All dentistry has a finite life and will inevitably fail

It may be a surprise to learn that, regardless of the diagnosis and treatment, all dentistry has a finite life and will inevitably fail..

(Unless, of course thepatient dies first!)

Establishing the Diagnosis

On the very first visit, the consultation by a dentist will involve reviewing your medical history, a chronological account of any problems, a clinical examination of your mouth including teeth, existing restorations and the gums. X-rays and impressions of the teeth are often required to establish a diagnosis. The diagnosis established between a group of different dentists often remains relatively constant. However, the proposed treatments may vary widely, based on the individual training and experience of each dentist.

It is incumbent upon every clinician to clearly explain the pros and cons of each option proposed in a given treatment plan so that every patient has all the information necessary to make an informed decision that best suits their individual needs. Treatment should only begin once this process has taken place. This process however is not always experienced by patients, often leading to misguided expectations and disappointing results, irrespective of a perfectly executed treatment.

No two dentists are the same, and finding a dentist to offer the right treatment plan for your individual needs may appear challenging and a bit of a lottery. So what’s the best way to find a dentist that suits you?

Finding a Specialist Dentist

Recently, there have been vast changes in Specialists Dental clinic services. Where previously dental treatment was referred to hospitals, patients now have access to the Specialists in Dentistry directly. The public need to be aware that references to Cosmetic Dentistry, Smile Centres and Implant Clinics may indicate specific services provided by a general dental practitioner with a special interest in the field. The General Dental Council assists the public in distinguishing between those General Practitioners with a ‘special interest’ from the fully Accredited Specialists. Visit http://gdc-uk.net and type “Bath” into ‘Town’ field to find all registered specialists in the local area.

Choosing the right treatment for you

When considering the risks and benefits of a treatment plan offered to you, communication is paramount. Always ask your dentist about any concerns you have prior to treatment. In the end, the treatment that is right for an individual patient can just ‘feel’ right and fits with your expectations and lifestyle.

Much of the specialist services in existence today can be viewed as bioengineering, whereby damaged hard or soft tissues in your mouth may be replaced with a choice of materials and surgically restored. Tooth decay is removed and replaced with metal alloys, resins or ceramics (Restorative Dentistry). Infected nerves in teeth are treated with Root Canal treatments (Endodontics). Gums may be returned to health with the use of brushing and cleaning regimes involving toothpastes, antiseptic mouthwashes and other antimicrobial agents. The replacement of lost bone around the roots may be effected with the use of bone grafting and bone regeneration material with innovative surgical procedures (‘Periodontics’). Lost teeth may be replaced with dentures or bridges (‘Prosthodontics’) and with the advent of dental implants one can now replace roots to support crowns and bridges (‘Implantology’).

Successful Outcomes

The success of a dental treatment plan depends upon a myriad of factors, which may include the following:

  • Relationships
  • Continuity / Attendance Record
  • Communication Skills
  • Emotional History
  • Expectations
  • Primary Disease Control
  • Mechanical Factors
  • General Health
  • Occupation
  • Lifestyle

There is a multitude of factors to ensure you receive the treatment you should expect. Patients share the responsibility for a favourable outcome with your dentist. Biology may sometimes be unpredictable but when a practitioner explains the reasons for potential failures and provides you with ongoing care, subsequent failures’ may be accepted and managed effectively.

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