Sunday, August 15, 2010

Forget whitening...let's green our smiles!

I've been trying to be environmentally respectful for a while now, but last January, inspired by a class at Yankee Dental Congress, I joined the Eco Dental Association (EDA) which can be interwebbed at

Since then, I've worked to try to bring my practice onto a level where I can not only feel I'm doing some good for environmental sustainability, but as a business strategy I can stake out a niche as "the green dentist," a label I've perhaps even shied away from since joining the Seacoast Green Alliance (

So I'm finally putting together a brochure which will highlight some of my green initiatives, in the hopes of first advertising to existing and new patients what we're all about when we SAY "green dentistry" and secondly, challenging people to possibly suggest new things we could do which perhaps we've not even thought of!

Here's what I've got so far for the brochure:

Green Initiatives

Dentists often say, "You only have to care for the teeth you want to keep!" By 12 years old, the baby teeth are usually all gone, and we have to work to maintain these valuable little white appendages. Similarly, we only have one planet, so anything we can do to preserve the environment is a step in the right direction. While it's impossible to eliminate all waste, here's some things Dr Swanson and his team do to shrink our "footprint" on the Earth:

Digital X-rays - Eliminates plastic, lead and hazardous developing chemicals of traditional x-rays.

Electronic Patient Records - Reduce paper use, increase efficiency of communication with other providers.

Biodegradable seat covers and cups - Reduce CO2 production and break down in landfills.

Preserve brand toothbrushes - made from recycled Stoneyfield yogurt cups and recyclable as plastic "lumber" for benches, playground equipment, etc

Instruments and equipment - Use of reusables which are safe to sterilize in our autoclaves instead of disposables.

Email and text message appointment reminders; electronic claims, bills, band statements - reduce paper

Use of local dental laboratories - reduce packaging and fuel needs as well as supporting or New Hampshire neighbors.

Nearby bus stop - allows patients to use public transportation

Amalgam separator - prevents mercury from escaping into the environment

Office Recycling - reduction of landfill "trash" by separating out plastics, paper, aluminum and glass


So any suggestions? :)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Severely Misplaced Hate

So today someone (presumably reading some of my posts on Yahoo Answers?) commented on a post from Jan '08. They wrote:

"I was just reading what you said elsewhere on the internet in response to a person who asked why dentists cost so much. I don't buy your response. If I were suddenly made dictator of the US, the very first thing I would do, no exaggeration, is make dentists slaves of the state. They would then be forced to give quality dental care to anyone who needed it, for free...because I know that dentists do not need to charge what they do. They're/you're not missing any meals- but GUESS WHAT? Plenty of other people are so that they can get the care they should be entitled to as human beings in order to live a healthy, pain-free life. I understand perfectly your position- you know that people will pay ANYTHING to alleviate pain in their mouths- and you capitalize on that. Yes, I am bitter. I too owe over 100,000 in student loans- so that I could get degrees that would allow me to teach children...however, I certainly don't feel entitled to blackmail my students' parents by threatening to withhold their educations in lieu of receipt of extortionate amounts of cash. Bottom line: I do not like dentists and I hope the US 'socializes' medicine and you lose your lucrative little lifestyles and have to live like the rest of us. Medical doctors probably don't even live as well as you. You should be ashamed."

Well. At least you're not bitter....oh wait, you admitted you were.

I'm not sure where to begin. First of all, you know who should be ashamed? Someone commenting on this under "Anonymous." Yes, way to engage in a meaningful dialogue - go online and sling arrows around from behind a screen. If they read my answer somewhere else, it means they have a Yahoo account and they very well could have contacted me through there and talked about this a little more reasonably, as opposed to flinging vitriol in a blog (commenting, I might add on a post that simply welcomes my infant nephew into the world and has nothing to DO with dentistry!)

Mr/s. Anonymous: If you happen to check in here, feel free to do so and I'm happy to look at your concerns. Seriously. I believe you have some valid points but I believe you're misinformed on a few points.

