There is No Failure, Only Feedback

As 2022 ends, most people generally reflect on what was accomplished, maybe started but not finished, successes or failures, and what is to come in 2023. If 2022 didn’t meet your expectations, 2023 is just around the corner with endless possibilities. However, before we think about next year, let’s reflect on if failures are truly failures.

In a recent podcast by Jim Kwik, the quote “There is no failure only feedback” resonated with me. As an extension of every OralDNA® provider’s team, during my consultation of reports, the question arises from time to time “Why is there more bacteria now after treatment?” Most view a microbiological increase as a failure. However, an investigative approach may reveal otherwise.

To start the investigation, ask, “Has a clinical endpoint been reached?” Clinical endpoint would be reduction or elimination of periodontal inflammation. If yes, then this is a success. The next step would be to determine how to address achieving a microbiological endpoint. If a clinical endpoint has not been reached, then you need to assess what therapy was applied, in addition to the possibility of other causes to the initial disease state such as genetics, other organisms, systemic complications, and behavioral/social concerns.

Investigating the therapy applied would be to question “Was a systemic antibiotic used?” and “Was it taken correctly?” If so, then the feedback would be to consider a different choice of systemic antibiotic in the future and not revisit the one just administered. Investigating the possibility of other causes would include adding tests to the existing specimen (within 21 days of collection) such as Celsus One™ or OraRisk® Candida, as well as asking “How have your blood sugars been lately?” or “When was the last time you saw a medical doctor?” If so, the feedback is we need to address the additional triggers of periodontal inflammation. Also, we need to remember periodontal disease is multifactorial and several causes can be out of our control.

As you reflect on 2022, consider the feedback and set your goals for 2023, remember “There is no failure only feedback.”

Diane Larson RDH, BSDH