Some of my philosophies were generated from my experiences as a dental patient. I know what it feels like to have a filling that is too high and needs adjustment. I have also had experiences that I perceived as negative due to poor communication and/or outcome. Taking from my personal experience, I always try to do what I would like done for me or my family.
During my residency at Mt. Zion Hospital in San Francisco, I gained some important ideals that have shaped my thoughts even until today. For example:
- The majority of dentistry is elective. What this means is that if you are not going to die from a problem, then it is a choice you make to correct the problem. For me, this is powerful and it reminds me that we all have different values and desires when it comes to oral health. We are here to inform you and to guide you but ultimately, you will decide what treatment is appropriate for you.
- Patients should have control. As the patient, you are the consumer of our services. Therefore it is logical for us to appreciate you and do our best to ensure your comfort and satisfaction. We have learned that a big part of anxiety in the dental field is loss of control. One way we give the control back to you is to educate you as best that we can on your diagnosis and treatment options so that you can make an informed decision that fits you, your values and your desires. Another way we give you the control is with a “clicker”. We have all experienced being dental patients and we know first hand that communicating with the dental team is difficult during a procedure. By using a toy “clicker” as a convenient way to signal us to stop and by encouraging you to use it for situations such as an itch on your nose or the need to stretch your jaw muscles, we give you back control of the situation.
- The most important part of communication is listening. Unless we know you, we cannot treat you how you would like to be treated. Let’s get to know each other.
- We hope people have positive feelings about dentists and dentistry but we recognize that many have negative feelings. To be a great dental team it is important for us to understand these negative feelings and try to make people feel comfortable, value our service and feel that they are in the best dental office for them. Some negative feelings are; fear of pain, fear of cost, loss of control, not being sure that treatment is needed (trust), not being sure that the practitioner is skilled (difficult for patients to judge this), questions about the disinfection/ sterilization procedures of the office, embarrassment of their dental situation, embarrassment of their home care, some patients have gag reflexes, general dental fear (phobia) and many more. All concerns are real and valid. We will try to make your experience as easy as possible by trying to recognize any reservations that you may have then being kind.
Caries Detecting Stain:
Caries detecting stain was first developed to show kids the plaque on their teeth. It is mostly food coloring and it highlights the bacteria in plaque to make it easier to see. It is now available to be used on the tooth to see if any decay is still present after we prepare for a filling. By repeatedly using it, removing the decay that was stained and using again until the remaining tooth does not stain, we can be sure that there is no more decay. This allows us to be conservative and not take too much healthy tooth structure and to be thorough. This is not the fast way to fix teeth but I feel in my heart it is the only way.
- Beginning with our new patient exam we take a lot of pictures. The initial pictures can help people understand the condition of their teeth. Photographs also act as a baseline. In the future we can compare new photos with older photos to see if there is a change in the gum line, teeth, lesions in the mouth, etc..
- We take pictures when we restore a tooth with a filling or crown. This way you get to see what I saw. You will see the cavity and the final filling. You will gain confidence that we treat teeth well and only when needed.
- If there are problems with a tooth that was previously treated by us, we can look back to see how large or deep the decay had been and this may help in our diagnosis.
- We also take a photo of you. In our first stages of getting to know you, having a photo to connect your name to your face will help us get to know you faster.
Thanks for taking the time to read all of this. WOW! We are a work in progress and strive to always improve. We welcome all feedback.
Jonathan Weisman and your dental team.