The year 2020 will go down in history as a year that changed everything. The experiences of last year will reshape our definition of “normal” life for many years to come. At Arrowhead Dental Laboratory and Aesthetic Dentistry magazine, the year opened with the passing of our founder, Dr. Dick Barnes. We were saddened by his passing but determined to carry on his mission of helping every dentist “become better and more productive.”
Just as we were beginning to implement a plan to continue Dr. Barnes’s legacy, the virus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and life for everyone took a dramatic turn. For many, dental offices closed, valued team members were furloughed, and contact with patients was drastically diminished. At Arrowhead Dental Lab and Aesthetic Dentistry, our busy schedule and constant interaction with dental professionals and their patients almost completely stopped for a time. The frenetic, fast-paced dental profession that we all know and love paused, and left us questioning the future.
In the past, Dr. Barnes always challenged those around him to “stop and see your world differently.” Even in the best of times it isn’t easy to slow down, let alone stop and try to understand life and dentistry in a different way. Running a practice, seeing patients, and dealing with everyday responsibilities can keep many of us from being able to follow Dr. Barnes’s advice.
“Dr. Barnes always challenged those around him to “stop and see your world differently.”
Despite the tragedies and difficulties of 2020, there were some accompanying opportunities. The slower pace of life during the pandemic gave nearly everyone an opportunity to experience the power of “seeing the world differently.”
Henry David Thoreau, the nineteenth-century essayist, wrote the famous quote, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.” This is generally accepted to mean that most people live life resigned to the mediocre instead of actively pursuing a higher passion. It was likely this idea that Dr. Barnes was speaking of when he recommended slowing down. He taught that it is only when we have the time to examine our actions and consciously work to change them that we make true progress.
Many dentists have taken the “forced pause” of this past year and used it to examine their lives and see their world differently. As proof, I only have to look at what happened at Arrowhead Dental Lab starting in June of 2020. Unexpectedly, Arrowhead started getting busy—really busy. And it wasn’t with the usual one- to three-unit cases that we often get from dentists. We started getting a lot of large cases from dentists who had never attempted complex reconstructive cases before.
Our technical support team reported having in-depth discussions with dentists who were tired of doing the same old type of dentistry. The types of cases dentists once thought were too complex to attempt were no longer beyond their skills, and they were willing to learn and try. They presented large, expensive cases to patients who were good candidates, and patients were saying yes. Perhaps those patients had a similar experience in seeing the world differently and were no longer satisfied living with a sub-optimal smile or decreased function.
Dr. Barnes was the consummate optimist. He refused to believe that his achievements were limited by external factors. Throughout his life he constantly worked to be the best dentist he could be, and when he found success, he decided to share it with anyone who would listen. In the very year of his passing, events transpired that allowed us to understand the power of seeing the world differently.
“Even though what we used to call “normal life” may not return for some time (if ever), perhaps that is a good thing. We have the power to lead lives of boisterous possibility if we have the courage to look, learn, and act”
Even though what we used to call “normal life” may not return for some time (if ever), perhaps that is a good thing. We have the power to lead lives of boisterous possibility if we have the courage to look, learn, and act. All of us at Arrowhead Dental Laboratory and Aesthetic Dentistry magazine are committed to continuing the legacy Dr. Barnes started, and we look forward to making 2021 more productive and full of possibility. We hope you will join us.