Well done dentistry that is comfortable lasts a long time, looks good and functions well requires attention to many little details. Safely removing silver/mercury and old fillings, carefully preparing the tooth, removing the cavity, disinfecting the remaining tooth structure, sealing the tooth, and rebuilding it in small increments are just a few. And to do this while keeping the tooth isolated and protected from saliva and contaminants.
A lot of what we do is changing recently done dentistry that is not well done. The stories patients tell us are shocking and makes me disheartened about where dentistry has gone. The focus seems to be to get as many patients “processed” through the practice as possible and sell as many procedures as possible without thorough conversation and using fear, most often unfounded, as a motivation.
The patient will say the dentist only spends a few minutes because he/she is quickly moving from room to room rushing through as many procedures as possible. And the dental assistant is doing a lot of the steps. A trained and certified assistant is legally allowed to do this but I don’t agree. I feel that the patient is paying me so I should be the one doing all the steps. And think about it…why would the dentist want to have the assistant do some of the steps? One main reason…so he/she can be seeing more patients!
We also get patients who want another opinion on the dentistry that was just recommended, which is usually a crown or a root canal and crown. Dentists seem to be quick to recommend that. It can be done quickly and a lot of the steps are delegated to the assistant. Sometimes teeth need crowns but many times a more conservative direct bonded composite restoration will work as well, if not better, and be much kinder to the living pulp of the tooth…if care is taken with every step.
We also do second opinions for patients that are just totally confused and even angry about their dental experience. It usually goes like this – they see the practice for a “$59 special”, the staff, usually the hygienist, does pretty much everything and the dentist will spend all of 2-3 minutes with the patient. They are then shuffled to the “financial coordinator” who presents a confusing and expensive treatment plan and are often pressured into deciding on the spot. Not at our office!
At our practice, you will see me for the entire exam. I first spend the time listening to your story and review everything on your history form (yes, I read it all before we talk!) and then do an exam that includes 35mm photographs. Photos show things that X-rays don’t show and as a result, we don’t need near as many Xrays. Many offices have a policy that all new patients get a full mouth series of 18-24 images. Well…not everybody needs that! That’s why we start with the minimum and if we need to see something more in-depth, we can do that afterward.
After you leave, I study all the info gathered and put together an easy-to-understand report of findings and a treatment plan for suggested treatment, and email it to you. You will have all the time you need to review it and ask any questions for clarification. Only when you feel that you can decide on your dental treatment that is in your best interest and has a rationale that solve a specific problem are you and I ready to proceed. Proceeding with treatment just because the “dentist said so” is not a good reason.
- Dr. Tarantola