I would think one of the most important questions you could ask your dentist, or a dentist you are considering going to, would be what kind of dentist they are.
What do I mean by that?
Several times in the course of my career there have been popular articles in national magazines concerning dentists and the differences between them. The one that stands out to me the most was the cover article in Readers Digest, Is Your Dentist Ripping You Off?
Basically, they’ve done pieces exposing the dental profession of lack of integrity based on the fact of wide ranging treatment plans on the same patients. The RD one in particular was shoddy-journalism at it’s worst.
This stems initially from the fact that dentistry, and treatment planning in particular, is subjective art. Some of it is straightforward, but much of it is an art. There often are several ways to treat an individual tooth and usually many ways to approach a more complex case.
Some dentists may have great success treating a certain condition one way and others might have great success with another, so they would each, understandably, approach treatment differently.
So maybe the better question is, ‘What kind of an artist are you looking for?’
One of the first differences is whether the dentist is minimally-invasive or definitive. They’re both great qualities, it’s not asking them if they are good or bad.
Some dentists are very thorough and definitive with their treatment planning and treatment, itself. They will leave little to chance, and could be considered conservative by that interpretation of the word. They will present the most dentistry and ultimately cost the most for the entire treatment.
Others are more conservative in the sense that they will be willing to recommend addressing the basic restorative and periodontal treatments in the least invasive way.
Whereas, it’s hard to knock one for being thorough there are some drawbacks.
I go to seminars that tell the attendees that they should ONLY present ideal treatment to their patients. Only the dentistry they would have done on themselves or their family members.
One of the problems with this is that it’s really unrealistic for me, for example. I’ve never had to pay a dental bill in my life. That’s not normal!!
Not only do they profess only presenting treatment with all the bells and whistles (one lecturers said that his average new patient spends $27,000. in the first year!!!), but then they back it up with badgering the patient with things like, “‘No’ doesn’t mean ‘No!’ until you’ve heard it 15 times!”
This can possibly lead to overtreatment, overbearing sales and not really letting the patient chose the dentistry that is right for them.
On the other hand it is hard to knock one for wanting to do minimally invasive treatment; however, it needs to be the right situation. In doing this there is likely more maintenance, repair and replacement of restorations required through the years.
Also, it is imperative that patients return for their recall visits regularly so that small problems, with small solutions are found early enough to warrant minimally invasive treatment.
I have some patients that travel a lot and don’t have the luxury of having problems.
So what’s the right answer?
Good question! Answer it.
That’s right, you answer it. You let them know what you’d like to have done.
You need to make sure that you are going to an office that spends the time and has the training to get to know what your needs are and then can present the options. The emphasis here is on the pleural of ‘options’ along with the advantages and drawbacks of each choice. Even here one office can present one option in a more favorable light than others or not present some very viable options at all. Be aware of getting strong-armed into one option or, concerned with what your insurance covers. Your insurance is a contract that has nothing to do with what is best for you.
Several times I’ve heard people tell me that they got 2 crowns done on teeth and saved lots of money since they got 2 done at once. Well, that’s great IF you really NEED to get both of them done.
You should make sure that you are co-diagnosing your oral health. In order to do this your dentist must spend the time getting to know your situation well, your current conditions and all of the factors that can determine your health in the future and recommend the preventative precautions to reduce your liabilities. Once you both understand your present condition there should be a dialog of your OPTIONSSSSSS!
Ask them if the tend to be more aggressive, thorough with their treatment planning or more minimally invasive and make sure you have the right fit.
I have some patients that travel a lot and don’t have the luxury of having problems. We do definitive, comprehensive treatment on them leaving no loose ends.
I have many patients that have flexibility in their lives and would gladly gamble with a $250 deep filling and the possibility of a toothache to hopefully avoid a $2,000 root canal and crown.
Without the conversation these solutions wouldn’t exist and the patients wouldn’t be getting exactly what they want and deserve.
Feel free to come in and have that conversation.
If you are near Bryn Mawr and are looking for the right relationship with your dentist it all starts with a phone call: 610-525-5497 and tell Debbie you want what you deserve from your dentist.