Ask Questions About How Your Patient Feels 

May 13, 2024 Paul Henny DDS

Paul Henny DDS

I wrote about this topic last October in The Never-Ending Interview and wanted to revisit it to connect the timeless teachings with my most recent thoughts. Bear with me as I recount some of the history from that previous article. 

Dr. F. Harold Wirth had a very successful restorative practice in downtown New Orleans but he always felt that something was missing until he met Dr. L.D. Pankey and was influenced by his teachings. Dr. Wirth became a missionary for Dr. Pankey’s philosophy of dentistry and life, and he gave Dr. Pankey most of the credit for developing a deeper understanding of people, both physically and emotionally.  

One of Dr. Wirth’s key messages from the podium was that dentists are always presenting the case, even from the beginning of their first encounter with the patient. Another key message was that the patient’s feelings matter in accepting care and the patient interview should be forever ongoing. 

He said, “Every time the patient comes in, you’re doing a presentation. As a matter of fact, I think the interview is forever ongoing. It might only be one word, but every time the patient comes into your office, you should be interviewing them.” 

He said, “Ask questions that have to do with how the person feels. A case history is exploring what happened. An interview is about how they feel! You need to understand the difference!” 

We might ask, “Since I last saw you, have you noticed any changes in your oral health? How do you feel about these changes?” We might ask, “How do you feel about the appearance of your teeth?” or “How do you feel about the restorations we did?” We might ask, “At your last visit, you talked about the possibility of doing ortho; how do you feel about that now?” We might ask, “You mentioned last visit that you weren’t looking forward to Thanksgiving because it was difficult to eat all your favorite foods. Would you feel good about revisiting the possibility of replacing your denture with something more stable?”  

Do you feel better after a long conversation with someone who knows you well on the emotional level? I know I do. Over time, those kinds of conversations cause us to feel more positive and hopeful. They occur when a person gifts us their full attention while making no attempt to judge. And because we experience no judgment, we share more feelings, which leads us into an even deeper level of self-understanding. 

Doctor-patient conversations that tap into how a patient is feeling on an emotional level enable patients to grow in trust and to become more open to the possibilities we offer.  

In her recent blog series, Mary Osborne has encouraged us to journey toward health with our patients as fellow travelers because we all have health issues we hope to resolve. We can make connections over shared feelings and hopes. These connections bond us so we can pursue a mutual, positive goal with our patient.  

What I love and sticks with me from Mary’s blog is that the medical health review during each preclinical interview is an ideal time to check-in about feelings regarding health in general. So, if you and your team are not doing that now, you might want to add a question about the patient’s feelings about their current health. It’s ideal if the doctor or hygienist  asks the question. It may be as simple as “How do you feel about your overall health?” Wait for the patient to think and speak.  

One of my favorite quotes is this: 

Any kind of gesture that pulls another living soul out of despair is indistinguishable from magic. – Michael Xavier, Author 

The medical history review is a prime opportunity to demonstrate we care. Expanding our preclinical interview to routinely ask one or more questions that surface feelings related to health will give us opportunities to touch hearts on a deeper level. This will engender greater trust so patients more readily accept us as partners in their health.  

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DATE: May 23 2024 @ 8:00 pm - May 23 2024 @ 9:00 pm

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Paul Henny DDS

Dr. Paul Henny maintains an esthetically-focused restorative practice in Roanoke, Virginia. Additionally, he has been a national speaker in dentistry, a visiting faculty member of the Pankey Institute, and visiting lecturer at the Jefferson College or Health Sciences. Dr. Henny has been a member of the Roanoke Valley Dental Society, The Academy of General Dentistry, The American College of Oral Implantology, The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, and is a Fellow of the International Congress of Oral Implantology. He is Past President and co-founder of the Robert F. Barkley Dental Study Club.

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The Life and Legacy of Napoleon Hill Might Just Inspire You, Too 

May 3, 2024 Bill Davis

By Bill Davis, DDS 

When Dr. L. D. Pankey was developing his Philosophy, he studied with many early American business authors and teachers. One such person was Napoleon Hill (1883 -1970). Hill was considered one of the earliest producers of the modern genre of personal success literature.  

