By Timothy Hyland
For the past 20 years, Dr. Ted Morgan has been a tireless advocate for, and a staunch believer in, sedation dentistry.
Like so many of his dental peers, he's witnessed how the sedation protocols developed and taught by DOCS Education can not only improve oral health but also change lives.
Dr. Morgan’s practice has thrived thanks in large part to his strong reputation in the Portland, Maine area as a leader in sedation dentistry. He’s seen countless happy patients come and go, and he speaks with pride about the many individuals he’s helped over the years.
So when Dr. Morgan, now 72, is asked whether he has any words of wisdom for younger dentists who are just getting started with sedation, he offers a strong and confident reply: Keep it up.
“I would tell them if they are doing sedation – and even if the regulations and the restrictions get stricter and even if it takes more effort – they should just go ahead and do it anyway,” Dr. Morgan says. “Keep the faith. We’re doing a lot of good for a lot of people.”
Dr. Morgan, whose son Brett is also a dentist, knows that as well as anyone. After all, he was there when the sedation dentistry revolution was first going mainstream, and as an original investor in DOCS Education, also played a key role in helping the movement grow.
As with many other early adopters of the DOCS Education protocols, Dr. Morgan first became acquainted with sedation because of his professional friendship with DOCS Education co-founder and president Dr. Michael D. Silverman. Working alongside Dr. Silverman not only provided Dr. Morgan an understanding of how to safely sedate patients, but also a sneak peek at how powerful oral sedation could be in terms of helping people who may otherwise never find the courage to get themselves to the dentist’s office.
“We were trailblazers at the time,” he recalls.
Indeed, Dr. Morgan notes that it’s remarkable how similar the sedation practices of today are to those that he, Dr. Silverman, and others were using as far back as the 1990s. He and his fellow sedation pioneers got it right early on—and they’ve spent the past two decades honing those practices, developing even safer protocols, and perfecting the science of keeping patients comfortable.
Of course, as the practice of sedation dentistry has ignited over the years, and as more and more general dentists realized the great potential it holds for their patients and their practices, opposition from other dental industry special interest groups increased. That opposition continues to this day, though Dr. Morgan – like so many of his peers – continues to believe the resistance to their efforts has less to do with patient safety and more to do with dollars and cents.
“I can't remember how many years we had been doing it before we started to get pushback, which mostly came from the oral surgeons,” he says. “I think everybody in DOCS agrees that it’s really been a lot of fear-mongering and that these alleged dangers of (oral) sedation are all really a fabrication. It’s ridiculous.”
In a fairer world, Dr. Morgan says, there wouldn’t be any pushback at all.
“If reason and logic grow in our world, [sedation dentistry] will become more accepted and practiced more widely,” he believes. “It will be practiced in every dental office.”
For Dr. Morgan, there is plenty of good news: He and his peers in general dentistry continue to practice their craft—and as a result, millions of patients across the country are smiling brighter.
Reflecting on his long career, and in particular on the two decades he’s spent as a sedation dentist, Dr. Morgan admits that he's seen and helped so many patients that it’s sometimes hard to think about the one case he’s most proud of. There are just so many great stories, he says, and so many great outcomes.
“I think in big generalities — it’s a bit of a cloud of stuff in my head,” he jokes. “But I think the people who are the most grateful are the ones who are having a whole lot of dental problems, and just can’t work up the courage [to go see a dentist]. And then they finally come in, and we help them get out of pain. We help them function better, chew better, and live better. It literally changes their life.”
“I can think of one guy: an older man who I think is maybe 75 now. We started helping him about 15 years ago, and to this day, he’s just so grateful. He always comes in and is always thanking us for doing what we do, and for making [sedation] available. Because even today, he still needs it.”
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.