We’ll often hear about good dentists from family members or friends who say they’re happy with how their dentist is gentle and kind, and how the dental practice is clean and up-to-date. Beyond that, we often don’t know a lot about what it is that makes a dentist truly excellent at what they do. From a practising General Dentist’s point of view, here are a few things to keep an eye out for if you’re looking for a new oral healthcare provider, or if you’re just temporarily away from your usual clinic and need to see someone other than your usual practitioner:
Dental appointments used to be quite simple – you walk in, state your problem, sit down and have the problem fixed to some degree, and then you leave and pay the bill. Essentially, dentists used to be like carpenters for teeth. The problem with this is that nobody ever really knew if their dentist was doing a good job or whether there was a better way of doing things. In this modern age filled with so much new research and technology, so many different treatment options, and an emphasis on preventing problems before they need to be fixed, it’s so important to have a dentist who can explain everything in a clear and understandable way. People who know more about their teeth are empowered to make better decisions for their oral health, and will have a much less stressful, less painful and less costly dental outlook ahead.
The old saying of “a picture is worth a thousand words” is extremely relevant to the field of dental photography. Instead of writing down the state of each individual tooth, photos can now be quickly snapped and digitally saved. Instead of recording how deep a filling was, for example, intra-oral photos of the tooth can be taken at multiple stages during the filling appointment. Photos are nice to look at when you want to see “befores and afters”, and they serve as a reference for dentists who are constantly trying to improve and perfect their craft. On that note, my recommendation is to always try and find a dentist who’s proud of their photos of teeth – they will generally provide a better level of service, and they can only get better at what they do as time goes on.
Modern medicine as a whole is gradually shifting further and further away from one-size-fits-all treatments towards more tailored or customised care. Every person is unique – not just from a biological or medical standpoint, but also in that they have different life priorities, different budgets, and different ways of approaching various issues in their lives. As a practising dentist, it’s a daily goal to avoid painting my patients with broad brush strokes; it is also an ongoing effort to avoid simplistic recommendations such as “you just need to floss more” or “we just need to fill these cavities”. The best dentists are interested in finding out every possible factor that may be feeding into your dental condition, and giving you personalised and detailed information on how to not only fix but also prevent these issues from happening in the future.
Although this is not an exhaustive list and there are literally hundreds of other things that make a great dentist, I personally feel that these three things together are among the most important. Don’t settle for a dentist who takes photos but never shows them to you or explains them, and don’t be satisfied with a dentist who has great conversations with you but doesn’t seem to have an individualised and ever-evolving plan for your best dental health. Keep an eye out for future posts and articles where we’ll continue to provide tips and information about the parts of dentistry that are important to us!