5 Things to Look For In Finding the Right Dentist For You
It is very important for anyone to find the right person to assists us for our specific needs or concerns. More so when finding our personal doctors and dentists. They are either your first line or the last line of defense when it comes to your health. First line because it is necessary for us to have more preventive attitude when dealing with our health rather than curative. Last line of defense because if all things fail, they will be the one to find and resolve the situation if possible through curative methods. Doctors and Dentists in general sworn to first do no harm to their patients, that's their oath and I sincerely believe that majority do take that oath seriously. However, we are people too and fallible to human errors and temptations to forget what we sworn oath to take care of you. That's why we have to be very discerning in finding the right doctor and dentist that will take care of our general and oral health.
I am both a dentist and a patient. And, I know how it feels to suffer from a human error of our health providers. When I was 2 1/2 years old, a medical doctor injected me at the wrong area of anti-tetanus hitting my sciatic nerve and rendering me cripple for the rest of my life. Due to my situation, I continually suffer from its effects including putting my profession in jeopardy as it now affects my back. However, this blog is not about the story of my life but this is for patients and for the general public to make sure that they should put importance in finding the right doctor and dentist to take care of you and your family rather than making the price more valuable than your health. The effect can be devastating if you made the wrong choice.
I. Education & Training - I can totally understand that we are sometimes shy to directly ask questions from our dentists where they studied and finished school. As a patient, you have every right to do so. You just need to ask them without sounding insulting. Ask them nicely and in a manner within a conversation, any dentist worth his/her salt will not deny you of that information. If they don't provide you an answer to that question whether directly or indirectly then think twice of having your treatment done by that dentist. If you can't really ask then look at your dentist's diplomas and certificates that hang on their clinic walls or placed on their desk. It is not only required by our organization to post those diplomas on our clinic's wall but it is a badge of honor of any dentists to do that in their place of work. Now, don't just look but read them specially if the dentist is claiming a specialization in their field. As a dentist we are all trained to understand all dental subjects, however, it is like jack of all trades master of none, thus, we are required to have some more training for fields that are more crucial and may result more harm to the patient if not well trained and educated for it. This is more so glaring in the practice of Surgery, Implant and Orthodontics. I believe Orthodontics is the most over used field of expertise that almost majority of dentists seem to claim to have a specialty on including those who are not even dentists. In a lot of Asian countries, especially in the Philippines, it is only recently that a formal post-graduate degree are available in dental universities for dentists to have an additional specialization without them having the need to go abroad and cost them an arm and a leg to avail this education. So, a lot of specialized practices have done their training through short-term education and training either locally and abroad. Please take note, though, that training maybe short-term but it will never be done in a matter of days. If so, these are just seminars and a dentist has no business claiming to be specialized on that field. If that is so, then, just make sure that your dentist have more years of experience to practice that specialization so it can outweigh the formal education necessary for them to treat you in their claimed specialization.
II. Professionalism - There are a lot of brilliant dentists in terms of clinical acumen but have no professionalism whatsoever in their bone. Why is that important to you as a patient? It is important because it involves one of the most significant and basic criteria of choosing a dentist. It is significant because without it even with good education and training, they can do anything without compunction against what they know is good for your well-being. Their main concern is to just earn. Although, I will be the first one to tell you that dental practice is a business like any other healthcare services, it's primarily providing conscientious service. And, service in my book is giving first the best treatment to the patient irregardless of what can be a loss to my financial gain. It also means giving value for your money. This means that even if the charge is high as long as your dentist has given you the best that can be given, then, you get your money's worth as well as safety to your health. Providing proper dental service is never cheap, so, beware of cheap prices. You will never know what was sacrificed behind the scenes in order for that dentist to give you the dental service cheaper than your haircut in the salon. Let me be clear, though, expensive doesn't necessarily follow quality dental service and that cheap equates to affordable prices. Cheap is when the prices are so ridiculously low that you will wonder why. One telling sign of unprofessionalism is when the dentist is doing the best she or he can to destroy another dentist's reputation to you by uncalled and damaging criticism. Once a dentist do ambulance chasing at the expense of their colleague, then, you better wonder why that is so. Their intention may not be to protect you but to get you especially your hard-earned buck.
III. Attitude - This is related to #2 but separate because they may have Professionalism but they have bad bed side manner. Attitude envelopes the entire personality of your dentist. They have to have good disposition in life because as I've said we are all human too. We have good and bad days but having the right attitude allow us not to bring our personal problems to work. Your dentist's attitude allows you to be relax and comfortable enough to ask questions you may not understand fully in your treatment. Your dentist should consider your question/s whether stupid or not a question that is important to you, thus, should be answered with the same value and importance. A dentist who takes easily offense on your complaint and inquiry is not the right person who should be taking care of your oral health. You should be able to ask them anything under the sun that involves in your treatment and will provide answer to your concerns. He/She should also take care and put significance to your right of privacy. Your information and history should be protected whether stated under the law or not. If your dentist don't treat you like how he or she will treat himself/herself then you should consider finding a new one.
IV. Experience - Having a great educational and training background are great but nothing beats experience in my book. Experience is the one that teaches us how to be better and improve ourselves to make it even the best of who we can be. Having the experience doesn't mean being perfect, you maybe surprise but the best doctors and dentists are those who failed before and survived with good disposition. I bet the doctor who made me cripple has probably done everything she can not to make the same mistake. In general, most dentists' worst nightmare is to harm a patient and I believe that goes with all health practitioners in general unless you have a psychological defect. So, when we make mistakes, it will never be intentional. The best part of being a dentist is that although we can end up killing a patient with our mistake, that probability is very nil especially if you don't do surgery. Having said that, it doesn't mean we can't do harm that may scar you for life. Look at most of dentists a long time ago when having dentures is a fad and they mostly end up extracting their patients' tooth or teeth regardless whether it is necessary or not. These patients will be suffering its effect for a long time. So, knowing what you know and experiencing to implement what you know are two different things. A dentist who's been matured in due time will most of the time provide you better care. A word of caution, though, experience doesn't automatically goes with age. You have to be careful because sometimes old practitioners end just being stale to what they know and never grow in their profession. That's why experience comes with attitude.
V. Conscience - Don't be confused with conscience with faith or religion. As you know most of the time the worst kind are the religious nuts that are zealots. There's nothing wrong with having faith and religion but when it is over than the normal and gets mixed with the person's professionalism and attitude, then, I, personally will rather go to a good and professional atheist with conscience for my personal health care. Conscience is having the power to discern what is right for our patient regardless of our personal biases and opinions. Your dentist should provide you the treatment that is based on her/his training that will be good for you and she/he will do to herself/himself if it's the other way around. It is simply doing what is right and not what can be justified by reasoning that is against to your welfare. Your treatment should be discuss well and your options should be given and at the end of the day as long as it is not detrimental to your health, the choice on what to do to your oral care is yours not your dentist's. Your dentist should provide you the best care even about the things you may not know especially when it comes to your protection. And, that's basically providing you a facility that practices infection control protocol. If your dentist don't even have an autoclave that is being used, then, you better think twice if that is the place for you to have the treatment. That is one tip for you that is telling if your dentist do have the conscience enough to protect your well-being because if your dentist makes that optional, then, maybe he or she should be optional to you as well.
Finding a good dentist that has all the 5 tips I've given you is easy. We are many but you just got to look for us. You will find us from people you know that will refer us with all sincerity to you. You will find us not because we have cheap prices or even affordable ones but when you look and research where we are. The most banal thing as to how you will find a good and decent dentist is when you try and judge us on your visit. That's when you'll know if one of us is the right dentist for you.
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