I firmly believe that this is the greatest service we can offer patients. Each dental patient is unique. Each individual has different levels of oral health, general health, financial means, insurance coverage, life expectancy, vanity, or even self discipline. All of these determine what the best dental treatment for a patient is. Most of the time patients are generally healthy and we restore a broken or decayed tooth with a beautiful life like restoration. We provide an environment that patients like and we know the issues they face. We have treated their problems and now they have good dental health and we deal with their minor problems if they arise. There are more complex cases where new patients have multiple teeth or a full mouth that is in disarray. These cases demand a special type of strategic thought that we pride ourselves on. There is no one right dental treatment in any complex case. It is imperative that you tailor treatment to each individual. You must have a dentist that is thinking about your long term dental health and wants to give you value for your money. They must plan for your dental oral health in twenty years and how to get the most from your insurance coverage.
I have seen a dental patient where they had 4 teeth left in their head. Their previous dentist had done 4 root canals and 4 crowns on those teeth. He then made an upper and lower partial denture which each hooked on two teeth. I estimate that the patient spent about $12,000 on his mouth and the work was done 4 years previously. I have to say that the quality of work the dentist did was outstanding. I also have to say that he probably drives a nicer car than me because his strategic thinking was horrible. His strategy may have been to make money not treat his patient properly. This dental patient had lost 28 of his 32 teeth to periodontal disease and decay. The dentist could only save 4 teeth and they were so decayed that they needed root canals and crowns. Each tooth cost at least $2500 to restore. He then hooked partial dentures to them which dramatically increased the work each tooth had to do. Teeth do not like to do more work than they should. If you have one tooth bear the force of what four are designed to do, it will fail. Well guess what? The day I saw this dental patient he was in excruciating pain with a severe infection around one of his remaining teeth. There was no possible way to save the tooth. Unfortunately, because of poor strategy, the other tooth holding his partial was now being torqued out of his head by the partial. Both teeth on the bottom needed to be removed and a full denture placed. X-rays showed that the upper teeth would soon suffer the same fate. I explained this to the patient and solved his immediate problem of removing his 2 lower teeth and adding teeth to his partial. Within one year the same had to be done to the upper because he started having pain.
There is no doubt in my mind, that if a patient had lost 28 of 32 teeth already, there was little chance his partial dentures would last very long especially since they were holding on (and stressing) his remaining teeth. Strangely, he didn’t get any better at taking care of his teeth either. Frankly, I am surprised his $12,000 investment lasted 4 years. The original dentist should have made the options available to this patient but realized his plan was doomed from the start. Brand new dentures would have saved this patient $12,000 and the results would have been better and more predictable. Always find a dentist who welcomes open lines of communication and is informative about your options. Look for someone who is generally concerned about your welfare and understands how much treatment costs. Dentistry is expensive, but look for a dentist who wants to deliver real value for your money. It is always someone who wants you to be a patient forever.