Sounds funny, doesn’t it? How could it be possible to have a dentist who cares too much?
You schedule regular appointments with your dentist because you want to stay on top of your dental health. You attend your appointment, and the dental hygienist asks about your brushing and flossing habits, and you tell the truth…you try to brush twice a day, but sometimes fall asleep before you remember to brush at night. And flossing? You have some floss, but only use it once in a while…and now you feel so guilty! The hygienist completes your dental cleaning appointment and makes some suggestions about how your gums could become healthier. You’ve heard it all before…brush at least twice per day with a good electric toothbrush, floss every night, maybe even use a Waterpik to flush debris out from under your gums. Yes, you tell your hygienist, you know you should do all that, you really will try harder before the next time.
Then, you see the dentist. She checks your teeth and suggests replacing some fillings which are starting to wear around the edges. You’ve had some of those fillings since you were 16 years old…which was a long time ago. But really, nothing is bothering you so you figure you’d prefer to leave well enough alone. Besides, your dentist has been talking about these same fillings for the past two years…and nothing has gotten worse as far as you can tell…
These scene replays itself day after day, week after week in dental offices around the world. Patients come in for dental advice and dental hygienists and dentists have lots of advice and expertise to offer. And yet…most of the time that exact same scene will be replayed at the next office visit with that same patient, and the patient will have made zero changes to their routine and not followed the dentist’s recommendations for treatment. What is going on here?
I can only speak to what I know about my dental team. We have excellent oral hygiene. We brush and floss and Waterpik (sometimes even after lunch at the office!). We take pictures and xrays of each other’s teeth and replace old fillings when they need replacing. We clean each other’s teeth every three months so that none of us have bleeding gums…ever. We ensure our loved ones do the same. We really feel strongly about dental health, we love what we do and we love our patients and we want them to be as dentally healthy as we are. Sometimes, when patients don’t take our recommendations and follow through with treatment or changes to their home care, we feel as though we care more about them than THEY DO!
Here’s what we would really like the public to know…we only recommend and provide treatment for our patients that we would recommend or provide to our spouses, our children, our parents, our siblings, our best friends. We want each of you to be as dentally healthy as we are! YES, that takes work on your part! You can pay us to come to your homes twice a day and manage your oral care for you…but you can’t afford that. We want YOU to take responsibility for your health, and we want you to know for a fact that your whole entire body can only be as healthy as your mouth. It’s true. Everything you eat and drink, your breath, your kisses to your family…all of that is an opportunity to communicate both healthy and unhealthy bacteria throughout your body and to your loved ones. Please know that when we make suggestions to you and recommendations for treatment and you follow through with those, you are making our jobs easier in the future but mostly you are helping yourself.
Maybe you’d prefer a dentist that doesn’t care so much, doesn’t keep suggesting dental treatment…a dental hygienist that doesn’t care if your gums bleed “just in some areas”…but know that you won’t find that here. Let us know if you are ready to enjoy your best possible dental health.
Dr. Andrea Stevens is a cosmetic and family dentist in practice in Kanata, Ontario. If you have dental questions, you can call her at 613-271-7091 or visit her at kanatacosmeticdentist.com Please also feel free to leave comments or questions below, and Dr. Stevens will be happy to answer!