Hill’s Early Life 

He was born in a one-room cabin near the town of Pound in the Appalachian area of Southwest Virginia. Unfortunately, his mother died when he was 9 years old. At the age of 13 he began his writing career as a “mountain reporter” for his father’s local newspaper. Later, he moved to Pittsburgh to work for a big city newspaper as a reporter. 

A Career-Making Assignment 

In 1908, the editor of the newspaper assigned Napoleon, who was the papers newest and youngest reporter, the job of interviewing the industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. At the time Mr. Carnegie, known for his steel business, was among the most powerful men in the world. Napoleon was warned that Mr. Carnegie did not do interviews. Undaunted, Hill went to Andrew Carnegie’s office and told the receptionist he was a reporter and asked to speak to Mr. Carnegie. When he was turned down for the interview and told again that Mr. Carnegie did not like to do interviews, Napoleon didn’t give up. He came back daily and sat in the reception area. 

Persistence Paid Off 

During the second week of going in and out of his office, Andrew Carnegie asked, “Who is that young man waiting in the reception room.” Carnegie was told it was a newspaper reporter waiting to see him. That evening, at the end of the day, Mr. Carnegie went out to the reception room to see if the young newspaper reporter, who had been waiting quietly for over a week to see him, was still there. 

After they introduced themselves, Napoleon told Carnegie he had been sent by his editor to get a story. Napoleon told Mr. Carnegie he hoped to interview him and other wealthy people to discover a simple formula for success. Carnegie was so impressed that he took Napoleon to dinner to continue their conversation. 

This was the beginning of a great friendship, and over the next year they met regularly to develop the formula, as Carnegie also wanted to know the formula. Carnegie presented Napoleon with a letter of introduction to Henry Ford. Ford, after his series of interviews, introduced Hill to Alexander Graham Bell, Elmer R. Gates, Thomas Edison, John D. Rockefeller, and others. 

Hill’s Bestselling Book 

In 1937, Napoleon Hill published a bestselling book, THINK AND GROW RICH, which emphasized a positive attitude and having good communication skills. After reading the book, Dr. L. D. Pankey was very impressed by Hill’s statement: Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” Conceiving and believing are just the first steps to achieving your goals. According to Hill, you must take serious action. 

Every innovation, every invention, and every work of art begins with an idea. Long before the Wright brothers ever flew, Leonardo Da Vinci had sketched and designed an aircraft. Da Vinci conceived of mechanized flight, but the Wright brothers believed it was possible, they acted on that belief, and thus achieved flight.  

Hill’s Lasting Impact on Dentistry 

In 1929, L. D. Pankey had the idea that teeth could and should be saved, although at first, he didn’t know how. His belief was strong enough to motivate him to do some research, study what was known at that time, and do the necessary experimentation to make his idea a reality. One of the people he was most inspired by was Napoleon Hill. His model of ambition and teachings about how others achieved innovations spurred L. D. on. Belief in himself and his idea helped L. D. persist despite some uncertainty, blind alleys, and many other frustrations. 

The ambition and growing ability to save teeth was arguably the biggest change ever to occur in dentistry. From this concept, innumerable innovations have been born and are accelerating today. 

Where Would You Like to Go? 

There is an old Chinese saying, “If you do not know where you are going, you are likely to end up somewhere.”  

Too many people end up “somewhere” because they have not clearly defined where they want to go. The first step in moving toward greater satisfaction is to set specific goals. Vague goals such as, “I’d like to be a better dentist,” “I’d like to be happier,” or “I’d like to make more money,” are common.  

Napolean Hill would say that more specificity will take you somewhere purposeful. Perhaps, “I would like to learn about implant placement,” “I want to have more fun with my children,” or “I want to earn 15% more this a year.” Then, be evermore specific and set definite time frames so you can measure your progress. For example:  

  • “I would like to begin training in implant placement this coming September and be placing implants successfully in June. Tomorrow, I will begin by investigating continuing education programs in the science of implants.” 
  • “I would like to have more fun with my children. At dinner tonight, I will ask my children about ideas they think would be fun activities, and we will start by doing one of the activities each week.”  
  • “I would like to increase my income by 15% this year. I will meet with my accountant and a dental practice coach this month to look at ways to increase my profitability. I will also do some more reading in practice management.” 

