In recent weeks, Mpls/St Paul Magazine has once again mailed surveys to over 2,000 metro area dentists and 1,000 hygienists asking for input to support their latest “Top Dentists” edition. The survey asks you to name up to five dentists to whom you would refer family and friends for various general and specialty dental needs. This particular survey is similar to several that appear around the state of Minnesota.
You may wonder what to do with these types of surveys. The MDA recommends that you consider NOT participating in these surveys, since quality dentistry is not determined by a popularity contest, but is demonstrated daily by thousands of dentists throughout the state who uphold the highest level of professionalism and clinical expertise in their practices.
As chairman of the MDA’s Ethics Committee, I submit to you that these “Top Dentists” lists are divisive to our dental community. Our committee hears more complaints regarding these types of activities than any other. These listings may be misleading to the general public and exclusionary to many who do fine dentistry for their patients each and every day. Regardless of any disclaimers the publication might include, printing the names of the 300 “winners” leaves the public with the impression that the remaining 2,700 Minnesota dentists are somehow inferior.
The Minnesota Board of Dentistry has addressed the “top dentists” designation issue. In their Summer 2002 newsletter, the Board wrote “the position of the Board of Dentistry is that referring to a dentist or a practice as a “Top Dentist Recipient” is inappropriate. The designation is one that clearly infers superiority, and is misleading to the public.” The Board is now more vigorously disciplining those dentists who mislead the public through their advertising.
Please give careful consideration to your decision to participate in these surveys.
Dr. Jack L. Churchill
MDA Constitution, Bylaws & Ethics Committee