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Letters: The Atlantic article response

July 08, 2019

In the May 2019 issue of the The Atlantic, author Ferris Jabr describes an incident where a dentist purchased a practice from a retiring dentist and discovers examples of extensive overtreatment. Patients have been informed and the retiring dentist is under indictment for insurance fraud and is being investigated by the Dental Board of California. The article also describes activities such as evidence-based dentistry, supported by the American Dental Association, and other policies intended to place a strong scientific base under oral health care. The article mentions that these efforts are ongoing and not necessarily understood or applied by all dentists.

The American College of Dentists supports the growing scientific basis for oral health care, the professional ideal of service to patients and others who need oral health care and the responsibility of dentists to help each other achieve these ideals and protect the public.

We, therefore, regard The Atlantic article as an opportunity for reflection on ways to build an even stronger dental profession, grounded in strong science, service and the mutually shared standards among dentists. We honor those who make patients’ oral health paramount.

It is understood that there are multiple, legitimate perspectives on the material presented in the article. There is an opportunity here to learn by listening to these multiple points of view. It is urged that the article be shared and discussed for what can be learned. In order to facilitate this kind of discussion, the college has developed a set of suggestions for hosting small-group discussions among professionals and for interacting with patients who may have read the article. These listening tools are posted below this response. These are not prescriptive statements; they are suggestions for building stronger relationships among dentists and with patients. The entire contents of the proposed engagement strategy are available and downloadable at the college’s website at

Thomas J. Connolly, D.D.S.
President, American College of Dentists