Let's review. If you were made dictator of the US... stop there. You're a teacher? really? obviously not of Civics, Government or History, or you'd know we live in a democracy. But it's a rhetorical device. You want to make your point, fine. You'd like to enslave dentists and have them be "forced to give quality dental care to anyone who needed it, for free." Again, find a civics teacher, but this is called socialism. I sure as heck voted for Barack Obama, and I voted for (Dr.) Howard Dean and I sit here watching right wingers call these guys socialists, but I'm pretty sure there aren't too many Americans who REALLY want to live in a pure commune. Most of us believe that those who work harder (and to some degree those that are more talented or smarter) deserve more rewards. Are the current rewards proportional to how hard everyone works? Absolutely not, but I hardly think dentists (while sometimes "bad") are the worst offenders... we don't get, say, $10 million bonuses for getting lucky while taking risks w/ other people's investments. We don't make $20 million a year for being the star of CSI or for shoving a ball through a hoop. The bottom line here, however, is that you CAN'T "enslave" anyone and then expect "quality care." I think they kinda tried it in USSR and you had a lot of unmotivated doctors. You can build a pyramid or harvest cotton but you can't get people to perform at high levels involving critical thinking, artistry and compassion. (yeah, a lot of us have compassion, say what you will.)

"I know that dentists do not need to charge what they do."
Really? how many dentists do you know? Have you BEEN a dentist? Gone to dental school? Managed a dental office? Do some docs overcharge, upsell and price gouge? Yes. And the same is true of mechanics, athletes, ballerinas, contractors, engineers, architects, florists, whatever. Do you honestly expect everyone to charge no more than they need to to "get by?" Even if this were a realistic expectation, where's the motivation to be GOOD at anything? You'd have a society of mediocrity, on every level. And how on earth do you decide what constitutes a "reasonable level" of income? Who gets subjected to these dictates you'd propose? Everyone who makes more money than you?

"They're/you're not missing any meals- but GUESS WHAT? Plenty of other people are so that they can get the care they should be entitled to as human beings in order to live a healthy, pain-free life."
Ah, so you can make only enough to put food on your table and no more as long as ANYone goes to bed hungry. Interesting. The thing is, we can SOLVE hunger in this country, if not the world, by applying technology, ingenuity and compassion. Yeah, we need to trim some profits here and there, but we don't have to clip everyone back to subsistence levels. Your level of arrogance is astounding... seriously, you're telling ME that people are hungry, suffering and in pain?

I saw those people and cared for them every day when I was in dental school. I see them on a pretty regular basis come into my practice, where I'll knock off the charges for exams and xrays so that they pay only the cost of an emergency extraction. (Oh, that should be free too? I'm sorry; i'll just tell the SEVEN people for whom my small business provides good, secure jobs that I can't pay them anymore and we'll see how many people I can help all by myself...) I saw those hurting, hopeless people every DAY when I worked for three years full time at a non-profit clinic, at which I still spend two days a month because I believe in helping those in that situation. I see these people when I spend time (and money out of my own pocket) working with service projects through my church. I see the people only somewhat better off than the homeless or jobless who are struggling to maintain their own small businesses through my volunteer service on the board of my towns Business Association.

If you, Mr/s Anonyomous had bothered READING any of my blog posts you maybe would know these things about me, but hey, it's a hell of a lot easier to just hate all dentists, isn't it? I KNOW you didn't bother reading, because in your next comment from the 1/08 post you mention "your baby." It's not my baby, it's my brother's baby, but again, why bother reading when you have vindictive angry verbal epithets to spew?

"I understand perfectly your position- you know that people will pay ANYTHING to alleviate pain in their mouths- and you capitalize on that."
I think we've established already that you know NOTHING about me. That said, I'm interested that you view the whole dental profession as simply waiting around to provide extortive care to those in pain. In case you haven't noticed, we've spent the last 100 years or so hollering and waving our arms for PREVENTION - we are actively engaged in TRYING TO RUN OURSELVES OUT OF BUSINESS, trying to get soda machines out of schools, get fluoride in local drinking water, encouraging an often complacent population to just put some freakin' floss in their mouths now and then!

