When it comes to your teeth, there are no second chances. The investment you make in caring for your teeth is forever. The partnership you develop with your dentist and his staff in preventive care and treatment is one of the most important relationships in your health care.
The only thing worse than seeing no dentist, is seeing a bad one.
But how can you evaluate the kind of care you are getting?
The following probing questions need to be asked. See if your dentist passes this “dental exam.” At The Dentists’ Office, these and other high standards of professional performance are continuously examined and re-examined in an effort to give our patients the best dental care possible!
1. Is your dentist a talented technician?
It may be difficult for you as a patient to precisely judge your dentist’s technical ability, but even a layperson can usually distinguish good from bad. During prolonged probing or drilling, your dentist should stop periodically so you can relax your jaw. When the dentist is done, your bite should feel natural and you should not experience excessive bleeding. Fillings should not catch your tongue, interfere with flossing or allow food particles to catch in your teeth.
2. Does your Dentist avoid temporary measures?
If your dentist is not willing to take the time to put in a permanent filling and instead “stalls” with one temporary after another, consider that this may be a sign of bad scheduling or, even worse, a way to translate more visits into more money.
At the Dentists’ Office, your treatment plan will be carefully mapped out for you and visits scheduled to fully allow for the time necessary for procedures and for discussion time after.
3. Does your dentist discuss options and choices for your treatment?
A good dentist will discuss the various options and treatment plans which are available to you. The pro’s and con’s of various treatments should be outlined to you so that you clearly understand them. The choices will be evaluated based on your particular dental parameters, as well as other factors such as time and finances. If you wish, the cost of your treatment should be estimated, outlined and itemized, in writing, if you prefer it. No professional is ever afraid of laying out a treatment plan. Together, you and your dentist can make the best decision for your particular circumstances. Our practitioners are available to review the treatment plan and its various components, with you.
4. Does your dentist understand and appreciate your tolerance for discomfort?
The tolerance level people have for pain varies greatly. Your dentist should be sensitive to your limits and personal preferences. A discussion of options and choices for anesthetics and analgesics should be a part of your treatment program. Check on this web site under Your Visit for hints on how to prepare for your dental visit, self-help, stress-busting and pain-management techniques.
5. Is your dentist prevention oriented?
The best approach to dentistry is a preventive one. Your first visit to the dentist’s office should include taking a medical and dental history. Your dentist should also perform a complete oral examination at your initial visit and every year thereafter. In the event that you have special medical problems, your dentist should be in contact with your family physician or specialist.
6. Does your dentist make you an active participant in prevention?
The dentist-hygienist team is a joint effort not only to care for your teeth, but to educate you in a dental maintenance and prevention program. Oral and written patient instructions, (with demonstrations like brushing and flossing), should be made available along with suggestions for improvements based on your individual needs. Our hygienists will keep you up-to-date on techniques and products which will help with your prevention program (e.g. fluoride, antibacterial rinses, anti-plaque devices).
7. Does your dentist keep track of you and your dental needs?
A well organized dental practice must have a good recall system. Sending you regular reminders guarantees that no problem will go unnoticed for too long. Recalls will ensure that you remember to schedule routine checkups and cleanings.
8. Does your dentist order and take X-rays responsibly?
With most patients there is no need for full mouth x-rays to be performed more than every three to five years. An examination and two x-rays (called bitewings) are usually sufficient for dental care. Additional x-rays, of course, may be ordered, if special circumstances arise. A dentist who never takes x-rays of your teeth is just as bad as one who orders them too often.
9. Does your dentist guard against infection?
Infection control is one of the most pressing issues in dental care today. Patients have a right to expect their dentist to make every conceivable effort to guard against infection. Masks, gloves and compliance to Protocol regulations are a must! At The Dentists’ Office we regularly review our office procedures. We take every possible precaution to protect our patients and staff. This office is proud of the level of its safety techniques and welcomes patients’ questions.
Protecting both our patients and our staff from the possibility of infection has always been a priority in this practice. It is for that reason that we did not wait for the government to issue regulations before we instituted many safety procedures in our office that serve to ensure the well-being both of our patients and of our staff. The majority of patients surveyed were shown to be “very concerned” about protection from infection during office visits. Most patients said that they would not take for granted an office’s compliance to infection control regulations
This is such an important issue.
Here are just some of the things we do . . .
1. Autoclave (steam sterilization) of all instruments and handpieces.
2. Use of “disposables” including air-water syringe tips, burs (drill bits), suction tips, prophy angles (the end pieces on the cleaning instruments), needles, masks, gloves, seat headrests, and bibs (napkins/cover-ups)
3. Use of medical “linens” such as surgical scrubs, gowns, tunics and lab coats- worn by all direct patient care providers (anyone who comes directly in contact with you, the patient)