Patient Expectations in the Dental Office

Most patients seem to have reasonable expectations of the care they receive from their dental providers. It is reasonable for our patients to expect us to provide the right amount of treatment for their dental needs- no more and no less, for a reasonable fee. For the majority of patients, the dental service most often received is of a periodontal nature, such as a prophylaxis or periodontal maintenance procedure. This generally occurs two to four times a year. Restorative treatments such as fillings, root canals, denture and crown and bridge work do not happen as frequently.

Is it reasonable for our patients to assume that we are the experts in dental knowledge, products, services and staying current with the latest dental technology? You bet it is! It would be embarrassing for a patient to ask his or her dental provider a question such as “My friend, who is also dealing with gum disease, gave her dentist a saliva sample. Then they were able to figure out the bacteria causing the problem. Why don’t you do that too?” A reply, such as “I don’t need that” will mostly likely not satisfy the patient.

As dental professionals, the most important possession we have is our reputation. The highest compliment a patient can say is they trust us. Trust is very fragile, it takes time to establish and can be ruined in a moment. Once gone, it’s gone for good. Patients do not know what is available to the dental profession and they trust us to stay current. If a dentist makes an informed decision not to provide salivary testing, they should be prepared to explain why. After all, it is reasonable for our patients to expect that we are providing optimal care with the most up to date advances available.

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Richard H. Nagelberg, DDS
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