Of course, if you're only going to the dentist when you're in pain, I would imagine that it WOULD seem that way, which leads me to believe you're so anti-dentite that you ONLY engage in emergency care... Guess what? it's more expensive that way. Oh, i know, you're going to say you don't have insurance and can't afford to come in. Yes, there ARE homeless, jobless people out there who really do need a safety net, but MOST people who make the "i don't have insurance" argument haven't even bothered CHECKING to see how much it would cost to come in for a routine visit. Cleaning, $70; exam, $50-80; x-rays, $50-80. Basically $130-$250, and that's in NEW ENGLAND where things are more expensive than Midwest, South, etc etc. OK, so maybe you go to a dentist that upsells you stuff you don't need. I'm not a fan of the free market economy in all it's forms but by golly, shop around 'til you find someone who'll provide BASIC services. WE ARE OUT HERE.

"I too owe over 100,000 in student loans- so that I could get degrees that would allow me to teach children..."
Well, as soon as Pope Benedict asks my opinion (and as soon as you tell me your name) I'll be sure to put you forward for beatification and sainthood, my friend. Do NOT even try to tell me that any profession is soo much more NOBLE and BENEFICENT than any other. They all have their angels and they all have their demons. For ever evil money-grubbing dentist there's a lazy complacent teacher who can't be fired due to union rules or their tenure who are just marking time 'til their retirement, not caring if kids actually LEARN. For every noble "Stand and Deliver" "Dead Poets Society" "Dangerous Minds" teacher out there, I can tell you there are dentists and doctors in the trenches actually trying to make the world a better place, often at significant financial expense. You aren't BETTER than me cuz you're poorer...if you think you are, go find Nietzche and read his opinions on "slave morality."

Oh, and if you took out that many loans, getting into a profession where the financial remuneration is proportionally less than mine, don't come crying to me. I SWEAR I vote for the people who are trying to change the system whenever possible - teachers should be as comfortable and respected as health care providers or any other profession. Seriously, you typed your bitchy missive to quite possibly the most LIBERAL dentist in the state of New Hampshire. I'm on YOUR side, you daft fool, I'm trying to help and maybe fix things "from the inside." I don't golf, I'm not millionaire and I drive an 8 year old Camry.

"however, I certainly don't feel entitled to blackmail my students' parents by threatening to withhold their educations in lieu of receipt of extortionate amounts of cash."
Oh, well, then clearly you don't work for an institute of higher education, where the cost of getting a bachelor's degree (never mind a doctorate) are outstripping the CPI or rate of inflation at a truly dizzying rate. Pretty much, that's what college IS right now, is blackmail to withhold a real and meaningful education from those who can't afford it. And I won't pretend that doesn't exist on the secondary level where people who live in a crappy school district have to either spend thousands on private schools or let their kids slog through a system with barely competent teachers (the typically least likely to get jobs in better districts) and inadequate supplies. Again, i'm ALL ABOUT changing the system with loan repayments or financial incentives to get hte best and brightest teachers in the schools that NEED them most; you're preaching to the choir, Rev Anon. I won't bother telling YOU that a good education is expensive!

"Bottom line: I do not like dentists..."
Like a good book report, it's always nice to restate your main thesis in conclusion. Thanks. I hadn't picked up on that tidbit.

"US 'socializes' medicine and you lose your lucrative little lifestyles and have to live like the rest of us. Medical doctors probably don't even live as well as you."
Go Populism! Us vs. Them! Down w/ the bourgeoisie! Cripes, I'm a LEFTY and I've never been so inclined to yell, "Go to Cuba, ya pinko!" I never thought I'd see the day. I've made the points above, but you have no idea how I live, you have no idea how much debt I have and you certainly have no fucking clue how much I already give back in time, care, ideas and Yes, money.

"You should be ashamed."

No, shame on you.
Shame on you for posting anonymously.
Shame on you for making wild and inaccurate generalisations about an entire profession.
Shame on you for making foolish and hurtful assumptions about a person you've never met.
Shame on you for not doing a little basic research to LEARN about me before posting your screed.
Shame on you even for your insipid and disingenuous faux-erudite attempts at an intellectual smack down.

As disgusted as I am by SO many in my profession who DO take advantage of the less fortunate, I'm almost more appalled by people like you who ALLOW the them to paint the left wing with gross, mischaracterized brushstrokes, and who use your irrational, shoot from the hip rantings to scare their right-wing followers (usually the POOR, ironically) into supporting their policies.

YOU should be ashamed.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Olympic Post Script

So I've kinda been meaning to post these shots for months and have been distracted by the Election and Facebook...

