My Warrior Princess Lia

Today is June 19th, 2015.  Writing this blog entry may span several days.  I’m not sure when I’ll publish it.

I’ve been offline for a while.  This is why.

Lia 11-0001

One of my favorite baby pictures.

Last Monday, June 15th, my daughter had her annual “school physical.”  Our pediatrician noticed a swollen lymph node on her right leg.  She sent her immediately for a blood test.  White cells were down.  Platelets were down.  She was anemic.  I got the call from my wife around noon while I was at the office.  I cancelled the rest of the day and went home.  I called my sister, a pediatrician.  I also gave our pediatrician permission to speak with my sister.  My sister expressed the potential for considerable concern.  And, I knew why.

Lia felt fine.  No fever.  No lethargy.  No loss of appetite.  An appointment with a pediatric oncologist was made for the next day.  Just that referral would make any parent very nervous.  Plus, as a dentist, I know a little “too much.”  He took some blood and looked at it microscopically.   It wasn’t good.    A bone marrow biopsy was needed and ordered at the hospital immediately.  We were told that the results would come in 24 – 48 hours.  We thought they’d do the test, and we’d go home to wait for the results.  Nope.  Lia was admitted to the children’s hospital on the oncology floor that same day.  Shit.  That wasn’t a good sign.

This was how Lia spent her 11th birthday.  Imagine being an 11 year old birthday girl who is feeling fine being suddenly thrown into a hospital and being poked and prodded.  My hope was that it was some sort of infection.  But, I knew what was more likely coming.

This is our new life.

The bone marrow biopsy results came back:  Continue reading

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Posted in Editorial, What Happened Today | 48 Comments

Keeping Up With the Greenbergs

It’s been a while since I’ve written, as I have been busy and rather uninspired.  But, two days ago, I was interviewed on Howard Farran’s podcast.  It was me… one-on-one with Dr. Howard Farran, the founder of DentalTown.  And, let me tell you…  It takes some real energy to keep up with him! :)

We discussed number of topics, and I’ll touch on that, along with a link, when the podcast is published.  Stay tuned!  But, we discussed one thing in particular that has also come up in some Facebook and Dentaltown threads.  We talked a bit about technology in dentistry.  I think we’ll all agree that recent advances in dental technology have been impressive and a boon to dentistry.

Watch out for the rocks!

SirensBut, I also believe that the siren call of dental technology can be a problem for dentists.  As dentists, most of us are “gadget geeks.”  We love gadgets, gizmos, and toys.  Dentistry is the perfect profession for technology lovers.  While I fall squarely in that category, age and experience has also infused me with a healthy dose of skepticism.  I’ve participated in online dental social media going back to 1992-ish on Compuserve.  It was there I learned an aphorism that has proven to be very useful throughout my career.  My long-time online friend, Dr. Sam Feinstein said, “It’s a solution to a problem I don’t have.”  That’s practice management gold.

Below the standard of care?

Dentistry is FULL of such solutions.  Mind you Continue reading

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Posted in Editorial, Practice Management, Technology | Tagged , , | 24 Comments

Mommas, don’t let your babies grow up to pet strange puppies.

Have you REALLY taught your children to not talk to strangers?

child-abduction-experimentThere is a video making the rounds on Facebook intended to illustrate how many children, despite being taught not to talk to strangers, will take the hands of strangers and walk away with them without hesitation.

The lead in for the video cautions, “Parents keep your eyes on your children in public places!”   That’s certainly good advice.  And, it sets up the viewer to agree with the premise of the video.

The implied lesson is that we need to talk to our children EVEN MORE about avoiding contact with strangers.  But, do we?

Watch the video.  It’s just 3-1/2 minutes long.  Then I’ll get down to fisking it in a way you probably won’t expect.  Video after the jump… Continue reading

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Well, THAT didn’t work!

how-old-mikeWell crap!  At first, I thought this whole “How-Old.net” fad was stupid.  It’s a website where you can upload a photo of your face (or multiple faces), and it will analyze and pin a predicted age on each face.  It’s all over Facebook.  Everyone is doing it.  It was even on the Today Show this morning.

I thought, “Really?  People have time for this shit?  They CARE about this shit?”

Then the light bulb went on!  I thought, “How can I leverage this into marketing for cosmetic dentistry??”  We often talk about how a youthful smile can have a dramatic impact on a person’s appearance.

I thought I’d do an experiment.  First, I’d run a portrait of myself through the How-Old.net analyzer.  Then, I photoshopped a few teeth as missing.  And, then I photoshopped out ALL of my teeth.  I ran those through the analyzer to see if it would make me look older.  Genius!  Right?  Ummm…. NOPE!  It seems How-Old.net digs the toothless smile and made me younger with no teeth!

