It may seem somewhat self-serving for a dentist to be sharing his personal views on prevention, after all it works in my favour if my patients adhere to the prevention principle, right?
I get it. Undoubtedly, there is economic value for a dental practice in the age old maxim ‘prevention is better than cure’, but you may be surprised to know, prevention is a two way flow.
That’s right, it involves both the dentist and the patient.
And it’s the very reason I am an advocate of the ‘prevention is better than cure’ mindset and have been for a long time.
I mean ‘Teeth. For Life.’ – as I promote through our practice – really is my thing.
Want to know why? Let me elaborate.
Being a dentist can be scary
Having practised as a dentist for close to three decades, I realise there are a lot of people who are not just scared of going to the dentist; they are absolutely terrified.
I absolutely understand that, but have you ever considered maybe your dentist is not completely comfortable either?
Sure, we can handle the technical stuff, but the softer side – like communicating and getting to know you – well, that can be equally as terrifying for those among the profession who aren’t Natural Born Communicators.
I recognised this limitation in myself sometime ago and actively took steps to remedy it, and I’m so glad I did. The results have been rewarding for me and my patients and in very surprising ways.
I’ve learned to master this side of my business, because it is through this direct communication channel that the key messages about prevention rather than cure can be most effectively shared with patients.
How so Dr Miller?
That’s a great question so let me try and answer it here.
What I have found is that if I take the time to talk with you face-to-face (not at you while you’re lying virtually prostrate in an examination chair), you will more likely know how much I care about you and your oral health.
It’s through this channel of communication (that’s right, just having a conversation!) that I can convey the importance of regular dental visits (yes, there should be two a year!) and consistent, effective oral hygiene practices (yes, flossing is necessary).
I understand there are other ways to get this message across – through literature, marketing, and blogs like this – but in my mind, there is no better way to communicate with patients about prevention than one-to-one.
This is because when I communicate this way my patients understand I am part of their team. And that is a good thing because prevention is a team effort.
What does that mean?
What that means is prevention involves both the dentist and the patient.
From our perspective, the team at Dental as Anything does its part for patients by providing service, treatment, education, and information.
But what about the patient?
It is not just as simple as showing up for a hygiene visit every six months; although doing this is important and necessary. A patient’s role in prevention goes beyond these visits.
The basics of day to day care are vital also and they are a patient’s responsibility. Daily brushing, flossing, and eating well all rest with the patient.
As a patient, if you fail to prioritise these basics in your daily routine, you are playing roulette with the long term health, function and appearance of your teeth.
Ultimately, you will end up paying a price. It may not be the proverbial arm and leg, but it could very well cost you teeth. And if you choose to take remedial action, it will cost you financially also.
And what about how you feel?
Beyond the more visible costs are the costs to self-esteem and confidence, and there is no price that can put on these things.
If you don’t believe me, then consider spending some time in my shoes. I have treated hundreds of patients who have lamented the state of their teeth as a result of neglect.
Prevention is a shared responsibility.
You need to do your bit and so does your dentist.
This mutually responsible relationship is becoming even more important as research further consolidates the findings that preventative dentistry and oral care is not just a safeguard against dental disease; they are integral to overall health and wellbeing.
Our awareness and appreciation of this relationship is why hygienists form such an integral part of the Dental as Anything practice.
It is why we take time (between 60 and 90 minutes initially), to get to know you, your dental needs, concerns and goals.
It is why we comprehensively examine your teeth, gums, tongue and mouth, including taking a safe digital X-ray, photos of your teeth and other oral health screening procedures.
It is why you will always have the time and opportunity to ask questions and understand all options available to you.
If you don’t feel you’re working with your dentist in this way, you may find the prevention measures in place are falling short.