While I normally write about investing subjects, occasionally I will stray from that path and address other issues of interest to consumers. This is one of those blogs. Let me know how you react to it.
For me, dental “pain” means anxiety about incurring pain during a procedure and the “pain” caused by the cost of dental services.
In the hands of a competent dentist, you should experience little or no pain. You can avoid much of the cost of dental care by following the recommendations of your dentist for good oral hygiene, not smoking, eating a healthy diet and having regular check-ups.
Here’s what dentists may not tell you. There have been significant advances in technology that can make your visit to the dentist far more pleasant. However, this equipment is expensive. Not all dentists are willing to invest in it.
These dentists will tell you they are under pressure to keep fees down and buying the latest technology may price their services out of the range of their patients.
But his should be your choice. If you select low fees over more comfort (and often over a higher level of care), you have every right to do so. The problem is dentists don’t frame the issue that way.
I interviewed my friend, Tara Hardin, D.D.S., a prominent dentist in Mason, Ohio (near Cincinnati). I asked her this question: If a patient is willing to pay for world-class dental service, what technology and qualifications should the patient insist upon? Here’s a summary of her response:
1. The dentist should have the latest (purchased in the past 7 years or so) generation of digital x-ray equipment.
2. The dentist should be wearing “surgical loupes”, with a magnification appropriate for his or her age, and a high power LED light, when performing dental procedures.
3. The use of laser cavity detection equipment permits early detection of decay. Dental issues are less expensive to correct when you catch them early.
5. Sub-gingival air polishers can improve periodontal health by decreasing inflammation and bleeding.
6. The Wand (my personal favorite) is a digital platform for local anesthesia. It eliminates collateral numbness (the numb lip and face) and the use of that scary, long syringe. The Dental Vibe uses direct vibration to eliminate pain from injections.
7. Have you ever needed to have a model of your teeth made and were required to bite down on a disgusting gel-like substance and remain still for six minutes? This process can now be done digitally, using a digital scanner.
8. Laser dentistry is what we’ve all been waiting for. No one likes the drill. Some manufacturers like Waterlase and Solea claim their lasers can eliminate noise and anesthesia for most procedures. If a dentist in your area has these lasers (or other comparable ones), you might want to look further into this technology.
Of course, technology in the wrong hands can be dangerous. In addition to verifying that the dentist is licensed by going to the website of the dental board in your state, Dr. Hardin suggests you ask about their continuing education. Each state has its own requirements for the amount of mandatory continuing education for dentists. Look for dentists who exceed those requirements.
It’s important to understand there’s no specialty known as “cosmetic dentistry.” Any general dentist can decide to use that designation. Check to see if the dentist is accredited by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry or has undergone comprehensive training at the Kois Center, the Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies, the Pankey Institute, the Dawson Academy, or the Spear Education Center, among many others.
I hope this information lessens your “dental pain.”
Resource of the Week
This article on webmd.com discusses the latest advances in dental technology.
This week’s video: In & Out
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