The DOCS Education homepage, when the continuing education provider and membership organization was celebrating its 10th Anniversary.
The DOCS Education homepage, when the continuing education provider and membership organization was celebrating its 10th Anniversary.

The internet is ripe with websites that allow us to peer back 20 years and review the news, sports, scientific, and cultural highlights of 1999.

A quick scan reminds us:

  • William J. Clinton was president (his impeachment trial began on January 7, 1999)
  • John F. Kennedy Jr. and his wife Carolyn went down at sea in a plane that ‘John John’ was piloting
  • Baseball legend Joe DiMaggio was called up to the Big League in the sky
  • John Elway and the Denver Broncos defeated the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl 33
  • You could buy three first-class postage stamps with a dollar and still get change (okay, only a penny)
  • Nearly 150 million people around the globe were internet users
  • The world waited and worried about the Y2K bug and whether it would usher in Armageddon (It didn’t.)

Nowhere in all the major online accounts of 1999 will you find a word about the founding of DOCS Education; back then more of a vision of what might be than a substantive continuing education and membership community.

Dr. Michael D. Silverman, a 1985 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, was not the first practicing dentist to recognize the value of oral sedatives to alleviate the fear and anxiety of his patients. Journaled articles and clinicians had been testing and demonstrating the science and safety of triazolam and other short-acting benzodiazepines for years.

DOCS 20th Anniversary

Dr. Silverman’s masterstroke was to recognize the need to share his success using oral sedatives with his dental peers.

He began teaching the protocols that worked for him and his patients in informal settings — the offices and homes of fellow dentists. He would also guest lecture at organized dental conferences, boot camps, and societies, all while juggling his own patients.

But Dr. Silverman realized that the lessons were too important and the random schedule of his lectures too inefficient to be of real aid to the tens of millions of Americans who avoided the dentist altogether - or sought treatment only after their oral discomfort or embarrassment became too great to ignore.

So, Dr. Silverman partnered with Dr. Anthony S. Feck, a distinguished dental educator and clinician, and in 1999 DOCS Education was founded to teach sedation dentistry, service its practitioners, and convey its benefits to the masses.

Its birth was greeted, in most dental quarters, with derision or simple indifference.


The Art of Perseverance

Of Dr. Silverman’s many talents — as a dentist, entrepreneur, marketer, and teacher — the one characteristic that has served him best over the past two decades has been perseverance. A less dedicated CEO would have folded shop dozens of times during the evolution of DOCS Education, as each step of progress was matched almost in lockstep by the appearance of a new, seemingly intractable obstacle.

The dentistry profession is not known for its quick embrace of innovation and innovators, and Dr. Silverman and DOCS Education have the business scars and bruises to prove the point.

Impressively, those who know Dr. Silverman well, know that he never dwells on the naysayers and fearmongers.

His vision is always forward facing, seeking ways to improve on what he’s already accomplished and forging new pathways to serve the profession and the patients who rely on dentists.

Although no one has an exact count, the little continuing education provider that began its uphill journey in 1999 has, with time, resulted in nearly 24 million Americans receiving safe, efficient, sedation care as taught by Dr. Silverman and the team of talented instructors who’ve inherited his teaching duties.

To put that number of patients in perspective, it equates roughly to every man, woman, and child currently living in Australia and New Zealand.

(Perhaps, knowing what we know now — and the impact it has made — the birth of DOCS Education should be included among the recognized highlights of 1999.)

Thanks to DOCS Education, in the America of 2019, sedation dentistry is no longer a backwater. Grateful patients rely on it to restore and maintain their oral health, nary giving a thought to the long journey that Dr. Silverman, Dr. Feck, and DOCS Education have taken to make it so.

Today, the DOCS Education protocols are widely respected as the “Bible” of sedation dentistry. Moreover, DOCS Education has regularly expanded its curriculum, offering a variety of training options from IV sedation and pediatrics to advanced life support and emergency airway management. (Early this year, DOCS Education will introduce its newest course, Innovative Digital Dentistry and Implantology: Harnessing Technology to Relieve the Stress of Implant Dentistry, Maximize Safety and Accuracy, and Grow Your Annual Production by at Least Six Figures.)

Each class, be it taught in person or increasingly online, is designed to enable dentists to offer a higher standard of care to their patients.


An Unchanged Mission

As we celebrate our 20th year of service, we are enormously proud and honored that more than 24,000 dentists have completed one or more of our courses.

Indeed, while DOCS Education continues its role as one of the nation’s most respected educators of dentists and team members, we’ve evolved into a community of professionals at the forefront of our profession who share a dedication to lifelong education, public service, and providing the highest quality of patient care.

Oral health is critical to overall well-being and quality of life. That was true in 1999, and it remains foundational to our mission in 2019.

[Editor’s Note: Look for future articles throughout the year reflecting on the growth of DOCS Education and how it has influenced the dentistry of today, as well as the outlook for our profession in the years to come.

If you have anecdotes, recollections, or photos related to DOCS Education’s 20th Anniversary that you’d like to share with our readers, please let us know by emailing us at:]

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