In the past twenty years, dentistry has changed a lot for the better. New anesthetics have been developed that allow for more profound anesthesia, meaning less pain. Instruments have evolved to make treatment less invasive, less traumatic, and more comfortable. Technology has advanced to allow us to detect disease in the earliest stages, making treatment more conservative than ever. Most importantly, there has been a shift to patient directed care where patients are presented different treatment options along with the risks and benefits of each option. Patients can then choose their own course of treatment.
Dentistry is one of the remaining frontiers of medicine where patient care is largely determined by patients and their doctors, rather than actuarial tables, deductibles, and allowable procedures.
The one drawback to patient centered care is it’s very strength. You, the patient, must first decide and then act upon a treatment plan. All the comfort and technology and dental wizardry in the world cannot occur until a patient chooses to move forward and fit needed dentistry into their life.
Just what everyone wants for the holidays...a chance to fit dentistry into their life!
A common question dentists hear is, “How soon does this really need to be done?”
Or, “Doctor, how long can I put this off until it starts to hurt?”
My favorite, although slightly sarcastic, response is, “Please just call us a day or so before your tooth begins to hurt and we’ll gladly work you into the schedule.”
All joking aside, the point is that your dentist doesn’t know when a tooth will break or abscess or start hurting any better than a cardiologist may know when that partially blocked artery will cause a heart attack or a stroke. Every body is different.
The truth of the matter is that once disease is diagnosed, it will never be less invasive, more conservative, or more cost effective to treat than it is today. If left untreated, problems will most definitely worsen over time.
The real question is, “How will this treatment benefit you?”
In dentistry, the benefit of treating now can be prevention of pain, a beautiful new smile, cleansing the body of disease causing inflammation, or the gaining the ability to eat the foods you want to eat.
All of which might make for a better holiday season.
Until next week, keep smiling.
-Please send comments to Drs. Parrish at www.ParrishDental.com.