Omer-isms and the Passing of Dr. Omer K. Reed

Michael W. Davis, DDS


Dr. Omer K. Reed recently passed away. A memorial and celebration of his life is scheduled for February 29, 2020, in Scottsdale, Arizona. However, one expects an outpouring of tributes from the dental community prior to that date.

Reed largely came to the attention of the dental profession—some might say he came to the angst of the dental profession—initially with his report and demonstrations of the “90 Second Crown Prep.” He often was unfairly branded a dangerous and radical dentist. His protocol was surreptitiously passed around my student dental clinic in 1980, and the student doing so was threatened with expulsion.

Reed also was known for his affiliation with the Las Vegas Institute and generosity in assisting the less fortunate, including the dental clinic he opened in Tanzania. He received the 1999 Achievement Award from the Alpha Omega Dental Fraternity for his contributions to the profession as well. 

A 2008 interview in The Journal of Cosmetic Dentistry demonstrated how most of his insightful predictions—such as the single-chair schedule, the “care pair” team, the front desk-less office, and advanced interactive diagnostic technologies—have since come to pass (see downloadable PDF above).

Reed was renowned for his one-line sayings as well, which got to the heart of any subject with wit and wisdom. His protégées were kind enough to save a collection. These insightful sayings were beloved by many doctors and affectionately known as “Omer-isms,” including: 

  • If I had a smile like that, I’d quit dentistry and go into show business! 
  • If you’re not paid what you’re worth, you become worth what you’re paid.
  • You can do anything you want to do. You just can’t do everything.
  • If it’s been done, it’s probably possible.
  • Worry is interest you pay on a debt you don’t owe.
  • Seek first to understand before being understood.
  • None of us is as smart as all of us.
  • Work smarter, not harder.
  • You only have to floss the ones you want to keep.
  • People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
  • Happiness is a choice.

We’d like to thank Dr. John Highsmith of Clyde, North Carolina, and Dr. Rick Coker of Tyler, Texas, for saving these wonderful Omer-isms. 

The memorial and celebration of life is scheduled for 11 am on Saturday, February 29 at 11 am at La Casa de Cristo Lutheran Church in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Dr. Davis practices general dentistry in Santa Fe, NM. He assists as an expert witness in dental fraud and malpractice legal cases. He currently chairs the Santa Fe District Dental Society Peer-Review Committee and serves as a state dental association member to its house of delegates. He extensively writes and lectures on related matters. He may be reached at or

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Interview with Dr. Reed