It's All about Choices and Communication
If you are not satisfied during the first part of your search-the phone call to the dental office-move on. If you are not satisfied with the second step-your initial dental visit and exam (or "get acquainted" visit)-move on. If you are not happy with the third step-the dentistry itself-it is time to express your feelings in person to the doctor. In other words, take charge. Let your fingers do the research, your mouth do the talking, and, by all means, vote with your feet.
It only makes sense to select your new dental home before any dental emergency arises. Nothing is more stressful than dealing with a toothache and severe pain and trying to locate Dr. Right at the same time. If you presently do not have a dentist, please leap into action.
Here are a few guidelines to follow and questions to ask when you are looking for the right dental professionals for you and/or your family:
Basic training: A basic question-Does the dentist have a dental license? You can ask to see the license if you feel that is necessary. Since it is very difficult for you to judge the technical quality of the dentistry that's being done in your mouth, also inquire about the dentist's continuing education.
Friendly, concerned service: Are the dentist and team members friendly? Are they genuinely interested in you and committed to taking the time it takes to get to know you, to discuss your concerns, your fears, and your dental expectations? If you are a new patient, the dentist should give you a comprehensive exam and design a treatment plan that is appropriate for you based on your exam. Avoid a dental practice where the dentist and staff seem rushed, nervous, and unable to communicate with you.
Good information and listening skills: Does the dentist involve you in discussing your treatment choices and options, rather than just telling you what to do? Does the dentist explain why the treatment is necessary, the benefits and drawbacks of the treatment, the possible risks, other repair or restoration options, and the cost?
When you are making treatment decisions, it's important for you to thoroughly discuss your dental priorities with your dentist. The following three questions are good ways to start a candid discussion:
1). Is this the treatment you would recommend to your family members?
2). How much time will this treatment require?
3). What will happen if I don't go ahead with the treatment?
Dr. Right will be happy to answer all your questions. In addition to the questions noted above, you can also ask:
Does the dentist wear special magnification lenses? This is essential for doing quality work because dental procedures are precise and the dentist is working in a small, dark area on a small object. Most up-to-date dentists will tell you that they would not want to get their dental work done by a dentist who is not using high-tech, high-powered lenses.
Does the dentist or hygienist use a probing tool to check for gum disease when you have your teeth cleaned? Avoid a dental office that does not routinely examine and discuss the health of your gums. If a gum evaluation using a probe has not been done, you need to find another dentist.
Does the dentist or hygienist use standard infection control procedures? While experts agree that the chance of transmitting infectious diseases during routine visits to a dental office is remote, you will feel reassured if you know that the dentist is following OSHA and the ADA infection control guidelines. This means the dental team members wear gloves and masks, and all non-disposable instruments are heat and steam sterilized in an autoclave. Ask a team member what the dental office does for infection control. You can also ask to see the infection control area.
Look at the dentist's and the team members' teeth. If they don't have healthy, good-looking smiles, maybe they haven't practiced good dentistry care themselves. If they aren't practicing good care, how can you be sure that they will be compassionate about your dental situation?
The Comprehensive Dental Exam
This all important exam launches a lifelong master plan for your dental treatment-similar to an architect's blueprint. It is a thorough diagnosing tool and your appointment may take as long as an hour and a half. During that time, the doctor and the dental team are listening to your concerns and gathering facts about your medical history, which will be reviewed by the dentist before the exam begins. This examination records the "big picture" of your dental health. It is a diagnosing and planning appointment that every dental patient should experience.
Sink Your Teeth into This: The comprehensive dental exam is an honest plan that lets you know about all the disease in your mouth and forecasts what dental work will be necessary. It represents a standard of care in dentistry and provides the patient with a yardstick to measure the integrity of the dentist. Periodically the exam is updated to confirm the state of your dental health.
What to Expect During the Comprehensive Dental Exam
The dentist will be looking for decay, bone loss, abscesses, missing teeth, cancer, tumors, extra teeth, wisdom teeth, and any other mouth abnormalities. This thorough exam will give the dentist all the necessary information to make a complete diagnosis.
The exam should include:
* A medical history
* An oral cancer examination
* A periodontal evaluation to check for gum bone disease
* Individual teeth checked visually for decay
* Bite checked to see if teeth fit together properly
* 18 x-rays or digital images (less if you do not have all of your teeth) to check for decay and bone loss and any other abnormalities (If you're an adult and you have all your permanent teeth, it takes this many x-rays to do a comprehensive exam)
* Panoramic x-ray and/or models of the teeth, if necessary
Time for a New Attitude!
Have you noticed that the old dental story i s really taking on a new twist as you come to the end of this article? Those who say "I hate the dentist" have many objections including "the dentist is always finding something new wrong with my teeth." But a person who can find the right dentist, who knows what to say to the dental team in order to develop rapport and trust, and who understands the importance of getting a lifelong master plan for good dental health has nothing to fear or object to. We hope by now that you have discovered it really is possible to overcome dental fears and objections in order to make healthy choices for your mouth. You are becoming an informed dental consumer with an attitude that suits the 21st century.
From <I hate the dentist> by Dr. Mac Lee.