When the invitation to speak at this prestigious meeting arrived almost a year ago, I had no idea the magnitude of this honor. Of course most all dentists have dental hygienists, those professionals in charge of keeping your pearly whites completely white. But the 100th anniversary for ANYTHING is a big deal!
Not only that, I never imagined how perfectly the stars would line up to match with the release of Walk of Death, nor the 30th anniversary of my baptism into the world of forensic science. I never would have realized how sinister the event might become when one of the most storied cities in our country, Boston, steeped in American history, would experience such an unconscionable tragedy as the Boston Marathon bombing. What impact would this horrific event have upon the celebratory atmosphere that had been so long in the planning? No one knew.
But now, we know. Not only are Bostonians resilient, but so is the ADHA! Are they ever?! This meeting, which actually goes through Wednesday, June 26, 2013, hummed with the precision of a Swiss watch. First of all, ADHA had a Facebook page created months before June to pump, excite and invigorate not only the hygiene profession, but the invited speakers and guests on the program. I mean it’s not every day, that you can boast a list of celebrities like Hollywood star Ms. Geena Davis (whoa!) or Erin Brockovich (played by Julia Roberts). I felt like a Southern boy in tall cotton! Oh, and get this….for those sports enthusiasts, ADHA even had a special block of tickets reserved for Thursday night at Fenway Park. If you were so inclined, you could see the former World Champion Boston Red Sox play the Detroit Tigers. These folks thought of everything!!
They took their Facebook project to another level. Months before the meeting began, they invited each of their featured clinicians an opportunity to post ‘teaser questions’ daily for an entire week to stimulate thought provoking ideas and discussion on the web about the specific subject matter that each speaker would address. Talk about advanced planning! During the week emphasizing Forensic Dental Identification, I spent more time back and forth with Q&A on Facebook, than I had ever spent on the site ever!
When the big week finally arrived, we were welcomed royally at the Marriott Copley Place, one of the headquarter hotels for ADHA. No one could have known that it would also be the host hotel for the NHL Stanley Cup Finals playoff. As I write this blog, the Blackhawks and the Bruins are knotted at 2-2, causing acid reflux, I am sure with one of my Chicago forensic colleagues, Dr. Jack Kenney, a rabid Blackhawks fan.
Our program title was ‘THE CSI EFFECT: HIGH PROFILE FORENSIC DENTAL ID CASES’. Evidently, there is still excitement for forensic programs, as our meeting room was filled to capacity. Since Walk of Death had just been released on June 1, we were able to promote this 18 month long project as it perfectly coincided with the largest dental meeting the dental hygiene profession has to offer. We shipped 4 extra cases of books, plus all we could cram in with our shoes and socks up to the limits Southwest Airlines would allow. Guess what? We almost came home empty handed! What a thrill!
We covered subjects from the dental ID of James Earl Ray to the tragedies at the World Trade Center and even to the crucial role a practicing dental hygienist played in helping to solve the cold case murder in WOD. I was hoping for a good crowd, but the attendance and audience involvement far exceeded our expectations. Then, to have the honor of personally signing these books for each interested attendee was a real treat as well.
We explained that by checking out our website, the comment boxes shoot an email directly to us, allowing us to further discuss particulars of one subject or another. Before we had gotten back to our hotel room, we had already had two hygienists respond to our presentation via this route. I’ve got some homework cut out for this weekend!
We will be posting several cudos to ADHA on their Facebook page as soon as their annual session ends thanking them for the opportunity to link arms with this vital section of the dental community. Lots of fond memories, tons of new friends, and excitement that will continue to swell for quite some time!