This, my final column for the magazine, marks a good chance to reflect on how dentistry (and I) have changed in the decades just past.
I ALWAYS KNEW this day would come, even if I was never quite sure when. Back in 1995, I clipped out of the Baltimore Sun a column by Tom Peters, the management guru and author of the 1982 book In Search of Excellence. The column’s title: “On Track to a Renewal, Tom Peters Says Goodbye.” It’s been hanging on my office bulletin board ever since.
As I pen my own farewell piece, I think about whom to thank for my wonderful, engaging and rewarding professional career in dentistry—as an academic, clinician, researcher and mentor. I have to start by thanking you: the dental students, dentists, hygienists, chairside assistants and all my colleagues who have fueled my career of discovery and inspiration.
My first published article came in 1979, and to this day I continue to put pen to paper regularly. I use my keyboard skills all the time, of course, but I value and enjoy my analog writing instruments every bit as much. Writing on paper slows my mind to a degree that I can reflect on each word, each sentence—their meaning, their message.
My last Cutting Edge column, then, is not an ending but rather a fond farewell, for now, while I swivel around looking for additional opportuni-ties. I know they’ll be there and I’m ready to embrace them when they ar-rive. I’ve been privileged to work with an extraordinarily gifted creative team at Incisal Edge and Benco Dental over the years. I could list tens of names, but I won’t, because I don’t want to leave anyone out.
I’ve always been open to change. A good thing, as change has been con-stant for the last 40-odd years. (To say nothing of the change wrought by the coronavirus—which could be another dozen columns in itself.) I’ve been for-tunate to work in parallel with amaz-ing dental innovations and inventions concerning adhesion and dental bio-materials. I’ve had mentors—pioneers and giants—who believed in me and gave me the chance to explore my in-terests. They continue to make a dif-ference for me today. Not just for me, in fact, but for dentistry writ large: Miles Markley (the father of mini-mally invasive dentistry), Bob Ibsen, Dan Fischer, Van Thompson, Dianne Rekow, Gordon Christensen, Bernie Weissman, Byoung Suh, Ron Jordan and Bill Dragan, among many others.
You, my audience of students, cli-nicians and colleagues, have always been the driving force. It’s never been about me but rather about what you want to know, what you want to in-corporate regarding how we provide care for our patients. It has all added up to a personally and professionally satisfying time.
And so I bid you farewell . . . for now. I’ll still pop up from time to time to share insights and innovations. Watch this space and others. (“My tank is not empty as I write this,” noted Peters in that 1995 essay, now yellowing on my wall, and the same certainly goes for me.) Our digital age, meanwhile, ensures that you’ll always be able to search online for my presentations, my articles and more. Thank you for being there for me.