Readers of Incisor are invited to join the doctors and staff of DOCS Education as we celebrate our 20th Anniversary of service to the profession and the public.
Throughout 2019, in each edition of the newsletter, we’ll take the opportunity to share some of our proudest moments over the years, as well as offer a well-deserved nod to the dedicated men and women who’ve contributed to our success and the finest care of our members’ patients.
By Timothy Hyland
David Potts, DDS, realized the importance of sedation dentistry for his patients long before he became a key player in building the organization that would ultimately take the practice mainstream.
As an early adopter of sedation dentistry, Dr. Potts – whose Lake County Dental Care has been serving the people of Libertyville, Illinois, and surrounding communities since April 1974 – witnessed firsthand how the application of oral sedatives could help patients to get the dental treatments they so desperately needed—or, in many cases, simply muster up the courage to get themselves into a dental office.
And like his old friend Dr. Michael Silverman, who would go on to launch DOCS Education in 1999, Dr. Potts also realized that if more dentists were trained in sedation techniques, a vast number of other dental patients could be helped, too.
“Way back before DOCS Education was founded, Michael and I had been talking a lot about these techniques—about all of these things we had learned and the methodologies we had developed,” says Dr. Potts, who in 2018 was honored as a ‘Best-in-the-Nation Sedation Dentist.’
“Back then, pretty much all we had at our disposal were sedatives like Valium or Xanax or nitrous oxide, and we didn’t really have, like we have today, the ability to really predictably sedate people and do the monitoring and all of those important things. So looking back, the things that have evolved out of DOCS Education are really quite phenomenal.”
The fact that DOCS Education has come so far – and the fact that it has helped so many dentists and patients over the past twenty years – is in large part owed to the early belief and support of people like Dr. Potts.
Indeed, Dr. Potts wasn’t just a vocal proponent of sedation dentistry when Dr. Silverman was working to get DOCS Education off the ground. He was also an early investor. And though he subsequently sold his share of the company, he remains convinced that his investment was a wise one.
Not just for himself, but for dentistry as a whole.
“I believed in DOCS because I believed these practices would be attractive to a lot of dentists throughout the country, and even the world,” he says. “From a standpoint of doing business, yes, I saw that this could be a strong revenue stream where businesses made some money and those who would invest in it would make money. But the really beautiful thing about it is all of the people who it has helped.”
Dr. Potts says DOCS Education’s contributions to dentistry are two-fold: First, by bringing together like-minded dentists who believed in sedation dentistry at a time when the practice wasn’t widely accepted, the organization created a community where sedation techniques could be shared—and, ultimately, improved.
Additionally, the organization’s persistence over the years in expanding the scope of its work has played a critical role in making these practices more effective, and safer, than ever before.
“The organization has had a very positive impact because all of the training that these doctors can now receive, and more importantly, because of all of the patients who have been helped—and the practices that have thrived because of it,” Dr. Potts says. “DOCS has training in pretty much all forms of sedation now.”
“Dr. Silverman’s vision was that this was something that he could market to both professionals and patients. These patients—they didn’t talk to each other. People are embarrassed about being afraid, many of them. And there’s a huge group of them that wouldn’t even talk about it.”
Now, however, they do. Untold numbers of patients have had their smiles transformed because of sedation dentists like Dr. Silverman and Dr. Potts, and countless more will be helped in the years to come because of the continued work of DOCS Education.
Though old opponents of the practice and the organization continue to push back against the use of sedation in dental settings – oral surgeons, Dr. Potts notes, have been critical of DOCS from the very start, and likely will continue to be going forward – Dr. Potts sees on a daily basis just how essential sedition is.
Has it been great for his patients and his practice? Yes.
“I have a tremendous background in complex dentistry, and I continue to get advanced training [in those areas] but what sedation did was give me a source of people who needed the kind of care I could provide, but weren’t getting it,” he says.
“We’ve been able to help so many people. We saw a lady yesterday who we’ve been seeing for 20 years. She first came to us in March of 1999. We have basically redone most of the teeth in her mouth—her situation was just terrible. But now she is so grateful and happy.”
Author: Contributing writer Timothy Hyland has more than 20 years’ experience as a writer, reporter, and editor. His work has also appeared in Fast Company, Roll Call, Philadelphia Business Journal, and the Washington Times.