Creativity vs Certainty
In the field of dentistry, there remains an ongoing debate with respect to the significance of creativity in our esthetic work as technicians vs consistency or certainty in the finished product. In his 2016 article "Creative Certainty," Matthew Clark asserts that "creativity and certainty are not necessarily mutually exclusive ideas." Clark, with whom I tend to agree, maintains that "creative certainty is not an oxymoron"; and yet, "the balance of creativity and certainty is not a midpoint along a spectrum of two polar opposites." 1
Similarly, in esthetic dentistry, each of these concepts can and should co-exist. We as technicians must work at creating a balance between creativity and certainty. We recognize the consistent basic morphological properties, yet to believe that every tooth is exactly alike, that every tooth functions in the same way, or that the same esthetic mold works in all faces would be absurd. Nonetheless, that consistency seems to be what many of us, including our clients, continue to strive for and demand. I hear very often while teaching from technicians, management, or even owners that "the dentists do not want that." To our advantage, the digital world has and continues to play a key role in creating a consistent certainty in our restorations. It fails, however, to provide the creative human element or individualized approach necessary for the optimum benefit of our work and the satisfaction of our clients and patients. Empathy, which comes with understanding the needs of individuals and using our creativity to foster the ownership that comes with an artistic approach, is essential. Moreover, creativity is essential to the technician when building restorations that work to complement the individual needs of the patient.
Each case we work through has its own obstacles and we must prepare for these unplanned issues, which can create havoc on the certainty and/or consistency of our finished product. A creative approach in conjunction with a focus on consistency is therefore essential. Employing a process that allows us to be creative while delivering a consistent result is our goal. Even from a business perspective, creativity is essential in creating ownership in building restorations, sharing ideas or concepts, and inspiring teammates to stay motivated. While our dentists and patients expect a consistent product, stifling the creative side of what we do would disconnect us from the individualized art that we seek to provide.
There are as always pros and cons to any approach. Also, at the same time that we strive to improve upon our work, there is the constant influx of new materials and techniques that adds to the challenge. Nevertheless, I strongly believe that our individual futures and the successful outlook of our industry will be more secure when creativity and certainty effectively coexist.
Peter Pizzi, MDT, CDT