What is the future of dentistry?

With the start of the Affordable Health Act in the United States, many of the old ways of practicing health care and receiving health care will slowly disappear, and we are already seeing this change in Canada as well.  I can’t speak for the medical community, but I have some clear ideas on where dental health care is headed.  My comments are not based on fact, but simply on experience and common sense.  The key to the health issue is for the patient to find the right dentist and vice versa.

Dentistry may be a health service, but it is also a business and like all businesses it is consumer-driven. For each dental consumer demand, there will be a dental business model to fill the need. There are basically three types of consumer demand for dentistry:

1. Only when there is an emergency, which usually leads to extraction of the bad tooth.

2. Only wanting dental work that insurance pays for.

3. Wanting a personalized dental plan that will keep the teeth healthy and functional for a lifetime.

I truly believe that everyone has the right to fit into any of the above categories, and how and what a patient chooses is not for me to decide.  I also believe that patients need to find the right dentist to fill their needs, as it is not possible for any one dentist to help all of these types of patients.

Emergency Pain

If problems occur, the best thing to do is look for a dental office in your area that advertises for emergency care via the internet. Not all dentists do surgery, so it is a good thing to do your research and ask that question before scheduling an appointment.

Insurance-Driven Dentistry

First of all, there is no such thing as “dental insurance” that pays for 100% of everything.  There are only dental benefits, which act like a rebate coupon. Dentists are required in Canada to charge the same fee to every patient for the same service, regardless of having dental benefits or not. If you do have dental benefits, your dentist will likely submit your claim for you, and you will receive the amount the insurance has contracted with your employer.

If for whatever reason dental “insurance” is your driving motivation, research is still the first step in finding a dentist who is right for you. It is absolutely in the best interest of the patient and the dentist if you are very upfront and express your views if you are only interested in treatment that will be fully rebated.

Personalized Dentistry

Modern dentistry has made incredible strides in the last few years.  It has two major components, prevention and restoration.  There are three ways people lose teeth: gum disease, cavities, and unnatural forces/injury. If a person starts the proper prevention at a very young age and their teeth fit together properly, chances are they will never ned any dentistry at all

Once a tooth gets a cavity, once gum disease starts destroying the bone, or a bad fit of the teeth start to destroy the teeth, something needs to be done.  It only makes sense, right? For those who want to maintain their teeth for life, they need to find a dentist they trust and together work out a life-long personalized dental plan.  The goal of this plan is to keep their teeth for their entire life.

Most people do not even want to think about their teeth because that would mean a trip to the dentist, right? The smart thing is to go to the mirror, have a look at your teeth, and decide how important they are to you. Set your goal as to what you want for your teeth and the health of your mouth and either discuss with the trusted dentist you already have, or find one you can trust. Just remember that they are YOUR teeth, and YOU are the one that has to make whatever decision is in your best interest.

Health is an investment

There really is nothing better in life thn being healthy and feeling good. As with everything else, it comes with a price. The price includes money and everyday prevention.  You can be on the best diet in the world, and exercise every day, yet still have health problems.  The mouth tends to be different. When everything is correct and taken care of from the start, your teeth and your dentistry can last a lifetime.

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!