Choosing your dentist
Thursday, November 11, 2015
When it comes to dentistry, there are two costs you need to bear in mind: the financial cost, and the cost to your health and wellbeing.
Whilst financial costs can be subsidised and/or recouped, the cost to your teeth cannot. You only get one adult set of teeth, the only parts of the human body that don’t heal.
Therefore, it’s crucial that your dentist is the best fit for you and your teeth!
A good dentist will focus on proactive restorative dentistry to minimise dental issues and prevent further problems, be properly trained and qualified, be able to provide proof of their work, not be upset to answer your questions, and have the best interests of your overall healthcare as their number one priority.
The best way to get to know your prospective dentist is to have a conversation with them. Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions!
You can even think of it as an interview – after all you’re searching for the right person to effectively look after your dental health and overall welfare, and they only get one chance to do it right. A few good questions to get you started include:
1. What qualifications do you have and what services do you perform?
Professional qualifications are the first that come to mind. You want to ensure your dentist is qualified and experienced in providing quality dental care. A quick way to check qualifications is to search the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency website. The website can tell whether or not a dentist is licensed, and whether or not any disciplinary actions have been taken against them.
2. What is the practice/dentist’s philosophy?
This is an important question that is often overlooked. A dentist’s philosophy will dictate the options they present to you. Emergency and reactive dental practices often only give limited information about quick fixes that may not be the best long-term treatment. Proactive practices will spend far more time explaining and planning the treatment before commencing work. This usually leads to a better, more predictable end outcome and is well worth the extra cost.
3. What liability will the dentist or practice take ownership of?
It’s vital to know where you stand if or when things don’t work out. This is like a prenuptial agreement and provides a level of security for both you and the dentist before commencing work. A good dentist should have no qualms about standing behind their work, and will be able to identify all the possible negative outcomes before starting treatment. This will ensure you are fully informed and give ‘informed’ consent to any treatment provided.
4. What dental treatment option does the dentist do for themselves and their loved ones?
A good way of working out the best option is to ask what the dentist would do for themselves or their loved ones. We generally only do the best on those nearest and dearest to us. If possible, ask for photos or x-rays of this treatment.
5. Can I have a tour of the practice, including the sterilization area?
Seeing is believing, and it’s important that a practice maintains the highest level of infection control. Quite often, the areas that are visible are kept neat and tidy, but it’s the areas hidden from view that are the real test. Like a restaurant with the kitchen on display, a dental practice with nothing to hide will be more than happy to show you the sterilization and cleaning areas, if not the whole practice.
6. How do you stay up to date with latest dental practices?
A lot has changed in dentistry over the past 20 years, and some dentists have been practicing for a lot longer than that. To ensure you’re receiving the best treatment available, it’s important that your dentist is keeping on top of best industry practices and doesn’t stop researching and learning.
Once you have chosen your dentist, don’t stop asking questions. Before embarking on any major dental work, I recommend asking the following questions:
- What is the problem?
- Have you seen this problem before?
- What are my options?
- What are the pros, cons, and longevity of each of these options?
- Do you have before and after photos of a similar case?
- What is the worst case scenario?
- What will happen if I do nothing?
Watch the video for my advice on questions to ask your dentist.
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