I’m frustrated. This month, I celebrate 40 years in private practice. And, for most of that time, I’ve professed to and educated people about the ways to prevent dental problems. Now we know that problems in the mouth don’t stay in the mouth; they spread everywhere. The message isn’t spreading fast enough.
Every week, I see people who come to me for the first time. Most of these people find me either by way of their physician or other healthcare provider, as we enjoy an enviable reputation in the field.
Some people come to me through other patients or even through a search on the internet. I appreciate these referrals too, as I want to help as many people as possible.
What upsets me and frustrates me is that most of the new patients I have seen have been seen by other dentists most of their lives. Yet, when they come to me, they have PROBLEMS. Most have underlying problems that have simply been neglected.
Our healthcare system promotes treating symptoms rather than uncovering causes.
I get it. Preventive care isn’t sexy or for that matter financially beneficial to the healthcare provider. Most dental practices see their hygiene department as a necessary evil and a loss leader. They know that people want their smiles to sparkle and their teeth to feel smooth and clean. So, they give the hygienists a minimal amount of time and urge them to “find work.” After all, “work” is how practices make money.
And, the public shares responsibility for this, too. When new patients call us, after asking “do you take my insurance?” they often ask to have their teeth “cleaned.” These people think of hygiene as a “cleaning service” and not the preventive, risk assessment and diagnostic visit it should be.
That’s because in most dental offices, that’s what hygiene is; a cleaning service. At MDH, there’s a whole lot more that goes on during a visit with the hygienist. Maybe I’m not communicating that well enough.
If so, I’m guilty and I apologize.
I don’t know of another practice that spends as much time discussing prevention as we do. Do they do bacteria profiles and test saliva? Do they perform constant risk assessments to help prevent cavities and gum disease? Do they discuss the interactions between the mouth and the rest of the body?
After 40 years, I can safely say that the people who have routinely seen our hygienists have the fewest problems with their mouths. The investment truly pays dividends in health, function and comfort.
So, here’s my plea to you; don’t wait until someone asks you if you know a good dentist. If you wait for that, they’re already experiencing problems. Don’t you want to help those you care about prevent problems?
Be proactive, tell people about the wonderful care you’ve been getting. Forward these emails to others. Spread the word. There’s a better, more effective way to prevent dental problems and NOT many dental practices are doing it. Not many healthcare offices practice finding causes before treating symptoms. We do because it’s the right thing to do. It works! That’s what I’ve learned after 40 years of practice. And, because I still don’t have it totally right, I’ll just keep on practicing!
To everyone’s excellent health and wellness,
PS: I just finished a new Ebook entitled: “Secrets of Finding a New Dentist in 2017.” If you’d like us to send someone you care about a copy, just shoot us their email address.