Reality vs. Social Media
Episode #324 with Dr. Nate Lawson
Social media can be a great tool for dentists. It’s a growing resource for clinical examples, and an effective way to market your practice. But it can also have its downsides. To share some of his personal learnings on these platforms, Kirk Behrendt brings in Dr. Nate Lawson for his insights into social media dentistry. What you see online isn't always reality! For tips on avoiding social media comparison, listen to Episode 324 of The Best Practices Show!
Social media is a great place to find visuals of clinical examples.
One disadvantage of social media dentistry is the perpetual comparison.
Constantly seeing unattainably beautiful dental work can skew your perception.
What's highlighted on social media is people’s best work — not their everyday work.
Strive to be better, not perfect. Perfection is unattainable.
Invest in yourself with continuing education. It will give you knowledge and confidence.
“There are parts of [social media dentistry] that are really great. I remember I graduated dental school in 2011, and I used to search on the internet to try to find examples of how to do stuff clinically, like how to do better crown preps, or veneer preps, or whatever I wanted to learn how to do. And there was very few information out there.” (08:02—08:22)
“One of the things that hit me, the only reason I was thinking about talking about this today was, I was looking at a post of a buddy of mine, and he posted this case that now I look back and I think it’s really nice. When I first saw it, the rubber dam was a little bit torn, and not every edge was perfect, and maybe there was a little bit of old composite left in the prep. And I thought to myself, ‘Well, look at that piece of crap.’ And then, I thought to myself later, ‘No, that's not a piece of crap. That's actually very beautiful dentistry.’ Like, if I did that on any given day, I would go home and feel great about it. I just maybe didn't get to look at it blown up to 10 times size. And it’s also, it didn't come after I had just looked at three different things that looked like they were the smoothest — I mean, they looked nicer than regular teeth. So, I do think that that's one of the disadvantages of social media and social media dentistry.” (14:35—15:34)
“I was doing a crown prep. And I was sitting there, and I was on my third, final impression, and I was looking at it. And I'm staring at the final impression, like looking at one part of the margin. And [the patient is] like, ‘What's wrong? Is it not good?’ I was like, ‘I don't know. I just don't know if it’s perfect, and I don't know if it’s great.’ And he said to me, ‘You know, the enemy of good is great,’ or something like that, basically meaning you get 95% of the way, and then to get the extra 5%, sometimes you kill yourself, and you sometimes even make it worse.” (18:24—19:01)
“A lot of times, where I run into trouble where my dentistry doesn't come out quite as perfect is sometimes when I'm pressed with time and I'm fighting this thing that's like, do I want to spend five minutes going around and finding this extra material, or this one special wedge that I think might work, or do I want to switch out three more wedges just to see if this one’s going to get in there perfectly, where I have to make some compromises in the quality. I think I have a base level of where I want to get, and then I try to get to that level, and then try to exceed it as often as I can.” (19:43—20:26)
“The stuff I see on social media, I don't think that anybody should use that — I mean, it’s great to aspire to that. And I feel guilty saying this because I don't think that any . . . You know, is it bad for me to sit here and say, ‘Don't aspire to making teeth look better than they did before every single time you restore one’? But I think we just have to be honest with ourselves that you can't do that every day.” (20:29—20:51)
“That's a thing about Instagram and social media, is there’s no filter and there's no peer-reviewed research. Even though it’s slow and it’s boring to read it, [research] has to pass peer review. And sometimes, on social media, you're not going to get that and you're going to get someone’s opinion. And sometimes, you can get ideas from that. But it can be a little dangerous sometimes to act solely on those ideas.” (27:20—27:51)
“It’s hard when you graduate from dental school and you've got no money, and then you start getting a little bit of money, but you've got loans you're paying off, to want to spend any money at all on continuing education. I was really hesitant to do that when I graduated. And I couldn't imagine spending $1,500 on something. Like, I had never spent $1,500 on anything, and I was like, ‘It’s sure not going to be school.’ And then, now, I look back and I'm like, ‘Man, if I would've taken the little bit of money that you spend and invest in yourself.” It comes back so much into the confidence that you have and the ability to make money doing dentistry. So, that's a big regret I have, personally.” (31:10—31:50)
Dr. Lawson’s background. (04:04—09:30)
Why this is an important topic in dentistry. (11:34—16:18)
Find the happy medium when exposed to social media. (18:09—21:16)
The chasm between simplicity and complex. (22:24—27:51)
Advice for young dentists. (28:49—31:50)
Plug for Practice-Based Research Network. (32:56—35:04)
Plug for Dentinaltube. (35:39—36:21)
Q&A for Dr. Lawson. (36:55—44:26)
Reach Out to Dr. Lawson:
Dr. Lawson’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nate.lawson.395
Dr. Lawson’s Instagram: @drnatelawson https://www.instagram.com/drnatelawson/?hl=en
Dentinaltube Instagram: @dentinaltube https://www.instagram.com/dentinaltube/?hl=en
Dr. Nate Lawson Bio:
Nathaniel Lawson, DMD PhD, is the director of the Division of Biomaterials at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry, program director of the Biomaterials Residency program, and the interim director of the Advanced Esthetic and Restorative Dentistry Residency program. He graduated from UAB School of Dentistry in 2011 and obtained his PhD in Biomedical Engineering in 2012. He has served as an investigator on over 50 research grants, published 50 peer-reviewed articles, four book chapters, over 25 articles in trade journals, and 75 research abstracts. His research interests are the mechanical, optical, and biologic properties of dental materials and clinical evaluation of new dental materials. He was the 2016 recipient of the Stanford New Investigator Award and the 2017 3M Innovative Research Fellowship, both from the American Dental Association. He has lectured nationally and internationally on the subject of dental materials. He also works as a general dentist in the UAB Faculty Practice.