Embracing Change

By Randolph Todd, D.M.D., president, College of Diplomates of the American Board of Endodontics

Welcoming the New Year gives many of us an opportunity to pause and reflect. The impact of advances in technology, both personally and professionally, has seeped into many of our reflections.

As an example, I point to the latest movie release from the "Star Wars" franchise - the first movie, released in 1977, coincided with my graduation from dental school. I was almost as impressed with the fantastic innovations in cinematography as I was in the development of acid etch-bonding. At the time, everyone was amazed by the changes in the G.V. Black requirements of cavity preparation as a result of this new technology. I was only a neophyte and already the sands were shifting under my feet. It was clearly a sign of things to come.

During the past 40 years in the field of endodontics, I have watched my peers deal with change in many ways. Some more successfully than others, but all face the issues of change at some point. Many of us began to cloak the concept of change with the concept of efficiency. We began substituting measurement radiographs with electric apex locators. In the late '80s and early '90s, those of us who embraced rotary instrumentation were heretics and frowned upon. It took perseverance and continued research to break the bonds of hand instrumentation.

With advancing computer technology, digital radiography began to emerge as a viable substitute for film radiography. Innovation in magnification and illumination started to impact treatment, awareness of canal morphology and surgical outcome studies. Many of us who adopted the applications of these "toys" shared our experiences and supported the change, propelling these concepts into the mainstream.

Although much of the improved technology also improved efficiency, I point to the advances in computer technology that have beget better data storage, recordkeeping and communication as the real efficiency builders. Recent changes in the power of computing have enabled the use of CAT scan technology in the dental environment. New guidelines published by the AAE and American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology reflect on the future application of narrow field-of-view cone beam computed tomography in endodontics. Innovations in material science and file design throughout the years also have continued to improve how we practice.

It is amazing how quickly things are changing and how easily the "fear" is seeping in again. The new threat, I feel, is the introduction of the Internet and social media into education and the marketing of the endodontic community.

As the president of the College of Diplomates, I challenge you to embrace change, advance with it. Change is the foundation upon which everything grows. Your professional development is an ongoing process.

The mission of the COD is to support those in the process of challenging themselves with the Board-certification process. In addition to being essential to the viability of our specialty, the COD believes that attaining Diplomate status is a grounding and rewarding experience. However, as a Diplomate, I have come to realize that it can't stop there. The challenges of change are forever. I am excited to announce that the Board of Directors has responded to these challenging times and is dedicating the 2016 Summer Conference to the topic of the "Impact of the Internet and Social Media on the Endodontic Practice and Profession."

This meeting is exclusive to members of the College of Diplomates and those in the certification process. It will be held at Chѓteau ђlan Winery and Resort, in Braselton, Ga., September 14-18, 2016. Please visit the COD website or contact Executive Secretary Stacy Bogard at codabe96@comcast.net for further information. Looking forward to seeing all Diplomates and Candidates at the Summer Conference!

Dr. Randolph Todd is in private practice in New York, N.Y., and an assistant clinical professor at Stony Brook University School of Medicine.