By the time 2016 ends, I will have spent 25 years of my life living and breathing root canals. For most people this is a fairly shocking statistic as they quizzically wonder how anyone could have landed up doing such an esoteric task.
I would love to say that I have had a passion for saving teeth ever since I was a child, but that would be a damn lie. In fact I have a healthy disrespect for anyone that takes this job too seriously. I actually enjoy taking the mickey out of what I do for a living. At the sight of a crowd gathering around a serious accident, I will push through asking if anyone injured needs a root canal.
How I landed up doing this is a long story, and maybe another blog I guess, but when I tell my patients how slightly idiotic I feel being impassioned about what I do, they are surprised, as I seem so totally dedicated.
The answer to this conundrum lies in a deeper seated passion of mine and resides in advice attributed to Jonathan Ive, Apple's Chief Design Officer. 'Do one thing, and be the best in the world at it'.
Yes, I might do something that nobody really quite understands, actually appreciates, and which terrifies a great many more, but the important thing for me is to do it extraordinarily well.
I have never really understood people who are satisfied with being less than average at what they do. A station guard who doesn’t know when the next train is coming, a technology sales agent who doesn’t really completely understand the product they are trying to sell you, or for that matter a specialist endodontic nurse who doesn’t really understand what root canal treatment is about! I promise you this is true… the tennis coach at our local tennis club literally cannot play tennis! I mean, what is that all about?
Root canal treatment is one of the most difficult areas of dentistry to work in. We are working in tiny restricted places that nobody really wants you to be fiddling around in. So just my luck, it turned out that I picked something physically, mentally and psychologically challenging to try and be the best in the world at.
That is my motivation, and the reason I have worked hard to increase my diagnostic and treatment planning skills using the latest imaging devices, and continue to try new innovative techniques and treatment methods seeking greater success rates and more comfortable and pain-free methods. I keep trying, and I keep innovating, for the job is never done and there will always be ways to improve and learn from failure.
A pursuit for excellence in all that we do, is the cornerstone for the Academy. It sounds a little corny, but working at being the best in the world is the message I want to pass on to my talented associates, staff and students.