specialist looks down on a general practitioner in other countries. I suppose it is not right or wrong, but just cultural difference.
As a general practitioner, I, like many Japanese dentists, am making effort to get overall skills including ones of root canal treatment, periodontal surgery like guided tissue regeneration, implant therapy including guided bone regeneration, bracing, extracting wisdom teeth, etc. And our final goal is making an ideal occlusion for effective chewing function. A general practitioner is like a decathlete, who may be in lower level in each field than a specialist. But, a general practitioner can make a total planning and execute it by himself, or sometimes with cooperation of specialists, which is rewarding. Brushing up each category is enjoyable, which takes time and money for learning in various seminars.
The case above was a female patient whose chief complaint was difficulty in chewing. She came to my clinic by an introduction of her friend who has been one of my long-term patients. When they had a party, the friend realized her mouth condition looked deteriorated and said she should go to my clinic. She swallows food, not bites. She had given up her teeth problem because she thought it’s too bad for a dentist to cure.
My imagination began to work. I was very excited to face the challenge. She did not accept an implant treatment plan. What I performed here were root canal treatments, minor tooth movement, the crowns covering natural teeth, and the removable dentures which were well accepted by her. She confessed she had depression before the treatment, but it almost disappeared because of this full mouth reconstruction, and made a great smile.
Continuing education is necessary because progress of technology is always happening. There is no final goal in learning.