Total Health Dentistry: What’s it All About?

By Dr. Susan Maples

What a strange and turbulent time to be in dental practice and leadership. All eyes are on us as to how we navigate for ourselves and our at-risk patients through this systemic disease threat. By now you know that dentists and hygienists are at the very top of the list of occupationally hazardous professions for COVID-19. This leaves many of us feeling anxious and wanting to help.

This is a unique time — when every person asks themselves if they would be at risk of death or disability with an inadvertent COVID-19 exposure. We know that that the most at-risk segment of our population is those who are afflicted with airway disorders, obesity, insulin resistance (the precursor to diabetes) and metabolic syndrome. If you live a typical American lifestyle, these risks more than likely include YOU. But what does any of this have to do with the mouth? Everything!

“The mouth illuminates all the signs, and once you ‘see’ them, it makes it impossible to ‘unsee’ them.”

It wasn’t too long ago that dentists thought the mouth was its own private domain, that not much of what went on in there was linked to the rest of the body — and vice versa. Today, we understand that the most prevalent life-altering and life-threatening conditions we encounter have early telltale signs in the mouth. If you haven’t yet explored these, hang on to your seat — the evidence is staggering.

Only a short time ago, dentists and hygienists didn’t know (for examples) that:

  • Most sleep and airway disorders can be prevented by addressing structural/development concerns in newborns, babies and toddlers.
  • Tooth decay is a preventable bacterial infection passed to babies from their caregivers’ saliva.
  • Periodontal disease is a major risk factor for heart attack, stroke, dementia and erectile dysfunction.
  • Diabetes has a bidirectional relationship with periodontal disease, each making the other worse.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection from oral sex would replace smoking as the single biggest risk factor for oral pharyngeal cancer.

And this list goes on and on!

Our patients’ weakened host-immune response is mostly a result of the most common ailments in our culture: oxygen/sleep deprivation; a defective, sugared-up food supply; and, a sedentary lifestyle. When a patient visits you for his or her three- or six-month preventive appointment, they bring you all the evidence. The mouth illuminates all the signs, and once you “see” them, it makes it impossible to “unsee” them.

It’s time to embrace a personalized model for dental care, focused on far more than your teeth, gums, joints and muscles. By learning to identify the countless links and causes between systemic health and oral health, your entire dental team will soon play critical roles in helping each one of your patients (from age 1-100) live a healthier, happier and sexier life!

In today’s health care environment, which is focused on using a host of medications to put out small fires, helping your patients identify the root cause of their diseases becomes a rare GIFT. From there, helping individualize a wellness track does several things for your practice:

  • With your total health reputation, you will attract patients who value their health from a wide sweep around your practice location.
  • By earning trust, you’ll also earn the right to perform some significant restorative dentistry.
  • By collaborating with other health professionals, you’ll build a remarkable network of co-referral relationships and enhance the quality of your patient base.
  • By focusing on integrative health, you’ll add value to the hygienists’ role and enhanced hygiene profitability through adjunctive testing.
  • Through developing this sought-after niche, you’ll get the golden keys to insurance independence, if that is something you seek.

If you thought enhancing a smile was exciting, try giving someone a new lease on a vital life, while you restore their mouth to optimal health as well. It won’t take long before it becomes your new passion. Total health dentistry is more than a compelling morale builder — it’s a way of life.


Dr. Maples is the founder of Total Health Academy and developer of Hands-on Learning Lab and can be reached at susan@drsusanmaples.com. She is a speaker at the 2021 Florida Dental Convention and will be presenting three courses. On Friday, June 25, “Seeing in the Mouth with Super Powered Eyes: Total Health Dentistry” is at 2 p.m. On Saturday, June 26, “Slaying Dragons: Acid Reflux and Diabetes Detection” is at 9 a.m. and “Creating Powerful Co-referral Relationships with Medical Professionals: Becoming a Practice of Distinction” is at 2 p.m. Register at floridadentalconvention.com.

Reprinted from Today’s FDA, May/June 2021. Visit floridadental.org/publications to view the Today’s FDA archives.

Leadership Can Take on Many Forms

By Dr. Angie McNeight

Leadership in the dental field takes on many forms. From leading our own team members in the office every day to our involvement in organized dentistry and in our communities, we find ourselves called to be leaders more often than we realize. Effective leaders are passionate, committed, inquisitive, solicitous and available. They lead with integrity, handle conflict fairly and maintain confidentiality where required. While some of these qualities are inherent to the individual’s personality, many of these traits and abilities can be improved through learning opportunities and practice.

“I’ve found that the most important piece of leadership is cultivating personal relationships. Becoming genuinely interested in others and getting to know them on a personal level builds trust and rapport.”

Leadership within a dental practice is frequently combined with management, and the lines are commonly blurred between the two. Leaders formulate ideas and motivate their teams to understand the vision they have set forth. Managers focus on the day-to-day activities, setting measurable goals to report success. In small businesses, these two roles often are combined and frequently overlap.

My partner, Dr. Ryan Caudill, and I own and manage our office, and we work hard to be as organized and clear as possible to our 18 team members. We spend time training them, outlining expectations and cultivating problem-solving skills to improve self-awareness. Our morning huddles, monthly team meetings, and yearly staff reviews keep everyone focused on common goals and ensure processes are consistently followed. We also take each team member to lunch once a year on their own with the doctors to get to know each other better. Our yearly patient appreciation parties and team-building days outside the office setting are some of our favorite memories together and help strengthen these relationships. I am a more effective leader when I better understand the person I am leading.

Drs. Ryan Caudill (center left) and Angie McNeight (center right) along with their team.

