5 Books Every Dentist Should Read

I've been meaning to write this post for a while as it has been some time since I've written a self-improvement post. Here are some of my favourite non-fiction books I think every dentist should read...

1. Your Inner Fish - Neil Shubin

I was recommended this book in my first year of dental school by our anatomy profession when learning about embryology and the pharyngeal arches. He was explaining to us how these correspond to gills and can be traced through evolution and thus recommended Your Inner Fish.

The book is written by a paleontologist and professor of anatomy who traces where our organs originated millions of years ago and the chapter which particularly interested me as a dental student was how our heads were organised like that of a long-extinct jawless fish.

I would recommend this book, not only to revise your embryology, but to learn more about the history of evolution and how it links to us as humans - it's also written very well and doesn't have a textbook vibe unlike many books written by scientists.

2. It's All In Your Head - Suzanne O'Sullivan

I randomly picked this book up on one of my frequent browses in Waterstones. At the time, I had recently experienced some troublesome patients at the walk-in acute dental departments that I was working in who I suspected to have undiagnosed mental health issues. So the title really jumped out at me. 

Since then, I have been to talks within Special Care Dentistry where this book has been recommended. It is written by a neurologist who tells of cases where she has seen and attempted treatment for patients with psychosomatic illnesses i.e. illnesses with no organic cause. When reading some of the cases it did remind of some patients I have seen while working in a special care environment. For example, I have treated a patient with dissociative or non-epileptic seizures or patients with severe Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. 

Again, an easy read which you'll finish quickly. In fact my copy has done the rounds with several of my friends and colleagues it's been that popular! It did change my judgements about conditions like chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia and I feel like I take psychological treatments for conditions like these much more seriously - in fact I have referred patients with facial pain onto clinics where psychotherapy can be an adjunctive treatment as a result of reading this book. 

3. Cure - Jo Marchant

A book I downloaded from Audible this book really caught my eye as a medic, I have been trained in the use of medicine in healing rather than any other means and I have a few patients who have experienced other means of healing e.g. alternative medicine. 

The author discusses how the mind can heal the body from alternative medicine, to meditation to the use of placebos. 

On the surface perhaps many medics brush off the importance of the power of the brain over our body; but how many times have you seen a severely anxious patient yell in pain when you are extracting a tooth when you know the tooth is numb? I recently had a lady who yelled when I wasn't even touching the tooth! You could say she wasn't feeling pain but she was just scared; however, if she could control her anxiety better perhaps with your assistance, she would not have reacted in such a way i.e. used the power of her mind to overcome her anxiety.

4. Bad Pharma - Ben Goldacre

From the writer of the book Bad Science (which is on my to read list), Bad Pharma is a must read for all doctors. I picked this book up in a charity shop and it is quite a thick read but in the age of Evidence Based Medicine and Dentistry, it's really surprising what the author reveals. 

Written by a doctor, he tells of examples of how the Pharmaceutical business sometimes mislead the public as well as the medical industry and how it has lead to harm to patients for example the use of Tamiflu in the Bird Flu outbreak. 

5. When Breath Becomes Air - Paul Kalanithi

I only finished this book in the past month and many other people recommended this to me. Although I bought the book, I ended up listening to the audiobook on the way to work, which proved rather awkward during the last chapter as I was walking down the road with tears in my eyes!

It is a true story written by a neurosurgeon and his journey through his cancer diagnosis. It is excellently written and really tugs at your heart strings. As dentists, if we suffered with conditions that we diagnose frequently, the implications may not be so serious, but the author addresses how we can become insensitive to diagnoses we see all the time; despite the impact they may have on peoples' lives, as well as what we really find important in our lives like family, friends or a career. 

I would just read the last 2 chapters in private, if like me, you can get a little teary!

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? Are there any other books you would also recommend? Let me know in the comments below. 

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