Anyway, I was intrigued that apparently the fastest man in the world may be aided by NOT being weighed down by big heavy molars....

Note the lack of 3, 14 and who knows what else....

Anyway, I hope Mr Bolt made enough in endorsements and so forth to get some implants or something. Makes you think a bit about the whole differential in standard of living w/ US vs. poorer countries.... more later!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Can You Dig It?

So, here I am, finding my mug in the local news publication yet again... Kind of embarassing, but for a very good cause:

"NEWMARKET — Backhoes and the color bright, construction orange are familiar sights downtown. They are also the part of a new T-shirt to help businesses during this year’s downtown reconstruction.

Local organizations looking for ways to encourage people to shop at downtown businesses during construction were the inspiration for the T-shirts, which were designed by Nathan and Rachel Swanson of Newmarket Dental. Nathan Swanson is on the Board of Directors of the Newmarket Business Association (NBA).

"We were looking for ways to promote the idea that during construction, Newmarket is still open for business. The economy is certainly struggling and given people are detouring (through town) it’s potentially harmful to a lot of the small businesses … the big take-home message is to encourage people to shop in Newmarket," Nathan Swanson said.

Proceeds from the T-shirts go to "We Dig Newmarket," a collaborative effort to help encourage people to do business downtown. The initiative offers Saturday music serenades from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The group has also installed signs along Spring Street pointing people to access points for local businesses, said NBA President Gerry O’Connell."

Read the full article here,
though I have to confess, the caption saying that I "helped design" said t-shirt is a bit generous, given that Rachel did 95% of the work...

Check out her new employer! Click on Vital Work then on Identity to see some cool logos. She's currently enterprising to re-brand a local bowling alley...

Tune in next time for some discussion of Olympic athletes and missing teeth...

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

If only John Lennon were still alive...

This nice young man: Maxwell Rome. He was recently arraigned in our local court for swinging a hammer at a fellow combatant during a fight in a liquor store parking lot, splitting his scalp.

Now seriously... if you actually KNEW someone named MAXWELL, wouldn't you be on the lookout for his HAMMER? C'mon...

the full story is here.

I'll admit Rachel gets full credit for A) noticing the article and B) making the connection. But she's a bigger blog slacker than me, so someone had to post it...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Package Deal

So, I've long been fairly annoyed by the degrees of inefficiency inherent in our mass-producing, commerce-worshipping, environmentally insensitive culture. At a previous dental office, I had a sort of horrifying epiphany when I saw how much PAPER was thrown away by JUST that office. Plus how much was thrown away by the five identically sized offices in that building. Plus how much was thrown away by the identical three buildings (18 offices) in that office park. Suddenly, I felt as though I was in a film, the camera panning out, zooming ever upward to include my town, then New Hampshire, then New England, North America and the Earth. In each phase, the amount of paper increases exponentially.


You can well imagine my irritation upon ordering a small diamond disk (used for opening contacts between teeth) which came in this plastic case:

That, in turn, was shipped in the following box:

C'mon, dental supply companies! (I'm talkin' to YOU, ironically-named SmartPractice...) You could've shipped that in a small padded envelope!

Stay tuned...I'll keep you all posted on my plan to use corn-based plastic bags as chair covers...

Monday, April 07, 2008


Oh, sometimes you just find something on the ol' inter-web that is just too fun for your own good.

Everybody remembers those cheesy motivational posters from the late 90s? "TEAMWORK" and there's a photo of a rowing crew and some pithy saying like, "The whole is greater than the sum of the parts." (or is is the sum of the squares of the sides of a right triangle? I can never remember...)

I had a faux one of these posters in my locker in dental school. It had a lovely shot of the Leaning Tower of Pisa:

Underneath it read: MEDIOCRITY - It takes a lot less work, and no one really notices the difference 'til it's too late.

Now, as anyone who knows me will tell you, I really try to be anti-mediocre...however, with all the assignments of dental school, my perfectionistic tendencies would have killed me in under two quarters. The poster reminded me to accept a little imperfection here and there, or I'd never finish anything.

Anyway, this site:
allows you to make your own. Too much fun!

Here's my contribution, w/ credit to my loving cat-loaf, Kirby: