The importance of care

I've been thinking about a question I often used to hear from my children when they were young - "Who is going to take care of me?".  As both my husband and I had full time jobs and relied on a variety of babysitters, nannies and after-school programs to help cover childcare responsibilities, this was a reasonable question.  In hindsight, I am beginning to think that they were asking a more global question - will someone provide GOOD CARE for them - instead of inquiring about a fact - WHO will care for me.  My children knew that someone would care for them; what they wanted to know is what kind of care could they count on.  Like all children, they had their favorite sitters and looked forward to days when those sitters were the ones providing the care.  The reason the favored sitters were special to my children was a direct result of the care that was given when they were together.  The personal attributes of the childcare provider that mattered most were the ones that influenced their ability to care for my children; not the ones that were reflective of who the sitter was as an individual.  Compassion and selflessness mattered a whole lot more than age, appearance, social status, background, car owned, etc.  

As a healthcare provider, I am seeing this same concept play out daily in the media and on social networks as well as in my office.   The deep anger and frustration citizens express over our national leader's inabililty to address US healthcare's escalating costs and declining quality of service are real.  Leaders craft policy by tinkering with health insurance funding but fail to appreciate the collateral damage of continual change.  By now, most have faced the choice of paying out of network for their existing doctor or trying someone new.  Forced to make a change, people are deeply concerned that the quality of healthcare that they expect will not match up with the level of healthcare they actually receive.  The fear of the unknown results in a mix of disappointment and anxiety.  If the new healthcare provider fails to meet the patient's expectations, the healthcare provider risks reinforcing the patient's feelings of anxiety and apprehension.  

It is deeply important to me that my patients experience care that exceeds their expectations and puts their anxiety and apprehension to rest.  Just as my children's concern with their daily care experience was of high importance and front of mind, I realize that this is the primary concern of my patients as well.  The result is my commitment to create consistent patient experiences that build their confidence in my ability to care for their teeth, as well as for them.  

 

Is maintaining your dental health possible on a budget?

I am posting this because it has been on my mind quite a bit lately.  The business person side of me understands (all too well) the importance of business cash flow from billable care but the health care provider side of me knows that some people just can't afford the cost of care at the prices we have in Dallas.  My schizophrenic dental personality is well represented in the raucous public discussion over our healthcare system.  One side calls for universal "free" healthcare while the other demands a  free market marketplace.

It is a privilege to work with good people who value their oral health to the point that they are willing to sacrifice other things for the sake of their teeth.  Dentists have spent many decades working to increase what we call the dental IQ - basically understanding the importance of good oral health - of the general public, only to reach the point that our high dental IQ patients fear that they cannot afford what they know they need to do.  

Prevention is always the best way to keep your dental costs down.  Establish good dental hygiene practices early and your teeth will benefit.

 Below you will find my do's and don't list of how to maintain your dental health without breaking the bank.

DO:  Brush after eating and before bed.  Floss.  Practice prevention by establishing a relationship with a dentist and see that same dentist every 6 months or more often if recommended.  Address problem areas in your mouth before they become bigger problems.  Wear a mouthguard for sports where your teeth are at risk.  Use Fluoride toothpaste.  Obtain orthodontic treatment if the position or fit of your teeth causes you problems with cleaning and/or chewing.  Reduce stress.  Life a healthy lifestyle.

DO NOT:  Smoke. Use chewing tobacco.  Eat or drink sugary foods in between meals.  Go to bed without brushing your teeth.  Visit the dentist only when a problem comes up.  See a different dentist every time you see the dentist.  Ignore dental pain.  

Your oral health often is a reflection of your overall health.  Take care of your body and it will save you big bucks in the long run.

My advice when looking for a dentist....

I subscribe to a local Facebook page and am surprised at how often people ask for advice in finding a dentist.  Fortunately many good names are handed out, so it seems that query by Facebook may, at least in this instance, be a good way to find a dentist.  That said, I would suggest a few other things.

1. Go to a private practing dentist and avoid corporate dental chains.   Unfortunately corporate dental chains often require their employee dentists to "produce" a certain dollar amount of dental work to maintain their job.  Dental chains also will not allow their dentists to determine what materials are used or which dental lab they work with.  While dentistry is a business, the dentist-patient relationship is protected when your dentist is also the owner of his or her business.  

2. Ask personal friends and family who they recommend.  Do not overly rely on internet "ratings" like Google+ and Yelp.   "Word of mouth" referrals are a great way to pre-screen a potential healthcare provider.  Good dentists often have many happy patients in the community who are more than willing to tell you about their experience.

3. Check out the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners website and avoid going to a dentist with a record of board reprimands.    The state board exists for the benefit of Texas dental patients.  Actions that the board has taken against dentists are available on their website.