Believe in Your Goals and Your Ability to Achieve Them 

Once you have conceived your ideas, you must believe it is possible to achieve them. Without the power of belief, you will not take your ideas seriously; nor are you likely to weather the many setbacks and frustrations that will probably come along with you on your journey. 

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Bill Davis

William J. Davis DDS, MS is practicing dentist and a Professor at the University of Toledo in the College Of Medicine. He has been directing a hospital based General Practice Residency for past 40 years. Formal education at Marquette, Sloan Kettering Michigan, the Pankey Institute and Northwestern. In 1987 he co-authored a book with Dr. L.D. Pankey, “A Philosophy of the Practice of Dentistry”. Bill has been married to his wife, Pamela, for 50 years. They have three adult sons and four grandchildren. When not practicing dentistry he teaches flying.

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Life-Long Learning Part 4: Challenge What You Know 

March 29, 2024 Gary DeWood, DDS

Gary M. DeWood, DDS, MS 

Challenging what you think you know will pique your curiosity and lead to pursuing more information and interactions from which you learn. Challenging what you think you know leads to learning with the benefits of brain development, longer life, emotional wellbeing, and inspiration to share yourself in new ways with others. Simply said, challenging what you know prompts intentional learning to BE more expansive, to grow. 

My hope is that after reading this blog series, you will take time to reflect on the following statements from three of the many people who have influenced me over the years. 

Quotes from Daniel J. Boorstin, historian and Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Americans: 

Education is learning what you didn’t even know you didn’t know. 

The single largest obstacle to discovery is NOT ignorance; it is the illusion of knowledge. 

Quote from Herbert E. Blumenthal, DDS: 

Don’t believe everything you think. 

Quotes from William J. Davis, DDS, co-author with L. D. Pankey of A Philosophy of the Practice of Dentistry: 

Learning best takes place when we “live” a philosophy, meaning living in a state of inquiry based on our values, knowledge, and goals. 

When the late Dr. L.D. Pankey decided to devote his life to saving teeth, he was forced to ask himself, “How can I help people keep all of their teeth all of their lives?” In 1925 L.D. didn’t know the answer or even if there was an answer. When he decided to never extract another good tooth, he was taking an enormous professional and economic risk. He was able to uncover and develop many principles that have proven instrumental in our understanding of restorative dentistry and patient communication.  

Philosophy, in its most valuable form, is more concerned with the right questions than the right answers. 

Now that I am back actively within the Pankey community of learning and inspiration, I have four wishes for you: 

  • May you come face-to-face daily with something that you don’t even know you don’t know.  
  • May you not be blinded by what you think you do know when it shows up and fail to see it because you believe everything you think.  
  • May you ask questions and intentionally seek answers. 
  • May intentional leisure learning be not just what you do but how you live. 

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Life-Long Learning Part 3: Leisure Learning Is Intentional Learning 

March 27, 2024 Gary DeWood, DDS

Gary M. DeWood, DDS, MS 

We might define leisure learning as “Anything that is taught in an organized formal or informal plan of education to assist an adult in learning something about his or her occupation, occupational opportunities, personal happiness, or social enhancement and into which that adult engages him or herself for the purpose of learning about it.”  

I’d like to rename it “Intentional Learning” for the purpose of our discussion. My best guess is that your intent in coming to The Pankey Institute is to learn something about dentistry that will help you do what you do better. The incentive for that goal, being better, is why you come. You are choosing to use leisure time to learn dental stuff with intention. 

Any information you perceive as other than about being “better at clinical dentistry” you might be less interested in retaining and consequently likely to forget quickly. You will not really learn the stuff for which you have limited curiosity. Interestingly, that stuff that is not about the “dentistry” is the most important part of what The Pankey Institute sends you home with. At least I and countless others have found this to be true. 

Intentional learning is essential if you want to live a longer life. 

