Peter Raftery BDentSc, MSc, MFDS, MClinDent, MRD, MEndo, links endodontics with Brexit.

If Brexit negotiations don’t go well Mrs May will be out of a job. Which is why she ought to draft in the endodontists. Not for stress related attritional pulp exposure but because we endodontists surely make the best diplomats.

Think about it; who else operates simultaneously keeping two disparate stakeholders – the patient and the referrer – happy? It’s different for other disciplines.  Periodontists get by if they can make the patient (also the customer)  believe that a change in plaque score from 90% to 85% is noteworthy. Orthodontists will stay busy if they can keep track of ‘how awesome the new iPhone is gonna be’ (patient) and when Private school term times are (customer – relative of patient). Endodontist’s occupy a different environment.

I find I am often ‘spinning a couple of plates’. As endodontists we will often be asked by patients (customer) “Why can’t my normal dentist do this?”. We’ll need to explain that getting a gutta-percha in around that sharp mesial curve probably was a specialist job. And later on we’ll often need to explain to the referring dentist (customer) that getting that fractured file out from around that same curve probably was a specialist job.

I buy into the GDC’s Standards – including Duty of Candour – but I don’t think it would do me, the patient or the profession any favours if I dwelled on how the fractured file (that I vibrated out an hour ago) got there. Likewise I don’t think it would help anyone if I scoffed at (and rejected back to the whence they came) the facile referrals I get sent. Who would benefit – the confidence-shattered patient? The fuming GDP? Me; the smug but soon-to-be idle endodontist? The GDP has referred the case  – are they really likely to warm to (or accept) being told ‘…actually you should be able to do this with ease?’.

Seems obvious ? So why are all hearing more frequently from patients that “the last dentist took one look and said this was rubbish”. That fleeting sensation of superiority that comes with criticism of someone else’s work is not worth it and not helpful. Patients are left no better off and feel more suspicious of the profession.

I am all for patients getting treated fairly – including recompense in certain rare circumstances – but I have told the Dental Law Partnership where to go in the past when they’ve sniffed around flattering me to become one of their ‘Expert Witnesses’. I will not willingly participate in the take down of colleagues. Openly slamming each other in front of patients is not on. Please can we better pull together for the good of the patient’s and of the profession?

Perhaps I could better have summed this all up with a quote and who better than Steve Martin – an actor who has gotten under the skin of the dental profession on more than one occasion.

‘Before you criticize a man, walk a mile in his shoes. That way, when you do criticize him, you’ll be a mile away and have his shoes.’