How Much Do You Really Want Your Patients to Know?

In recent decades the health care culture has changed from what it once was.  It used to be one in which the doctor was the authority, and all of his patients blindly trusted his word.  Now the culture has switched to one where we as patients have become independent thinkers.  We have realized the need to become our own advocates and not rely solely on what the good doctor says.  In many ways this has been a positive change, but has it ever caused problems for you or your patients?  Does it always seem to benefit your patient?  Does it ever stand in the way of the patient listening and learning from their own trusted doctor?  What if the information is misunderstood or misused?  What if the information is actually wrong?

As a dentist, what do you want your patients to really know about their oral health?

My good friend, Heidi, recently debuted her book called How to Avoid the Dentist.  Heidi is an excellent dental hygienist who I worked closely with for several years.  This woman loves dentistry, and she loves her patients.  She gives them her cell phone number and calls them after appointments to make sure they are okay.  She hugs them when they arrive and when they leave.  She not only does her best to provide the best service available, but she also spends the time to teach her patients how to care for their teeth themselves.  She individualizes her care for each person.  And one thing about Heidi is that she often has an opinion, and she’s not afraid to share it.  Over the years it has become her mission to share her “get real” advice in order to help protect her patients.  In her efforts to protect and guide them to getting the best treatment from their dentist, she has compiled years of her observations into a book aimed at giving patients the knowledge and tools they need to get the most out of their dental care.

Heidi shares her opinions on many controversial issues in the dental field.  Do you want your patients to hear that amalgam fillings may be a significant source of mercury toxicity?  Or that your patient may not really need the scaling and root planing or crown that you recommended?  Or how about suggesting the use of a product called Periogen to dissolve calculus as an ALTERNATIVE to scaling and root planing?

These are just a few of her suggestions in the book.  So check it out, and then tell me what you think.  Is this the type of information you want your patients to know, or would you prefer they didn’t?  Why, or why not?


8 thoughts on “How Much Do You Really Want Your Patients to Know?

  1. I’ve followed your posts for some time now and felt I needed to join in. I’m a 58 yr old dentist, retired from this profession at 52. Couldn’t be happier to have my career BEHIND me….Oh My Lord, how dentistry has changed, if fact, the entire healthcare system…..and I don’t like it.

    1. Hi Paul,
      Thanks for joining in. I think a lot of people agree that the system has changed for the worst. It certainly didn’t turn out how I expected it to be. I thought it would be a lot more trusting and positive then it turned out to be. Oh well, that’s why I got out, I guess. Like you, I am grateful every day that I have the career behind me!

  2. I think the majority of health care services—whether simple or complex—has been commoditized greatly. For the most part, health care is big business and the health care deliverers are directed more by policy and procedures than the delivery of health care per se. IMO, the current structure favors the interests of a corporation above that of the patient/consumer. Personally, I appreciate my current DMD and MD to tell me things that I must know, in a style and language that’s not condescending.

    1. Dear Occam Blade,
      Since you “hire” your health care providers I think it is your RIGHT to demand it! Asking to be educated (verses lectured) should be part of the job requirement! I wish EVERY patient got proactive about their health care.

      1. Could you imagine qualifying your health care providers the way an employer would qualify you in a job interview? I’d like to be a fly on the wall for that one! And thanks much for stopping by.

    2. I 100% agree with you, and I will add that in dentistry the interests of the corporation are favored over that of the dentist. This is why I personally would always choose to see a dentist that isn’t part of a corporation. I would choose the one that works for themselves and gets to dictate the way they practice in a way that is in line with their values. Hopefully as patients we can see what their values are, and get to choose the right doc. I guess that’s one of the challenges that go along with it. I’m so happy to hear that you have docs that are there for you.

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