Let’s use this hypothetical situation: You have not been to a dentist in a while (pick a time frame), you are well aware you need some dental work, you were given the recommendation of a dentist by a friend…..and, you decide to visit that dentist and four other dentists to compare and make a decision who is the best fit for you. (I realize that most people don’t want to and/or don’t have the time to visit five dentists….but play along).
You already have an idea of what you are looking for. It might be the dentist who says you need the least. It might be the dentist who is the cheapest. It might be the dentist who is closest to where you live. It might be the dentist who gives you the most options, or maybe the least. It might be the dentist who listens to you the best. Be prepared, because you are likely to hear a few different styles/opinions visiting five dentists.
Some practices may feel “clinical and efficient”, while others feel somewhat more home spun and laid back. The dentist’s personality and experience are reflected in his or her treatment preferences as well. The fact that different dentists will suggest different plans to treat your condition does not necessarily mean that one plan is better than another. Have an open mind and play an active role in the treatment planning process.
It is important to remember that there are numerous ways to treat the same situation, and it is always important for the dentist to tailor the treatment plan for each patient’s specific circumstances. A major part of those circumstances may be financial, and since different treatment plans can vary a great deal in cost, it is important for the dentist to discuss costs and options for payment.
Think of treatment plans like various models of cars offered by different dealers. All of the models are new, have warranties and will work well out of the lot. The higher end models, however, have some advantages not found in the less expensive models. Some options add years to the life of the car. Some add to the appearance and enjoyment of driving it. Having said that, dentistry is not a commodity. There are many factors that need to be taken into consideration when choosing your provider or the treatment you choose for yourself.
What makes sense for you? What are your objectives? Saving a badly damaged tooth with a root canal and a crown may preserve it for a long time, but what are the circumstances of how the tooth got to that point? If you haven’t been to a dentist in many years and have many other dental needs, does it make sense?
We have so many great dental providers in our area. Think about what you are looking for in a dental care team Read that list in the second paragraph again.
The focus should be on long-term objectives and prevention. If you are a regular dentist-goer and have a dentist you like, you’re all set. If you haven’t been in a while, consider making the decision to change how you look at your dental health. Start with finding a place that fits your particular needs, and make the commitment to make routine preventive dental care part of your life.
Dr. St. Clair maintains a private dental practice in Rowley and Newburyport dedicated to health-centered family dentistry. He has a special interest in treating snoring, sleep apnea and TMJ problems. If there are certain topics you would like to see written about or questions you have, please email them to him at firstname.lastname@example.org