You've Failed - Restoring Excellence

You’ve Failed


Jan 04

I prefer success of course.

It would be much simpler to always be successful. Whether in business, in clinical practice, in personal life.

But how would we learn new things? Most of us have learnt our strongest lessons through failing. The ones that teach caution that over-rides our nature. The ones that we can never forget. The ones that help be understanding and compassionate toward others.

Failures is not the exception to life. It isn't some sort of unusual occurrence that gets in the way of our otherwise normal path of success.

Failure is part of life.

Of course, we generally don't like to publish our failures quite so much as our successes, so we tend to see everyone else success, and only see our failure. It is easy to get the idea that we are failing at things, and others are not. Everyone has this feeling (well, most normal people). I had this feeling the other week when I did an endodontic perforation trying to find a canal.

Understanding and accepting failure is an important part in your development as a clinician. You cannot plan dentistry properly without understanding that most of it will fail. Often we leave dental school with the idea that any failure is wrong and things should last the life of the patient, or we are a terrible, terrible dentist.

Our experience levels are so limited at this stage that in fact, we may never have had a failure of any of our work. It can be a shock the first time a composite comes out, or a crown breaks, or we extract a tooth that we recently did root canal therapy on.

Obviously, failure is very much related to time in service. A crown failing after twenty years is a success. A crown failing after two years is not.

Now, I am not advocating bad dentistry, which has a failure rate that is rapid and catastrophic.

Nonetheless, unless the patient dies, most of your work will continue to deteriorate until it fails and needs replacement. The acceptance of this releases a huge weight from the clinician. It also helps to make sensible clinical decisions. It helps us to make reasonable promises to our patients. It helps our patients to have more reasonable expectations.

It helps us to plan for there to be tissue for the second or third round of treatment.

And it helps you to be cautious and humble.

Usually the teeth you are treating have failed. These teeth were designed by, depending on your belief's, God, or billions of years of evolution. It is unlikely anything you can buy from Dentsply or Henry Schein quite matches the research and development of the original tooth.

Plan for when it fails. It will.


About the Author

Dr Lincoln Harris has been completely focused on excellence and quality from the beginning of his career as a dentist. He established the first private dental practice in Bargara – Harris Dental Boutique in 2000. Since graduation he has trained extensively in Aesthetic Implant Techniques and Full Mouth Rehabilitation to attain immense skill and knowledge. With his vast dental knowledge Dr Harris coaches and trains dentists from all over the world on complex aesthetic dentistry, surgical techniques and business management. Dr Harris is the founder of RIPE. Restorative Implant Practice Excellence: Full Protocol group an international forum of over 70,000 members worldwide. The purpose of the group is to share information and excellence in the dental industry. He has also lectured in multiple cities throughout Australia, North America, Asia, Singapore, United Kingdom and Europe.