Porn For Your Practice: Make Yourself Miserable with Social Media

I have a confession to make. I am battling an addiction. This addiction is affecting my mood and my relationships. It has made me question myself daily. I am dealing with an addiction that many of us are also silently dealing with. I am addicted to pornography. The type of pornography I am addicted to is probably a little different than the kind of pornography that millions of Americans are. The results are no less insidious though. Viewing this particular type of pornography makes me constantly question if I measure up. It makes me question what I would do in those situations. It has me wondering how long it would take me. Could I go faster or slower? Can I do some of those moves with my hands? It’s not what you’re thinking…it is even worse. I am addicted to dental pornography.

Dental pornography is a colloquialism for these amazingly photographed and documented cases that you see online. We see some on the Facebook groups, but Instagram is my delivery system of choice. Just like hard core pornography, there is no strict definition. And just like Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart wrote in his decision in Jacobellis v. Ohio, “I know it when I see it.”

I typically see two different kinds of dental pornography. Hard core dental pornography is prosthodontist porn. Big full mouth cases with insanely fine finish lines. 16 unit veneer cases that look so natural you think they erupted that way. Full arch impressions that are so perfect, you think maybe the clinician that took the impression was a Dr. Strange and has the ability to manipulate matter on command. Bountiful All on X implant cases.

Hard core dental porn provided by Dr. Wade Pilling

Hard core dental pornography is bad for our psyches. It makes us question our skills in treatment planning. It makes us question our ability to get patients to say yes. It makes us question our skills in delivering “life changing dentistry.” It makes us yearn for the practice that these people have, not appreciate our practices. Hard core dental pornography makes me question all my career decisions because I don’t routinely get to do cases like that and when I do, they don’t look like that. Where did I go wrong? That dental porn makes me think that my career is a failure. We can never live up to the hard core dental pornography cases we see.

Soft core dental pornography might be even more insidious. These posts involve more simple, everyday procedures, but done so beautifully that you start to think of yourself as the world’s worst dentist. A great example of this is an occlusal composite that starts with a perfect rubber dam placement with floss ties tied around every tooth. The preparation is smooth and beveled, obviously taking multiple grits of diamond burs to achieve. The bonding process is meticulous and the composite is placed in about 20 different increments, culminating in occlusal stain be added to the fissure system and a glaze added. These restorations are polished to the point that you can see the ring flash in the sheen.

While hard core dental pornography makes you long for different circumstances, the soft core variety cuts you right in the soul. “This is the stuff I do all day! Why don’t my composites look like that??? How come mine looks like a composite but theirs looks like a real life natural tooth? Why am I such a crappy dentist? Is this the level of care that I should be providing. I feel so inadequate.” Those are the thoughts that run through my head every time I look at soft core dental pornography.

There is one constant thread that runs throughout both hard and soft core dental pornography. That thread is the photography. The photographs look amazing. They have a softness and definition that I have yet to ever achieve in my photographs. I asked a photographer friend to look at some and tell me what they thought the secret was. Turns out the answer opened my eyes to what was happening behind the curtain. The answer to the photography question was lots and lots of post processing. These pornographers are spending a ton of time giving their photographs that look with software. That may seem really obvious, but it made me think about all the time involved on these porn cases.

Some soft core dental porn by Dr. Aly Sergie

We are just getting to see the the highlight reel on these cases. We don’t have any idea of the time that went into those soft core pornographic occlusal composites. We don’t know if they have any hygiene checks they have to stop and do while they are doing this porno-dentistry. We don’t know if that full mouth case got a 50% discount so the patient would say yes and the clinician could document it. We don’t have any of the context surrounding these cases. Many of these dental porn accounts are European clinicians. I will be brutally provincial and say I have no earthly idea how the European dental market works. I can almost guarantee you that they aren’t on Delta. I am. If I took over an hour to do an occlusal composite for $124, I would go out of business.

Looking at these cases are not good for our mental health. While I appreciate the idea of aspiration, these cases don’t give me something to aspire to. They give me more things to make me feel bad about. These cases have made me question my self worth. They make me long for more, and quite frankly, they leave me depressed. Depressed to the point that I went to see a mental health specialist. She came up with a novel treatment plan. “Unfollow the dental porn accounts,” she said. Wow. I actually had never thought of that.So I did. I unfollowed all the @bitecamp and @biomimeticstudyclub and @iddentistry accounts I could.

Now my Instagram feed is chock full of dogs and bikini models. One vice at a time…