In the absence of Intentional Learning, defined as “actively seeking out new information that you WANT to integrate into your experience and understanding of the world,” certain parts of your brain will shrink. Your capacity for learning and your critical thinking/problem-solving skills will diminish. A reduction in neurons and neurotransmitters will affect your memory, your concentration, your mood, and your physical movement. Blood flow to parts of the brain can even be reduced–use it or lose it is a common thread in nature.  

So, Intentional Learning is GOOD for your brain and necessary if you wish to thrive. Synapses continue to form and re-form if you are acquiring new information, experiences, and knowledge with intent. Intentional Learning reduces stress levels. Stress reduction not only helps us perform better in our professional life, but our personal lives as well. 

Intentional learning opens social possibilities. 

Homo Sapiens are social creatures, we crave interaction, in fact we require it. Intentional learning encourages us to take risks, adjust, and adapt as we go. It sparks social engagement which leads to happiness in so many aspects of our lives. It enhances motivation, creativity, and innovation. It provides an opportunity to open our minds, challenge ourselves, and appreciate new opportunities. 

Intentional Learning fuels even more learning
as it stimulates curiosity, renews our purpose,
and moves us toward problem solving actions.
It has the potential to keep us young. 

My mother’s desire for Intentional Leisure Learning, never left her; she was and is a voracious reader, and to this day at the age of 90, she loves nothing more than sharing something she has read recently and is busy integrating into her view of the world and how it works. Her beliefs are open to what she experiences in her life, to what she learns.  

The day will come, sooner than I wish, when “dental” learning will not be as applicable to my daily life as it is today. I will still want to be part of a dental study club, still challenge what I think I know, and offer whatever wisdom I’ve been able to store to the conversation.  

Once found, intentional lifelong learning is something one does not easily lose the desire for. 

I will never forget Dr. Parker Mahan’s words, “I know I too can never live long enough.” Some might hear those words as limiting. I hear them as liberating. The well of knowledge will never be dry. It is and will remain an infinite source of things that I can still learn. 

I am so grateful to be back home at The Pankey Institute after spending my intentional learning (and teaching) time for the past fifteen years in a place that has made a choice to focus on “dental” learning. The behavioral aspects of dentistry and developing understanding of oneself and others have always had equal focus at Pankey. And since that “other stuff” is not something that can ever be checked off as “learned” no matter how many years I have left to be here, my intentional learning can and will always be young and new. It’s why The Pankey Institute is not a place you DO, it’s a place you learn to BE. 

The Institute is a place where learning never stops because, when you learn to BE, you have learned to act. Being is an ongoing and continuous process. It’s something that is lived. It is community. It is home. It is still The One Place.  

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Gary DeWood, DDS

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Lifelong Learning Part 2: We’re All Lifelong Learners 

March 25, 2024 Gary DeWood, DDS

Gary M. DeWood, DDS, MS 

Adults have a wealth of experience to draw on and they like to do so as part of their learning. Adults are not used to taking direction in education; they choose what they want to learn. When my friend (in Part 1 of this series) lost his active interest in seeking out dental education, he had made a choice to learn other things he hoped to know.  

One of my heroes, Doctor Parker Mahan, told me once that one of the harshest lessons of mortality for him was the realization that he could never live long enough to learn everything he wanted to know. 

Adults need to create specific opportunities to self-reflect and internalize what they are learning in order to integrate it with what they already know. Adults have preconceived notions about education, learning style, and subject matter that interfere with their learning. Adults are often afraid to fail so they frequently guard their learning process by telling themselves why what they are hearing is wrong. 

Where children are sponges when it comes to learning, as adults our brains adapt to experiences and interactions that occur “on purpose.” We acknowledge a reason to remember that experience…to have that new knowledge. 

Here’s an example. 

Our eldest child, Patricia, entered a world in which those charged with her immediate care had barely learned to care for themselves–a world to which she adapted very quickly. In no time she had taken control of the lives of two sentient beings who proudly professed their independence and right to make decisions about their own lives but nonetheless jumped through the hoops of her creation as soon as they were offered. 

After the grandmothers had departed and Cheryl and I were now totally responsible for this baby FOR REAL, her training of us began in earnest. Turns out Cheryl and I CAN be taught, proven by our immediate response to Patricia’s guidance in managing her universe. A visit by Uncle Toby and Aunt Patsy presented us with an opportunity to learn from another source. 

