Some of you may remember a blog I posted back in October in which I detailed the deplorable state of dentistry in our state. At the same time, I announced my intention to run for an open seat on the Oklahoma State Dentistry Board. Based on the positive feedback and high number of views the post received, many of you were very enthusiastic about my chances.


Regrettably, my campaign has hit a snag.

It seems that the Oklahoma Dentistry Board flagrantly discriminates against people who are not dentists. I find this practice outrageous! Look at our own State Board of Education. There is absolutely no requirement that board members have education certification; have worked in a public school system; understand school finance or operations; or possess any knowledge of public schools whatsoever. Yet this Board seems to function just fine! 😉

According to the Oklahoma State Dental Act:

The Board shall consist of eight dentist members, one dental hygienist member and two members who shall represent the public. The two public representative members shall be appointed by the Governor, subject to confirmation by the Senate.

At the present time, I believe my chances of earning one of those two appointments from Governor Fallin are somewhere between “slim” and “not a chance in hell”—probably leaning towards the latter. As a result, I am pursuing other options, including an online dentistry diploma from DeVry University. I should have that completed in about seven months.

In the meantime, I will continue to speak out on the issue of dental health in our state. We must continue to hold dentists accountable for the wellness of their patients. Many dentists continue to do the same thing over and over again while patients suffer from inadequate care. Let me illustrate by sharing a conversation between my dentist and me from this past week:

Dentist: Rob, I have some bad news. It looks like you have a cavity.

Me: That’s terrible. Why did you allow that to happen?

Dentist: What do you mean?

Me: Well, six months ago you said my teeth were just fine. Now you’re saying I have a cavity. You’re obviously trying to avoid taking responsibility.

Dentist: Why would I be responsible?

Me: These are your teeth. They may reside in my mouth and I may use them to smile at people, chew food and articulate sounds, but why should I be the only one responsible for keeping them cavity free?

Dentist: Have you been brushing and flossing every day? Have you cut back on your consumption of sugary foods?

Me: Oh c’mon, who does that? I don’t recall getting any emails or text reminders to do that  from you in the past six months. Have you ever assessed my ability to properly floss and brush or my knowledge of dental hygiene? Have you inspected my toothbrush to make sure it’s effective? You can’t just assume I know how to do these things. You know what they say about the word “assume.”

An occasional call or home visit to check on our teeth would be nice as well.

Dentist: What are you talking about—that’s crazy! Why would I do that?

Me: Because my teeth are your responsibility. Don’t you care about my dental health?

Dentist: It is YOUR responsibility to keep your teeth clean!

Me: There you go again! I’ll be damned if I allow you and your liberal bosses to lose another generation of my teeth! I’m just trying to shine the light on your inadequacies. You should not be getting stressed. I’m trying to support you!

Dentist: I don’t need you telling me how to do my job. I am an excellent dentist!!

Me: Apparently not as good as you think or I would not be sitting here with a hole in my tooth! I’m just saying if you keep doing things the same way over and over again, you must be insane. I’m just trying to help you become a better dentist.

Dentist: Get out of here and find yourself another dentist!

Me: Don’t worry—I will. I am going to take advantage of Representative Nelson’s new Dental Savings Plan, take my money from HealthChoice, and find a good private dentist who cares about my teeth!

There you have it. This is just another glaring example of the lazy, uncaring dentists that occupy dentist offices across our state. What is it with dentists and their reluctance to embrace accountability?

Until our state develops a comprehensive A-F dental grading system, mandates high-stakes dental exams for 8-year-olds, and establishes quantitative measures which tie dentist ratings and compensation to their patients’ dental health, we will continue to lag behind the nation when it comes to dental outcomes. For now,  I will continue to fight the fight for all citizens in Oklahoma, well. . . at least for those who have teeth.

Maybe we should look to see what Florida is doing. I hear all the great ideas come from there.

Postscript: My real dentists are the husband and wife team of Forrest and Bonnie Arnould in Tulsa, Oklahoma. They are both excellent dentists and always provide professional and compassionate service. Their staff is also outstanding. My cavities are mine and mine alone.