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63 – Practice Principle Number Three – Be Skeptical

Hi there. You are listening to the Perio Patient Podcast, a podcast for my patients and anyone else who cares to listen. My name is Dr. Ben Young, and I am a periodontist in private practice in San Antonio, Texas. This is podcast Episode 63 and I have entitled it “Practice Principle Number Three – Be Skeptical.”

Welcome if this is your first time listening. Otherwise, welcome back.

So far I’m not convinced.

So far I have not taken the vaccine but it isn’t because I don’t believe in vaccines — or even new discoveries and inventions in the world of vaccines.

Frankly, it is in protest.

I am protesting against authoritarian medicine — against mandated lockups, mandated masks, mandating the healthy to give up employment, or going to school rather than quarantining the infected and isolating within reason those at risk. I protest a system that has one answer which changes for the convenience of leaders but not society. We started with working to flatten the spread to protect our medical system.

Then we got into the need for respirators — because people were directed well as to what to do until they couldn’t breath and ended up at the local emergency room. Scientists and medical providers started talking about earlier treatments that were working and enabling people to recover without needing hospitalization — but this seemed to work against narrative having more to do with politics than with a good practice of medicine. For example, we learned about hydroxychloroquine, and ivermectin, two safe and inexpensive medications, but were told they didn’t work and should not be used. Also Vitamin D and Zinc were found to be important and explained by a few outside of government run public health departments.

In fact, as reports came out, because they did not comply with World Health Organization recommendations – the same group that has down played the role of the Communist Chinese Party in this pandemic, social media oligarchs began censoring real medical experts.

Again, I’m not knocking vaccinations, but the hand is now being overplayed to the point were certain authoritarian leaders are telling We the People to just accept a new lockdown normal.

I’m glad we have vaccines, but I question why those who have had this particular virus do not provided more than enough immunity not to now require a vaccine. If you have had the chicken pox for example, I don’t believe you need the chicken pox vaccine. Why is this different? It isn’t as far as I can tell.

Will the vaccines work? Probably. Does everyone need one? Well, go back to the risks. Who is at risk of dying — not just getting sick, but expiring? We all have had the flu. It can be awful — but our chances of dying are extremely low — unless of course our immune system is weakened by age or other significant medical problems.

Here’s the deal. I teach and practice a philosophy of care intended to partner with patients, not direct and control them. I want people to think for themselves, which brings me to my practice principle number three.

Be Skeptical.

Probably about 80% of what I do today was not learned in dental school because it was either scientifically not yet known or the technology did not exist. If I was not constantly studying and reviewing things skeptically after graduating from formal education, I would not be providing up-to-date care today. This is simply the nature of the exponential growth of science and technology in our current age.

But of course, just because something is new doesn’t mean it is better or even any good — so I have to continually watch and see what makes enough sense to change my protocols.

And I want others to be skeptical too — even if it means skeptical of me — because we each have to operate with a sense of ownership — and it is the open discussions thankfully provided us by that First Amendment Right of Freedom of Speech that enables us to push each other toward better care going forward.

As a patient, you need to think, “This is my body and I will ultimately decide what is best for me.”

The worst cop out statement I periodically hear is, “Well, you’re the doctor…” This is actually code for, “This had better work, because if it doesn’t, I’m holding you completely responsible.”

Here is a close second cop out — and you might think this, but I doubt it — but it sets people up for really poor dental care — “I want whatever my insurance allows.”

People in this category will probably get a vaccine primarily because it is free. I know these people exist because periodically our paths cross, but generally not for very long, because we don’t mesh philosophically — and usually they don’t listen to podcasts like this one. I preach that 80 percent of your care is what you do for yourself and 20 percent is what I and other health providers do for you.

But rest assured that I own my twenty percent because I want to provide the highest quality care I can provide — which, as this practice principle describes — must be constantly evaluated with a healthy level of skepticism. In this way what I provide will constantly be tweaked or periodically radically altered if this is what is necessary to stay as close to the front line of my specialty as I possibly can be.