I got younger with fewer teeth!

I got younger with fewer teeth!

So, what about tooth color?  Will yellow teeth make me older?  Will whiter teeth make me younger? Continue reading

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Posted in Current Events, Marketing | Tagged , , | 14 Comments

Lethal Force – But, he wasn’t armed!

fergusonIn light of numerous widely publicized cases of police officers using Lethal Force being the subject of highly-charged and emotional debates, I decided to write this article.  A common denominator of these debated cases is when the suspect is not armed.  The media, politicians, activists, and protesters often base their positions entirely on this one factor.  And, I’m going to try to explain why it is an ignorant and fallacious argument.  The criteria of the suspect being armed (or not) as the SINGULAR litmus test is not only incorrect… it’s a DANGEROUS assumption.  It’s dangerous to the officer.  And, standing firm on this ignorance has literally led to cities being burned down and other riotous behavior.  Worse, the flames have been fanned by the equally ignorant and complicit media, politicians, and activists.

I’m not sure why the Law Enforcement community has not made any attempt to educate people about this.  I am not a lawyer, nor am I a law enforcement officer.  But, this topic is something I’ve studied a fair bit.  If any knowledgeable person reading this finds any flaws, please let me know!

When is lethal force justified?

It is a three-pronged test.  Remember this acronym:  “AOJ.”  All three legs of this test must be met SIMULTANEOUSLY in order for Lethal Force to be legally justified.

A is for Ability.

The threat / suspect / bad guy must have Continue reading

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Posted in Current Events, Editorial, Personal Security & Safety | Tagged , , , | 12 Comments

Fifteen Minutes of Shame

sandra-bullockThis week, the news reported that actress Sandra Bullock called the police to report an intruder in her house.  It took FIFTEEN MINUTES for the police to arrive at SANDRA BULLOCK’S home.  She locked herself in her room, which has a SAFE DOOR.  Below is a recording of her 911 call.

Most of us don’t have a vault door for our bedrooms (like Ms. Bullock does).  Many of us have family spread out in multiple bedrooms.  And, if you can’t defend yourself effectively….  15 minutes….  well…  By then, the police will simply be gathering forensic evidence around your lifeless body.  Or maybe the intruder will have mercy on you and let you and your children live.  Either way, the police will not be there in time to protect you.  And, you should know that they have NO OBLIGATION to protect you, even if they do arrive in time.  Read that last sentence again and click the link to learn more about that.

Are you ready?

burglarSandra Bullock’s intruder was a mentally disturbed stalker.  Most of us aren’t celebrities who are more likely to have stalkers.  While the probability of a home intruder is relatively low, Continue reading

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Posted in Personal Security & Safety | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Changing Lives Again

thank-you-scriptI love what I do for a number of reasons.  I like the combination of engineering, biology, physics, and art that goes into restoring teeth and smiles.  I like that we can eliminate a patient’s pain, usually in a single visit.  And, I like that our efforts can literally change lives for the better.

I’m always touched when a patient takes the TIME to go that “extra mile” in showing his or her appreciation for what we do.  They pay us for our services, of course.  And, that should be enough, right?  But, some patients are compelled to go further and thank us in a number of ways.  Sometimes it’s baked goods.  Sometimes it’s a hug.  Sometimes it’s a nice card.  And, sometimes they even take the time to write their heart-felt thoughts.  I got this card and letter this week:

Dr. Mike, Jo-Ann, Sandy, and Marcy,

letterI woke up this morning thinking about how blessed we were to have found your office.  I was thinking about how stressful it was worrying about Mary and all of her dental issues before she became a patient of yours. 

Finding your office was truly a blessing.  If we had stayed at her previous dentist office, I don’t know if I would have survived the continual problems and stress that came along with having a dentist that didn’t want to hear or understand what I wanted for my beautiful daughter. 

Every person in your office has played a crucial role in creating the beautiful, perfect smile that my daughter is so very proud of.  It makes my heart so happy seeing what a difference your entire team has made in our lives. 

Dr. Mike, I especially want to thank you for being so patient with me.  I wanted certain things a certain way, and you never once questioned me.  You went above and beyond to make it happen, and happen it did!  Against all odds, Mary’s Maryland bridge is as solid as ever.  I don’t know that you will ever fully understand what an impact you have had on our lives, nor could I ever thank you enough.

Forever grateful, The Smiths.

