Tuesday, May 24, 2011

But I just wanted my teeth cleaned!

Are you unemployed?  Underemployed?  You sure can't get a good job with bad teeth, So, prudently, you go to see a dentist to get your teeth cleaned.  But once in the dentist's office, you find they have different ideas. You hear things like, "ooh, you'll need at least 6 crowns" or "have you considered a brighter smile?" or "let me show you your damaged teeth on our big screen monitor!"

These things may have their legitimacy, in fact one of the main benefits of regular care is that we can catch problems while they're small, saving you time, money, and pain.  What I want you to know is it's perfectly ok just to get your teeth cleaned and examined.  You may not be in a position to go forward with treatment that's been diagnosed, but at least you'll KNOW.  Ignorance of decay, gum disease, or oral cancer is the most costly choice of all.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The balance

"Caring without science is well-intentioned kindness, but not medicine.  On the other hand, science without caring empties medicine of healing and negates the great potential of an ancient profession.  The two complement and are essential to the art of doctoring"  -  Lown

Tough choices

Some people that come to see me for the first time are a wreck. They're in pain and they're fearful. They know they waited too long to have their teeth cared for.

So I ask them, "why DID you wait so long?" The answers are always one of three: 1.) I was afraid it would hurt 2.) I was afraid it would be expensive, and 3.) I don't have insurance.

Sadly these concerns ALWAYS turn into self-fulfilling prophecies. Most big problems start out as something small. A cracked filling probably doesn't hurt (most people don't even realize they're cracked) and might cost $200 to replace. Untreated, bacteria will enter the crack and over a few months encroach on the nerve. NOW it hurts! But now a simple filling is no longer an adequate solution. At the very least, the inflamed nerve has to be removed (root canal) to stop the pain, and the now weakened tooth will need a crown. Our fearful patient has made his concerns a reality … his $200 replacement filling has become a $3000 reconstruction. Oh, and did I mention the pain?

The only way to know if you have little problems that need to be caught early is by regular dental examinations. TEETH GENERALLY DON’T HURT UNTIL IT’S TOO LATE! I can’t overstate that. The mouth has a very poor "early warning system." But exams and radiographs are pretty affordable, maybe $150 – 200 for complete screening. And it’s not just the teeth we examine, but also the health of the gums, the ligaments that hold teeth in place, bone health, PLUS we screen for oral cancer and oral manifestations of systemic issues, such as diabetes.

We, and by this I’m speaking for quality oriented, patient-centered dentists, are trained to protect your health, keep you comfortable, and ultimately reduce your costs. Let us help you! We love keeping our patients happy.

As a final thought, which would you think more prudent, changing your oil every 3000 miles, or replacing the engine every couple years?


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Ask a friend.

I was just watching a TV ad for 1-800-dentist, a dental marketer.  In it a woman suggests to another that asking a friend for a recommendationn isn't a good idea.  Says she, "1-800-dentist has been referring some dentists for 10 years, some even 15 ..." or words to that effect. 

I feel so blessed to have had patients in my practice for 25 years and more.  My favorite part ... the toddlers brought by their parents to see me for their first dental visit are now bringing their toddlers ... how cool, how very rewarding.  Now THAT'S a patient referral.

So go ahead, ask a friend.  They may not know hours of operation or where I went to school, but they know what they like, who they trust.

Btw, very early in my career I participated with a dental marketing service.  I seem to remember that their "screening" process was little more than to check if I could pay their bill!