Following a hearty meal, a very sleepy baby was laid in her crib for some sleep. Almost immediately upon our return to the living room Patricia realized she was no longer being held, and realized she was no longer where the “party” was happening. Being WITH the party is very high on Patricia’s list. When she “called out” in response to that situation, two very well-trained parents immediately stood to head for the emergency that was happening for the helpless baby. Uncle Toby looked at us as we simultaneously rose and said, “What are you thinking?” 

That might sound like a question, but it was really a statement that meant “stop.” So, when Uncle Toby asked his “question,” Cheryl and I stopped as we were instructed. Uncle Toby then asked, “What are you teaching that baby if you go in there and pick her up every time she cries?” 

As brand-new, first-time parents, this thought was alien to us. Being so well trained, we thought our only mission in life was to keep the baby from crying. With some angst in our stomachs that tightened each time Patricia’s wailing reached a new crescendo, we sat in the living room and pretended to ignore what we were hearing.  

Suffice it to say that when our second child Dale came along, he learned, and reasonably quickly, that we were not necessarily coming every time he rang the bell.  

Every day, we hear and see a lot of information that never makes the transition to “learning” because it does not produce change.
Change can only occur for adults when we enter into an agreement with ourselves that there is something we want to learn in what is being said or shown to us. We ACT on it. 

The truth is EVERY interaction we have with any other person or situation is a potential learning experience if we reflect upon it and internalize its meaning for us and act on it. It’s impossible not to learn. We do it all the time. Lifelong learning is thus a forgone conclusion.  

One of the greatest joys in dental practice is creating learning moments for patients by providing intentional opportunities for them to experience their oral health and interact with us in a way that provokes their curiosity, internal reflection, and acknowledgement of needs. Just as we are lifelong learners, we can trust that they are lifelong learners, too. 

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DATE: May 23 2024 @ 8:00 pm - May 23 2024 @ 9:00 pm

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Course Description: Review the digital workflow as part of the comprehensive exam and health screening during periodic exams. We will discuss the benefits of clear aligner therapy prior to restorative care.  Also the…

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Gary DeWood, DDS

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The Never-Ending Patient Interview

October 11, 2023 Paul Henny DDS

In the year 1958, Dr. L. D. Pankey asked one of his most devout students to join him and teach the Pankey philosophy about dentistry and life to dentists around the world. And that’s precisely what they did. F. Harold Wirth, DDS, was one of the most dynamic speakers in all of dentistry. He rivaled Drs. L. D. Pankey and Bob Barkley in his ability to engage an audience and make his points clear using real (often funny) stories from his practice and life experiences.

Harold understood people on a very deep level—physically and emotionally. For this, he gave Dr. Pankey most of the credit. He had a very successful restorative practice in downtown New Orleans prior to meeting Dr. Pankey, but always felt that something was missing. L.D. Pankey showed him what that was, which turned Harold Wirth into a missionary for whole-person dentistry from that point forward:

“Give the case presentation to the person who makes the decisions,” Dr. Wirth said. “If I ever get to the point where I’m explaining what I’d like to do…If I’m not already about 90% into gaining their agreement, then I have messed up! Because I should have already won them over with the interview, the aura of my office, the literature that I’ve given them to read, and whatever else I’ve done before that time.”

Dr. Wirth said, “The case is constantly being presented: Every time the patient comes in, you’re doing a presentation. As a matter of fact, I think the interview is forever ongoing. It might only be one word, but every time the patient comes into your office, you should be interviewing them. Are you comfortable? Does your bite feel good? Are your teeth sensitive?”

These are questions that have to do with how the person FEELS. A case history is exploring what happened, but an interview is about how they feel! You need to understand the difference! How do you feel about your restorations? Are you comfortable? Are you satisfied with the appearance of your smile? Can you chew everything you want to chew?

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Paul Henny DDS

Dr. Paul Henny maintains an esthetically-focused restorative practice in Roanoke, Virginia. Additionally, he has been a national speaker in dentistry, a visiting faculty member of the Pankey Institute, and visiting lecturer at the Jefferson College or Health Sciences. Dr. Henny has been a member of the Roanoke Valley Dental Society, The Academy of General Dentistry, The American College of Oral Implantology, The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, and is a Fellow of the International Congress of Oral Implantology. He is Past President and co-founder of the Robert F. Barkley Dental Study Club.

