10 Recommendations every patient should consider when visiting his/her dentist
Dr Rick Mars
ARTICLE: AWARD-WINNING MAGAZINE, 2021
All my years in dentistry have shown me, the most important thing for you to feel as a patient when you walk into your dentist’s office is trust. The best way to begin a healthy, trusting relationship with your dentist is for you to have an innocent until proven guilty mind-set. Remember, every doctor is a patient somewhere else. We know what it is like to be in your position as you walk into our door.
I am the managing partner of three dental practices in South Florida: The Dental Care Group in Miami, The Dental Care Group in Pembroke Pines, and Dental Care Group Kids. For all three offices, we are constantly raising the bar to exceed our patients’ expectations bringing trust to their lives and educating them, so they can better understand why things cost a certain amount of money, why they might have to wait for their appointment, and why they should not have a cleaning on their first visit to a dentist. More specifically, we are a modern patient-centered organization.
Years of seeing how meaningful the results of a patient-centered organization are and my passion for dentistry compelled me to write The Big Smile. In this book, I was able to narrow down important material, focusing on the everyday disconnect between patients and their dentists and what goes behind the scenes in a modern dental practice.
My goal is to educate you the best I can, so that you have the best possible experience with your healthcare provider. Below are ten recommendations every patient should consider when visiting his/her dentist and, in return, receiving the highest level of care possible.
1. Demand better from your dentists
The first thing you should demand is that your dentist educates you about your health and your treatment. If you are unclear about a procedure, ask for an explanation or even a visual demonstration.
2. The trust relationship between patient and doctor is a two-way street.
You must discuss your wants, needs and dislikes with your dentist. If you have enough trust with your doctor and can tell your doctor exactly what the problem is, oftentimes, that doctor can and will remedy the problem. Remember, doctors who are very cold to criticism are not worth your time.
3. Give your doctor the chance to fix it.
Most dentists want to provide the best care for their patients, we value our relationships with our patients and want to preserve those relationships.
4. Have great big expectations.
You absolutely have every right to expect a high level of care when you visit your dentist.
5. You expect your dentist to be on time, but we expect you to be on time.
Some patients think, “I waited for my doctor last time, so my doctor should wait for me.” But this situation is unfortunately not reciprocal. Patients wait for their dentist because there was likely a dental emergency or an issue with other patients being late.
6. The best policy for patients is to accept responsibility for their role in their own dental health.
By doing this, they strengthen the doctor-patient relationship because it becomes a team effort rather than an adversarial one.
7. Ask the awkward questions.
When doctors discuss consequences, they should try to cover every possible outcome from doing or not doing a treatment. There’s only one outcome that most healthcare providers won’t voluntarily discuss, which is what happens if you, the patient, cancel the treatment after scheduling or while in the middle of treatment. We trust our patients are there to get help and will follow through with the treatment until it’s done.
8. There are often a multitude of treatment options available to patients at a dental office.
If a patient reports to a dental office with a missing tooth, one dentist will suggest an implant, another dentist might say to do a bridge, and yet a third might recommend replacing the tooth with something removable, such as a partial denture. All of those treatment plans are objectively correct. You need to ask the right questions to make sure you understand the treatment options.
9. Never hesitate to get an honest second opinion.
Sometimes, even though you trust your dentist, you might hear a treatment plan that just doesn’t sit well with you. This is a good indicator that you need further education by your current dentist, another treatment option by your current dentist, or a second opinion by another dentist.
10. Ask to see the results of your investment.
As with any service or product you purchase, you want to see the results of that investment. Dentistry is no different. Even if the procedure isn’t cosmetic, it’s smart to ask your dentist to show you the results of the treatment.
My goal is simple, to raise the bar for dentists and patients. I want to educate patients on how they can get the most out of their relationship with their oral health practitioner. I want to provide a reference for current and future dentists across the country. Whether through my book, speaking engagements, website or social media, I aim to spread the message of the importance of superior dental care to as many people as possible. If you want to join me, I’d love to connect. You can reach out to me directly or find me on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.