Leadership outside the office in our communities and professional organizations can be a challenge with varying personalities and leadership styles. Staying positive and focusing on the task at hand are helpful in achieving a favorable result that benefits everyone. At Dentists’ Day on the Hill each year, I am reminded that community leaders are looking to us for guidance on critical issues, and actively listening to understand others is the first step.

I’ve found that the most important piece of leadership is cultivating personal relationships. Becoming genuinely interested in others and getting to know them on a personal level builds trust and rapport. I aim to bring others into the conversation as much as possible, creating a safe space to voice opinions while encouraging others to listen and reflect attentively. This is especially important in our virtual (Zoom) meeting spaces, where having your camera on, being engaged and calling on those who may be more reserved is essential for ensuring everyone’s perspectives are heard and team decisions are made. As a leader, I also strive to be as available and responsive as possible, ensuring fellow colleagues and community members have my cellphone number so they can easily reach me at any time. Responding to emails, texts, phone calls and social media messages in a timely manner (aka as quickly as possible) is a vital sign of respect. 

As the Leadership Development Committee (LDC) chair of the Florida Dental Association (FDA), my charge is to improve leadership within our association. Our yearly LEAD: Leaders Emerging Among Dentistry event is one of the opportunities you can take part in to improve your own leadership skills with seminars related to public speaking, social media for leaders and effective meeting management. As a committee, we work together to find people who are interested in leadership positions within the FDA and help guide them on their leadership journeys. We also collect applications and nominate candidates for the speaker of the house, treasurer/treasurer-elect and editor positions of the FDA.

One of the most important jobs of every volunteer leader is to find your own replacement. You know what it takes to do the job better than anyone, so finding the right person to fill your shoes will ensure they continue on a forward path, building on what you put in place. Encouraging colleagues to join a committee is wonderful but mentoring them along the way is what truly fosters leadership. The LDC helps find these leaders and cultivates them for success.

I strive every day to improve my own leadership skills through building relationships, communicating clearly and showing integrity. Reflecting on your leadership strengths as well as areas that need improvement will help you become the best leader you can for your team, your colleagues and your community.


Reprinted from Today’s FDA, May/June 2021. Visit floridadental.org/publications to view this issue and the Today’s FDA archives.

#FDCYouSoon

By Dr. Becky Warnken, FDC2021 Program Chair

We will have gone 727 days without a Florida Dental Convention (FDC) when we arrive for FDC2021. One year, 11 months and 27 long days missing our colleagues, completing our continuing education (CE) remotely, and working diligently in our offices to provide care during an unprecedented time. Needless to say, I cannot wait to #FDCYouSoon!

Your entire Committee on Conventions and Continuing Education has worked without pause during this time to continue to offer you the dynamite CE and family fun you have come to know and love. We are bursting with excitement to welcome you back to the Gaylord — safely!

Here are some answers to some frequently asked questions about FDC2021.

When is FDC2021? When can I register?

The FDC2021 is June 24-26 at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center. Registration is OPEN! Early Bird Registration closes on April 16 and regular registration ends June 11. Register online at floridadentalconvention.com. On-site registration will apply June 12-26. Register yourself and your team early for the best savings and a chance at a space in any of the courses. As a reminder, FDA members receive free pre-registration!

What courses are available for doctors?

We know you are excited to get back to some in-person and hands-on CE! This year’s program is jam packed with exciting courses and hands-on workshops and mini-residencies. The list is endless, however there is sure to be a plethora of options for everyone. The Dawson Academy will be teaching the first in-person “Dawson Seminar 2” on Thursday and Friday. Be sure to check out the “Head and Neck Cancer Symposium,” which will offer incredible insights into diagnosing, treating, and supporting patients with head and neck cancers throughout their treatment and survivorship. There are countless hands-on workshops featuring everything from full-arch reconstruction, mastering the single central with CEREC, oral surgery techniques, posterior composites, Botox, tongue and lip tie treatment, and so much more. This program also features two separate mini-residencies, “You Need Sleep and So Does Your Dental Practice” and “Dental Implant Therapy.” There are too many dynamite speakers to list, so I encourage you to check out the entire program! This year’s registration site has some fantastic upgrades that allow you to search by topic, audience, day and more, as well as suggested courses for those you pick to help you build three solid days of CE. Be sure to check out the expanded Saturday options as well — they will not disappoint! Visit floridadentalconvention.com for information.

Should I bring my dental team?

We know that everyone on the dental team is ready for some in-person, hands-on CE action and I am confident that the entire team will find courses that they can be excited about. There are quality, free keynotes to begin your days together. Be sure to check out all three days of programming, as there are courses for the team Thursday morning through Saturday afternoon. Whether you are looking for coding courses for your administrative team, treatment planning and presentation for your entire team, implant parts, temporaries and even impressions for your assistants, or anesthesia and non-surgical debridement techniques for your hygienists — the opportunities for quality CE for your team members are plentiful! There is a killer lineup of speakers for your team to choose from and I can’t wait for them to enjoy the wide range of CE that will be available. They are sure to enjoy the social events as well.

Early Bird registration ends on Friday, April 16! Register yourself and your team early for the best savings and a chance at a space in any of the courses.

What is there for my family to do?

This year we have added new programming for all attendees, including “Yoga on the Lawn” each morning. Guests also are invited to “Dueling Pianos” on Thursday and our “Wonderland Party” on Friday night. The Gaylord has amazing facilities to keep everyone entertained as well — be sure to check out the pool and new rapid river! This amazing venue continues to expand and welcome families for a much-needed getaway that everyone can enjoy. Beyond the Gaylord, be sure to check out the discounted tickets for Walt Disney World theme parks. Orlando has so much to offer, and everyone deserves a little getaway this year!

I personally cannot wait to #FDCYouSoon!

Reprinted from Today’s FDA, March/April 2021. Visit floridadental.org/publications to view Today’s FDA archives.