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A Pankey Philosophy Overview 

March 20, 2023 Bill Davis

Philosophy has to do with the relationship between belief and action. In the end philosophy is what gives meaning and purpose to our lives. As dentists who are consciously aware of our own beliefs and what holds meaning to us, our daily work and our routine are not merely unrelated actions and episodes, but integral parts of our personal lives.

There is an important distinction to be made between having a philosophy and living a philosophy. “Having” a philosophy implies having an idea or set of ideas, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that those ideas are being acted on. Learning can best take place when we are “living” a philosophy—that is, living in a state of inquiry—based on our personal values, our knowledge of ourselves, and our individual goals.

Questions lead to answers.

According to Jim Dyce, a British dentist/philosopher and good friend of L.D. Pankey, “Philosophy can do no more than initiate questions.” When Dr. Pankey decided to devote his life to saving teeth, he was forced to ask himself a difficult question, “How can I help people keep all of their teeth for a lifetime?” In 1925 L.D. didn’t know the answer. Out of that question he was able to uncover and develop many principles which have proven instrumental in the understanding of comprehensive restorative dentistry and patient education. Therefore, Philosophy, in its most valuable form, is more about asking right questions than with right answers.

How useful the Pankey Philosophy will be to you depends on how willing you are to put yourself in the questions. In the process of moving toward the answers to your questions will help you clarify your goals and ways to accomplish them. Questions can open the floodgates to new insights and information for you.

How do you define and measure success?

The Pankey Philosophy itself seems simple enough at first glance. Each one of us must decide for ourselves what and how to measure our success. Once we have conceived an idea of success, we must believe in it, and then work out ways to achieve it. Achieving the greatest success in dentistry–both gratitude from our patients and financial and spiritual reward, requires a commitment to always give the best you can. This involves knowing yourself, knowing your patients, knowing you work, and applying your knowledge conscientiously.

Dentists can fall into a rut of boredom and frustration.

This sobering statistic may have been attributed to two main factors related to the practice of dentistry. First, dental work is usually confined to a small office, where dentists go day after day, week after week. Second, once dentists become good at what they are doing, their work becomes very much the same. The result could be developing a feeling of not being appreciated by their patients and staff. Or maybe feeling being trapped in their small office. They may think they are not achieving much in the way of mental stimulation, and start wondering to themselves “Is this all there is to dentistry?”

Now, this is not to say that all or even most dentists live lives of “quiet desperation.” Yet most dentists have felt they are in a rut at one time or another, at which point it becomes increasingly difficult to see the real rewards in this great profession of dentistry. Reviewing your questions again can pull you out of the rut.

Dentists can climb out of the rut through increased service to mankind.

In 1947 L.D. began teaching the Philosophy of the Practice of Dentistry which he had been developing since 1932. His purpose was to help dentists confront and move past feelings of frustration and boredom. L.D. wanted to move dentists toward higher levels of excellence in their technical work, improve their communication skills with their patients, and achieving greater satisfaction in their lives through increased service to humankind.

Are your goals clear and well-defined? Are you willing to pay the price to achieve them?

L.D recommended dentist look more closely and objectively at themselves and their individual situation. He would suggest asking his class to really think about their goals. He would ask them,” Are your goals clear and well-defined? Can you measure your goals so you can measure your success? Do your goals belong to you or are they someone else’s goals? Are you willing to pay the necessary price to achieve them? Are your goals and objectives in line with your circumstances and temperament?” Satisfaction is achieved not only in reaching your goals, but also by understanding the progress you are making during your journey as you move slowly and steadily toward them.

As poet and musician Bob Dylan wrote, “He who is not busy being born is busy dying.”


Understanding the Pankey Philosophy can help you transform your experience of practicing dentistry, increase predictability, profitability and fulfillment. The Essentials Series is the path we urge you to take. Essentials 1: Aesthetic and Functional Treatment Planning is where your journey begins.  Following a system of risk assessment, patient ownership and risk management creates technical excellence and predictability.

