A 90s kid at heart, Dr. Paul Goodman wanted to be a modern-day superhero. Not of the caped crusader variety, but more like George Clooney in ER or Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men. That desire to help people in real life led Dr. Goodman to the next best thing: he enrolled in dental school. Since graduating from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, Dr. Goodman has only used his powers for good.

The Beginning of Dental Nachos

Before there was Dental Nachos, the wildly popular community created by Dr. Goodman, there was the Rising Dentists Study Club. “I started the group so dentists would learn to be nice to each other,” Dr. Goodman said of the club he started back in 2005. “I found that dentists didn’t like each other. We all enter dental school as smart, bright people but it makes us compete. I call it the Dental Student Hunger Games.”

The competition and negativity fostered within dental school then continues after graduation, he believes, unnecessarily pitting dentists against one another. Dr. Goodman knew something had to be done to restore the balance of the dental world. Using his superpower of bringing people together through the power of kindness, Dental Nachos was born. (Why nachos? “Because nachos are made to be shared, and so are good ideas!” proclaims the group’s website.)

Since launching in 2017, Dental Nachos, the “continuing education and professional development company for dental students and practicing dentists,” has quickly amassed more thhan 25,000 Facebook members, over ten sponsors (including, full disclosure, Benco Dental), and a dedicated following of dentists committed to the mission of spreading kindness within dentistry.

When asked who “Dr. Nacho” is, he draws the parallel to Mr. Rogers. “Dr. Nacho is your friendly dentist who brings people together to talk about the tough stuff: how to be kind, how to be a better leader, and also grow your business at the same time.” The company has since evolved beyond a Facebook group and into a wide-ranging resource for dentists that includes webinars and in-person engagements on CE, practice brokering, coaching, and more.

Helping the Individual

Even with his large following, Dr. Goodman still emphasizes the importance of connecting individually. “To help one dentist helps everyone else that dentist encounters,” he explains. “People don’t necessarily consider the mental health of their dentists. When patients tells their dentists how much they hate going into the office, or they’re scared of the appointment, that takes a toll.” By helping the individual doctor, Dr. Goodman’s work then follows the dentist into relationships with family members and office associates. “Depression rates of dentists are something that is not talked about. But behind the mask, dentists are people too.”

Dentists helping patients can help dentists

Improving communication between dentists and patients can help lower patient anxiety before visits and improve the mental health of the dentist. “The easiest way to communicate with patients and employees is through videos,” Dr. Goodman said. “Everyone should get really good at filming themselves and making short, informational videos.” Uploading videos to social media is an effective way to reach a large number of people on one platform and mass communicate practice messages. With all the new changes to dentistry due to COVID-19, watching a video of a dentist walk through new practice protocols might be all patients needs to ease their minds.

Dr. Goodman’s work within the dental community is changing the dynamic of dentistry. Dental Nachos continues to grow and evolve daily, but the mission of the company remains the same: teach dentists how to be nice to one another. Look through the comments on Facebook or feedback on Dr. Nacho himself, and it’s obvious that Dr. Goodman brings out the best in dentists. Maybe someday he’ll have his own medical drama on TV or in the movies, but for now, dentistry seems pretty happy having him all to ourselves.