Two months ago, my first child was born. Her name is Sylvia, and she is beautiful . . . except when she’s not. When she’s happy, she looks like an angel. But when she’s upset, Sylvia looks like Red Forman from That ‘70s Show—a scowling, irritable sort with tufts of brown hair above her ears that betray her true age.
As a family, we’re getting along well so far. My wife and I are bumbling along, making all the mistakes new parents make. Up to now, I’ve had most of the answers—change, feed, burp, swaddle, repeat—but there’s one thing I haven’t figured out. It’s kind of a nagging question that I know will demand an answer soon, and that question is this: What do I need to teach Sylvia to prepare her for this world?
In thinking about this question one night, the words of my father percolated into my mind: “There’s moderation in all things, Zac. Moderation in all things.” Now, these words basically summed up my father’s philosophy in life, and for the longest time I found them woefully lacking. They didn’t seem to help me solve many of my life’s challenges. But I must swallow my pride and admit that recently they have helped me quite a bit. I’ve come to understand “moderation in all things” to mean “balance” and “use critical thinking to consider all facets of a problem.” So, when I think I have all the answers, I realize I don’t. When I feel helpless, I realize I’m actually not. When I feel angry, I know it’s time to diffuse that anger with humor. I know there is a time to fight for what I believe in, but a time to accept that I can’t control everything. Put a different way, it’s about moderating those parts of us that can wreck us if we let them monopolize our lives.
Moderation has its place in business and our careers, too. In our dental world, that means balancing different realities, including these: dental practices need to make money to survive, but many dental professionals aren’t in it for the money. This month’s cover story (p. 26) is about this dynamic and the competing interests of compassion and production. Julie Whiteley looks at this dynamic in-depth, and you’ll find her approach to the problem isn’t purely philosophical. Whiteley discusses practical solutions to ethically meet patients’ needs while acting in the best financial interest of the practice. As Whiteley says, “What I have learned is that these two measures are not mutually exclusive, and in fact work in concert with each other.”
Balance also has its place in the division of labor. In order to meet the oral health crisis in America—and really around the world—the responsibilities of oral care will need to be segmented into different levels of care between providers of varying focus. This month’s issue features the first in a series by Melissa Turner on direct-access dental hygiene (p. 12). Her argument for direct access, along with her interview with an independent dental hygienist in Colorado, shows that Turner is ready to galvanize the dental hygiene ranks to solve the stubborn health challenges of today.
As it so happens, writing this is the last thing I have to do before taking Sylvia to the dentist. We’re driving to Oklahoma City to see a doctor who will evaluate her for ankyloglossia (tongue-tie). The two-hour trip, I’d guess, will give me plenty of time to think more about the day I say to my daughter, “Moderation in all things, Sylvia. Moderation in all things.”