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Dentist Tuition: $ 2795

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Bill Davis

William J. Davis DDS, MS is practicing dentist and a Professor at the University of Toledo in the College Of Medicine. He has been directing a hospital based General Practice Residency for past 40 years. Formal education at Marquette, Sloan Kettering Michigan, the Pankey Institute and Northwestern. In 1987 he co-authored a book with Dr. L.D. Pankey, “A Philosophy of the Practice of Dentistry”. Bill has been married to his wife, Pamela, for 50 years. They have three adult sons and four grandchildren. When not practicing dentistry he teaches flying.

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The Story of Dr. Daniel Hally-Smith Part 1 — On the Wings of Generosity 

October 14, 2022 Bill Davis

This is part of a two-part story about L. D. Pankey’s trip to the International Dental Congress in Paris in 1931.

Thanks to the generosity of one of his appreciative patients, Mrs. Blanchard, L. D. was able to go to the International Dental Congress. She had expressed the desire for him to meet with the outstanding dentists of the world, and L. D. was determined to make the most of the trip.

Before he left, another one of his patients, who was a retired dentist from Chicago by the name of Frank Davis, suggested L. D. meet with his old friend Dr. Daniel Hally-Smith who practiced dentistry in Paris.

Before L. D. Left for Europe, Davis provided him with a letter of introduction. Hally-Smith had worked for Frank Davis as his lab clean-up boy when Hally-Smith was going through dental school at Northwestern University. It was following graduation in 1901 that Hally-Smith moved to Paris.

Davis said, “Hally-Smith has the most outstanding dental practice in the world and when you meet him, you will find he’s a real character.” As a senior dental student, Hally-Smith wore a bowler hat, spats, and carried a cane – both when he went to dental school and to work as a laboratory assistant.

On his third day in Paris, L. D. found Dr. Hally-Smith’s office on the top floor of a five-story building. On the street level was the famous Van Cleef and Arpel’s Jewelry Store, a location considered by many to be the best in Paris. When he got off the elevator on the fifth floor, he found himself in a sterile-looking, bright white hallway with high ceilings, no signage, and tall twelve-foot white doors. As he made his way down the hall, he found one door with a small gold plaque engraved with D. H-S. He guessed it was the correct door for Daniel Hally-Smith.

The door was locked. From the ceiling hung a heavy rope with a tassel on it. So, L.D. pulled the tassel. When the door opened, he found standing in front of him, a proper-looking gentleman wearing cut-away coat and striped trousers, holding a silver platter. The gentleman said something to L. D. in French. L. D. said, “I’m looking for Dr. Daniel Hally-Smith.” Then, in perfect English, the gentleman asked L. D. for his card and “Do you have an appointment?” L. D. did not have an appointment or a card, but he did have the letter of introduction from Frank Davis in an envelope with Dr. Halley-Smith’s address written on it. He placed envelope on the tray. The butler invited him in and took me down a hallway lined with fine tapestries. They arrived at a large reception room with a fireplace and original oil paintings on the walls. This was surely the fanciest dental office L.D. had ever seen.

In a short while, Dr. Hally-Smith came in. He took L. D.’s hand and said, “Glad to see you.” Come right in, Dr. Pankey.” That is when L.D. realized that Frank Davis must have written to Hally-Smith to tell him he was going to have a young dentist-friend visit him from Florida.

Hally-Smith was just as gracious as he could be. “We don’t see too many Americans over here these days,” he said. During their first meeting, L. D. learned that Hally-Smith was going to be busy because he was the general chairman of the entire International Dental Congress. L.D. knew right away that Dr. Davis had done him a great favor in sending him to meet Daniel Hally-Smith.

In Part 2, you will read that L. D. soon received Hally-Smith’s best advice and put that advice immediately into practice when he arrived back home.

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Bill Davis

William J. Davis DDS, MS is practicing dentist and a Professor at the University of Toledo in the College Of Medicine. He has been directing a hospital based General Practice Residency for past 40 years. Formal education at Marquette, Sloan Kettering Michigan, the Pankey Institute and Northwestern. In 1987 he co-authored a book with Dr. L.D. Pankey, “A Philosophy of the Practice of Dentistry”. Bill has been married to his wife, Pamela, for 50 years. They have three adult sons and four grandchildren. When not practicing dentistry he teaches flying.