This family has gone out of their way to thank us before.  Before I remade her Maryland Bridge, I did some bonding.  I blogged about it previously.  Here is a sequence of photos demonstrating the new Maryland bridge: Continue reading

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Posted in Case Presentation, Practice Management, What Happened Today | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

Putting Out Fires

Some days, I feel like I’m the dental version of a fireman.  On Monday, I saw a new patient who had been referred to me by a colleague in Ohio (who knows me through the Dentaltown message boards).  The patient is a “snow bird” who spends his winters in Florida.  It happens a lot, as it seems there is a rule that most patients up North eventually end up in Florida.  I share many patients with my northern colleagues.

First Fire

The patient, a 75 y.o. male with a history of multiple myeloma, had a chief complaint of a loose bridge.  It was implant-supported with abutments in the position of #9 and #13.  Interestingly, rather than pontics, there were crowns on natural teeth in the positions of #10 and #11.  There is a pontic #12.  So, it was combining natural teeth and implants.  Except, the natural teeth were no longer really part of the equation (as you’ll see below)

The patient was planning to return home to Ohio in a couple of weeks.  Normally, I’d recommend replacing the screws with new screws (and I told him so).  The old screws have been stressed cyclically and are prone to breakage.  But, he wanted a quick fix, and I thought I’d just tighten the existing screws enough to get him home to Ohio.  And, so that’s what I did.  I recommended that he see his dentist ASAP when he gets home.  I also mentioned that the entire bridge may need replacement.

He’s baaaaack

Yesterday, the patient called to tell us the bridge came out completely.  Rut-roh!  I knew the screws did not likely loosen themselves all the way out in a couple of days.  And, I was right.  Both screws broke off in the implants.  Oh, crap.  I saw him this morning, and this is what I found.

Here's what was under the four splinted crowns.

Here’s what was under the bridge.

Continue reading

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Posted in Case Presentation, Practice Management, What Happened Today | Tagged , , , , | 24 Comments

A Loaded Gun Is the Safest Gun.

loaded-0004

Say “whaaaaa?”

The title sounds counterintuitive, I know.  Indulge me for a moment.  Let’s dissect the notion of a loaded gun being the safest gun.  It may not be as crazy as you think.

First, let’s review Colonel Cooper’s Four Rules of Safe Gun Handling (cut and pasted from another post):

  1. All guns are always presumed loaded.  Even if they are not, treat them as if they are.
  2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.  (For those who insist that a particular gun is unloaded, see Rule 1.)
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.  This is the Golden Rule.
  4. Identify your target, and what is behind it.  Never shoot at anything that you have not positively identified.

I thought it was unloaded!

Loaded-Glock-23

A Glock 23 without a magazine. Does that mean it’s unloaded? NOPE!

Every so often in the news, we hear about an inaccurately-labeled “accidental discharge” of a firearm.  There are no “accidental discharges,” only NEGLIGENT discharges (except in the very rare case of a mechanical failure with a firearm).  Many of those who have experienced a negligent discharge have been known to say, “I thought it was unloaded.”  And, THAT is the problem.  These folks treat the gun differently when they THINK it’s unloaded.  And, then…. BANG!

See Rule #1!

But, even if they see Rule #1, some people think they know it’s unloaded, so they relax.  What if they KNEW it WAS loaded?  Would they relax and play loose with the rules?  Would they point it at their friend?  Would they have their finger on the trigger (See Rule #3)?  Probably not.  I hope not.  But, when they THINK they “know” it’s unloaded, the rules seem to matter less.  And, that’s when bad things happen.  BANG!

One time, at the range…

loaded range-0004When I’m at the indoor range, I always take a moment to periodically step back out of my booth to observe the other shooters.  I pretend to be taking a break…. crack my knuckles…  stretch.  Are they being safe?  Are they observing the Four Rules?  A couple of months ago, there were two guys sharing the booth next to me.  It appeared one was a local while the other was a visiting friend.  They were sharing a pistol.  Nothing wrong with that.  It’s fun to share this sport.

The local guy had just finished firing at his target.  When he stopped, he turned around to chat with his friend.  The only problem was Continue reading

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Are You A Dentist or THE Dentist?

Seems like a strange question at best and an ego-driven rhetorical question at worst, right?

Mandelbaum!  Mandelbaum!  Mandelbaum!

“So, you think you’re better than me?”

I couldn’t help working in a Seinfeld reference!

What do I mean by the title of this article?  I was thinking about how most of my new patients referred by my website end up on my website and then in my chair.  I often ask those patients if they remember which search terms they used.  Often, they tell me they were looking for something specific… a specific service or a specific type of dentist.  They weren’t looking for A dentist.  They weren’t looking for ANY dentist.  They were looking for THE dentist (who met some specific criteria).

Who are you?  Who, who?  Who, who?

Yes, there are many prospective patients looking for A dentist who: Continue reading

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Posted in Editorial, Marketing, Practice Management | Tagged , , | 4 Comments