Calling for a Ton of "Can"

Happy Hall of Fame Week! This is that special time every year where Canton looms large on the proverbial sporting map. Exciting events such as the Up, Up and Away 5K, the Balloon Classic, Style Show, HOF Parade, HOF Game, Enshrinement Ceremony and HOF Concert will bring stars, legends and visitors from near and far to celebrate not only a little game of pigskin, but more importantly, a town I am proud to call HOME. Canton has always been a special place to me because it's where my family landed (see Born in the USA: Our American Dream).  However, it's more than my home and it's much more than the birth place of football.  Canton is what you will see all week, a hardworking, collaborative, proud, hospitable and Midwestern valued people. However, we're a people who are flawed, have failed and have gone through tough times. Yet, those experiences have made us stronger, more resourceful and determined to be the best city and people we can be. This is truly what we celebrate.

Image result for pro football hall of fame
George Sr. and I were fortunate to sit in on a recent speech by HOF President David Baker.  He was one of the most engaging and encouraging individuals I have ever encountered- literally and figuratively larger than life. His talk was energizing, motivational and focused on the power of a collective, positive-thinking people.  We were challenged to look closely at the word Canton.  Like many things, it can be viewed two ways: CANton or CANTon.  Mr. Baker inspired us to live a life of "CAN" over "CANT". This blog will challenge you to do the same!

Dental school teaches you a lot about what's in people's mouths, but it doesn't prepare you for what comes out of them! One day, I want to write a book and call it "Patient's Say the Darndest Things." I have heard every past dental experience, tooth accident, weird habit, excuse and confession imaginable (and today is only Tuesday).  I was never told I would play the roles of a human lie detector, historian, psychologist, counselor, divorce court mediator, parent, grandparent and even priest- empowered to absolve your dental sins. At the end of the day, I sit in front of my computer screen, eyeing my reflection and pondering the day's phrases. With this, I have come to the conclusion it had to have been a dentist who came up with the popular text phrase: smh (shaking my head).

While I like to focus on the humor because it brings levity and reprieve to difficult situations, the majority of my patient encounters involve the words: don't, won't, haven't and can't. One topic: "I don't floss." "I won't floss." "I haven't flossed up until a week before my appointment." "I can't floss because I can't remember or am too tired." In reality, these negative verbs shroud patient's anxieties, guilt, embarrassment, apathy and sometimes naivete. However, most interestingly, these phrases are often followed with an action verb: should, could, will. This type of dental devil and angel, tug of war has always fascinated me.  It permeates into every facet of life, especially our health.  We don't have time to work out, to eat well, to live healthy lifestyles, but we know we should.

 I have found over the years of my career that the only way to motivate a patient is to help them find value. In the end, what we focus our lives on is what we value. Health, especially oral health, takes a lot of time, effort, discipline, sacrifices and a whole lot of boring routines. There is no instant gratification or glory in personal hygiene, except for when you floss out Saturday's popcorn kernel. When it comes to oral health, we have been driven by negative consequences and fear tactics since we were children. Parents, and frankly dentists, are the main culprits. It's no wonder you start flossing as soon as you get your appointment reminder one week out. We are afraid we will be caught "breaking the rules," might be ridiculed, or punished- just like we did when we were twelve.

It's time to break the cycle of can't. It's time for a paradigm shift in dentistry. It's time to focus on positive thinking and choosing to value your oral health and overall wellness. Take the time, make the commitment and see a happier, healthy you. The choice is yours.


Dr. George R. Williams is a general dentist at Williams Family Dental Group in Canton, Ohio. He is a graduate of The Ohio State University College of Dentistry and Canton Mercy Medical Center General Practice Residency.  For questions or suggestions for blog posts, please feel free to contact him at

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