The other day I posted on Ortho101 what I believed to be an interesting and educational piece about the state of dentistry in Arkansas and across the county. Well, I was dead wrong! I had misread and misinterpreted the graphic and the stats as can happen when you’re ADHD, OCD and dyslexic as I am. It’s amazing that theses things don’t happen more often given my proclivities! Anyway, some very nice people in the group politely pointed out what a dumbass mistake I’d made and, as always happens when I realize I’ve made a public blunder, I got that hot feeling thanks to my parasympathetic nervous system. Instantly I had all kinds of ideas for excuses, rationalization and escape flash through my brain.

“I can delete the post! I can edit it and delete the people calling me out!! I can deny!”

Self-preservation is always our first instinct – it’s our nature. It’s how we are wired at our core but that doesn’t mean that we have to let our instincts dictate our actions!

So what??

So… This reminded me of a time long, long ago in a land far, far away when I was a shiny new orthodontist and a mom said to me,

“Dr Burris, last time we were here you said that next visit you were going to bond the back teeth (second molars) but now you are saying you’re just going to increase the wire size and start elastics?? What gives?”

I looked in the mouth and saw that the 7s were misaligned and realized that bonding them probably was my plan last visit and is the best move at this point but that I had neglected to document this plan and now I’d dropped the ball… What to do? What to do?

Option 1 (The most appealing to me in the moment)

Smiling nervously and starting to sweat I say, “Um, yeah, right, that’s what I said but I changed my mind based on the need for AP correction in order to facilitate more harmonious mastication and interlocking of the inclined planes of the posterior teeth. This will create an environment more favorable to alignment of the second molars so now the plan is to bond the back teeth next time.”

Mom smirks, knows I’m full of it, makes a mental note that I’m not to be trusted and plans to tell her friends that I’m too proud to admit when I’m wrong.

Option 2 (The truth)

“Mom I’m so glad you’re here and involved in your child’s treatment! You’re exactly right. I totally spaced it! Thanks so much for reminding me before I let her go. Doing it your way will save us time because if I go up in wire size before bonding the back teeth I would just have to drop back down again to pick them up! Well done! Maybe you should work here and keep me straight full time?!?”

Mom smiles broadly and basks in the moment. Why wouldn’t she? I just told her those three little words that every woman (and man) loves to hear –


She knows people make mistakes. She knows I’m no more perfect than she is but she appreciates that I’m not one of those jackasses who can’t admit it.

Which option do you choose when you realize that you’re off base? Which makes more sense for your business, your partner, your kids? Which option makes you feel good about yourself and which affords the best night’s sleep? Are you even willing to consider the possibility that you’re wrong?

Being right is great. Everyone wants to be right but when there is more than one opinion, someone is probably at least partially wrong (or perhaps everyone is dead wrong). Consider this possibility, understand that correcting errors now and telling the truth is in all of our best interests. Live with a totally clean conscience –  It’s the only way to roll! Especially if you have a terrible memory like I do!