How Camaraderie Advances Cosmetic Dentistry
Salvatore Lotardo, DDS, AAACD, for the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry
Not even Albert Einstein was a lone wolf. In 1905, Einstein published multiple papers, notably his theory of special relativity. It has become common lore to portray Einstein as an isolated genius. In reality, Einstein wasn’t working in a vacuum, but rather he built his theories on the work that preceded him and his contemporaries with whom he exchanged ideas.
Was it just a coincidence that the greatest minds in science at the turn of the century—Einstein, Max Planck, J.J. Thomson, Ernest Rutherford, Werner Heisenberg, Niels Bohr, and Erwin Schrödinger—all came from the same region of Europe? Through collective efforts and shared ideas, these men developed a plethora of breakthroughs that ushered in the modern era of science. Facilitating their collaborations were organizations and institutions that provided the opportunity for these interactions.
As was the case then, it is now in dentistry. The days of the dentist working solo in a practice cut off from the profession are gone. Organizations and associations have emerged to fill the void created by the rapid rise of technology and the need for access to education, shared resources, and the exchange of ideas.
Over the last 30 years, the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) has brought together the best of our profession. As was the case in the Einstein era, this coming together of the top minds has resulted in advances in cosmetic dentistry at an unprecedented rate. Founded in 1984 by Dr. Jack Kammer and Dr. Jeff Morley, what began as a small gathering of dedicated individuals, the AACD has matured into the world’s largest organization dedicated to serving cosmetic dental professionals and the general public. The AACD includes more than 6000 dental professionals, laboratory technicians, educators, and researchers from 80 countries.
Is the AACD then a group of elitists joining forces for their own betterment? It’s the exact opposite. The AACD welcomes the experienced practitioners and novices, the teachers and students, the innovators and steadfast. History has taught us that we progress together, and the environment found in this academy fosters the type of camaraderie that benefits the dentist, the profession, and ultimately our patients.
The AACD provides world-class educational opportunities, is the leader in comprehensive responsible esthetics, and has an accreditation track second to none; but maybe most importantly, the AACD brings us together to share and learn. Concepts such as lingual matrices for anterior composites, customized impression copings to capture soft-tissue profiles, and bisacryl mockups to ensure minimally invasive veneer preparations are now commonplace because of the cooperation and the building on each other’s ideas and techniques fostered in the AACD.
Unlike individualized learning, people engaged in collaborative education capitalize on one another’s resources and skills (eg, asking for information, evaluating colleagues’ ideas, monitoring one another’s work). This proactive interaction means the participants are engaging in a common task in which everyone is accountable to each other. Whether these interactions are face-to-face or virtual discussions (eg, online forums, chat rooms), a common understanding is often reached, and this joint problem solving and collaborative paradigm enrich all parties.
The great scientists and thinkers didn’t necessarily aspire to win the Nobel Prize; rather, solving nature’s mysteries, challenging themselves to realize their potential, and improving the world motivated them.
There isn’t a Nobel Prize for dentistry, but we do honor dentists who achieve a level of excellence that is worthy of recognition. Accreditation is our acknowledgment of that accomplishment and one of the highest distinctions for cosmetic dentists. Attaining this excellence and realizing your true potential requires having a goal and plan. Accreditation is more than a medal; it is the framework and pathway that helps dentists reach their potential.
Navigating the world of continuing education, processing all the information, and developing the skills needed to practice at the highest levels are all part of the journey toward accreditation. And that’s the beauty of collaboration, mentoring, and progressing together. No one has to go it alone, because they are a part of something much larger.
About the Author
Salvatore Lotardo, DDS, AAACD
American Board of Cosmetic Dentistry
American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry
Nesconset, New York