I am a dentist who has been practicing for over 20 years. I have supported organized dentistry by being a part of the ADA and the NC Dental Society my entire career. One of the benefits of organized dentistry is the Open Forum the NCDS maintains for all registered members. It is moderated by an employee of the NCDS and to my knowledge, prior to this year has never censored a scientific discussion.
In August, a dentist wrote in to the open forum, expressing frustration about an employee that was refusing the COVID shot because she had recently recovered from infection. She expressed that she felt her natural immunity was superior to what the shot would provide her. The dentist asked the forum what was the stance of the ADA and the NCDS, to which the moderator responded that vaccinated immunity was superior. She then provided a very poorly conducted study out of Kentucky with 246 subjects, published in USA Today, as her evidence.
I disputed the study based on its sample size, methods for testing reinfections and conflicts of interest. I then provided studies from the Lancet, Nature and MedRx that demonstrated that natural immunity was robust and durable. My post never appeared in our forum. When I inquired as to why the moderator had removed my post, her response was that I was spreading misinformation.
I then took to the forum and in general context, explained what was happening with my post. I posed the question that when in the history of scientific discovery did we ever benefit our patients by censoring discussion of emerging data. I had formal attacks on the forum by other dentists calling me tinfoil hat wearing and some suggested that I should have my credentials stripped. I had several doctors reach out privately and applaud the bravery of standing up to the bullies that exist in our profession.
The impact of the harsh attacks and then the private support made me realize that dentistry is indeed divided. Those of us with critical thinking skills and lovers of scientific discovery, needed to form a parallel group both for the benefit of our careers and to better serve our staff and patients. We are a small group but we hope to grow as we encourage others to be brave because if we don’t make a stand now, there may only be a shadow of our field left for my generation of dentists and who knows what it will be for those just entering the field now.