Friday, January 26, 2007

The Bell Curve

There it is, the bell curve, a statistical description of distribution. What does it mean to Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics? Well, in school, your grades are distributed on a bell curve. Most students are in the center, a few have the top grades, and a few are at the bottom. You don't want to be at the bottom.

More to the point, if you have a group of patients, they will react differently to the same medication, treatment modality, instructions, or situation. Some, for instance will respond very differently to the same sedative drug (this is critically important to understand when administering medications because the physiologic reaction to those medications can vary from patient to patient). Even with great oral hygiene instructions, some patients will brush their teeth quite well and others will not. Most people pay their bills on time; some do not.

Same input, different responses.

Some "curves" are shaped differently than others. They are skewed to one end or the other.

This is really important in understanding people and situations. You can't always count on one method working the same way every time. Sometimes you have to adapt and be prepared. Whatever training and experience you have, even if your treatment procedures are correct and consistent, there is always an element of uncertainty. When dealing with people it is particularly helpful if you remember the bell curve.

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