Do we dentists truly appreciate what we have in the US?
I am writing this to you from Shanghai, China, where I am presenting about oral health trends in the United States. It's interesting comparing American dentistry to the rest of the world. Within the US, we dental professionals lament how the public doesn't value our services. We struggle to help patients overcome the perceived barriers to care. But when you look at the rest of the world, American patients are actually in good shape.
Sure, there is still much untreated disease and too many patients seem to value cell phones over clean teeth. But overall the American oral health education is, in my opinion, excellent when compared with other countries. Patients understand the importance of regular check ups, even if they don't adhere to that schedule. Patients are generally aware they are supposed to brush at least twice a day and floss once a day, even if they don't muster up the energy to do so.
So I think we should take a moment to appreciate that our patients are actually very well-educated when it comes to oral health. Sure, there is a lot more work to be done to motivate them, tear down perceived barriers to access care, and to clear up misconceptions they learn from bad resources (I'm looking at you, Dr. Oz). But overall, American dental professionals get to start from a great place.