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An Abridged Biography of L.D. Pankey

April 12, 2021 Deborah Bush, MA

In 1999, I participated in the writing of a 500-word bio of Dr. Lindsey Dewey Pankey, Sr. for his posthumous induction in the Pierre Fauchard Academy International Hall of Fame. Although he was born over a century ago, his legacy has impacted many thousands of dentists and millions of patients.

Sharing this abridged bio with you 20 years later means that the asterisked number of dental professionals instructed by The Pankey Institute has greatly grown. Nevertheless, I offer this to you in its original words to make his abridged biography more widely known.

From the Pierre Fauchard Academy International Hall of Fame of Dentistry, 1999

Dr. L.D. Pankey, Sr. Was born on July 31, 1901. He received his Doctorate in Dental Surgery degree from the College of Dentistry at the University of Louisville, practiced in New Castle, Kentucky for one year, then relocated to Coral Gables, Florida, where he practiced dentistry until 1969. In 1932, he became a member of the Florida State Board of Dental Examiners and served 12 years, including his term as secretary and chairman. Concurrently, he was a member of the American Association of Dental Examiners, serving as Vice President in 1942 and President in 1943.

Throughout his professional career, Dr. Pankey was an essayist, lecturer, and student.

Having made presentations before countless local, state, national and international dental groups, he was best known for his seminars on “A Philosophy of the Practice of Dentistry.” In 1956, his Philosophy lectures were organized into three-day seminars. Subsequently, a curriculum was developed whereby practicing dentists would attend a series of once-a-year classes over a three-year period. In these classes, Dr. Pankey helped dentists find fulfillment through building relationships with patients about the benefits of optimal dental care. He helped his colleagues seek a balanced life. And he inspired them to do their personal best for every patient.

Dr. Pankey also developed a procedure for occlusal rehabilitation. In collaboration with Drs. Arvin W. Mann of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and Clyde H. Schuyler of New York city, he developed a teaching manual. In 1959, they began giving seminars, attracting dentists from throughout the United States and many other nations. Their occlusal rehabilitation procedures became known as the Pankey-Mann-Schuyler Technique (PMS). He was acknowledged by the dental profession for this work by being elected President of the American Prosthodontic Society.

Over 7,000 dentists attended the occlusal rehabilitation and philosophy classes taught by Dr. Pankey. The dentists who attended these classes formed the nucleus of support for establishing The L. D. Pankey Foundation, Inc., and creating “The L. D. Pankey Institute.” The Pankey Institute was the first advanced dental education organization of its kind in the world. It opened the doors to its first class in Miami, Florida in 1972. The curriculum was organized into what has become known as “The Continuum,” a series of one-week classes taken at a pace that is convenient and pertinent to the growth of the participant.

Well beyond simply honoring its namesake and continuing his teaching, The L. D. Pankey Dental Foundation, established a higher mission for dentistry “to bridge the gap between what is known and what is practiced.” Since 1972, The Pankey Institute has instructed over 17,000* dental professionals from many nations of the world, affecting the dental outcomes and well-being of millions of patients. Dr. L.D. Pankey, Sr. was deeply committed to the Institute’s success, participated in its development, and lectured at the Institute up until the time of his death in March of 1989.

Dentistry, our beloved profession, is better because of the man we recommend for induction. The Academy is privileged and honored to induct Dr. Lindsey Dewey Pankey, Sr., into the PFA International Hall of Fame of Dentistry.

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Deborah Bush, MA

Deb Bush is a freelance writer specializing in dentistry and a subject matter expert on the behavioral and technological changes occurring in dentistry. Before becoming a dental-focused freelance writer and analyst, she served as the Communications Manager for The Pankey Institute, the Communications Director and a grant writer for the national Preeclampsia Foundation, and the Content Manager for Patient Prism. She has co-authored and ghost-written books for dental authorities, and she currently writes for multiple dental brands which keeps her thumb on the pulse of trends in the industry.

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