Written by: Dr. Jesse Ritter
Today I'd like to talk about a topic that I am very, very passionate about, and that is this whole difference between comprehensive, complete or holistic dentistry (it may be called any one of those three things) and the more basic type of dentistry. It's something that may be difficult as a patient to know what type of dentist you or others may have.
I talk about cosmetics a lot, because that's something that I'm very, very passionate about. Transforming somebody's smile is one of the most satisfying and impactful things that a dentist can do for a patient. The concept of comprehensive though, is equally, if not more important, when it comes down to what type of dentist you want to have. Traditional dentistry is what most people associate with dentistry. You go in for your new patient exam, and you will just see the hygienist. You get your teeth cleaned, the dentist will then come in, do a real quick exam, you get a chance to meet them and have a short conversation with them. Then they'll tell you, if you have cavities. they'll tell you if you have gum disease, and talk to you about brushing and flossing. That's sort of the more basic model of dentistry. That’s the type of dentistry that is most commonly practiced in the US.
But there is another way, and there's also variations in between. Every dental practice is unique. But from a patient's perspective, when you're looking for a dentist, you may want to know, “Does this dentist treat comprehensively? Does he/she give that option?” Personally, I give everybody the option to choose the level of care that they want. Not everybody wants comprehensive dentistry, right? They want just emergencies taken care of, they just want their pain or broken tooth taken care of. They don't want to talk about cosmetics, they don't wanna talk about their bite, things like that. And, that's totally okay. But I think that it's an important thing for the dentist that you're looking for provides the option to provide comprehensive care. Is it customized to you the way that you're treated?
Let me give you an example of how we go about this in our office, so that you can have something to gauge things off of. In my office, one of the intake forms that we have involves patients choosing from five different classifications/levels of dentistry that we can offer them. It starts with emergencies. So if you're in pain or you break a tooth, then t, and you just want us to fix that and nothing more, you have that option. You don't want to come in for regular hygiene appointments or anything like that. It’s important for us to know, is that where you're at? Is that what you're used to? Is that what you expect?
At the opposite end of the spectrum you can choose the comprehensive and cosmetic option. It's the complete and best way that we can treat you. It’s everything involving basic things like treating emergencies, broken teeth and decay. We would also be proactive with teeth that could break by forecasting problems that could happen and get ahead of them. We’re also going to look at your occlusion and how the whole system works together, your joints, your muscles, your teeth, so that we can mitigate force in your mouth and make sure that things last, and don't wear or break down over time.
Then lastly, we're gonna talk about the cosmetics. If you consider this an important part of your treatment, you let us know by selecting this option. So that gives us an idea, of where you fall in the spectrum. We think this is helpful because many patients may have an awareness around one type of dentistry. Maybe you've only known dentistry as, oh, you treat emergencies, and when something breaks, you get it fixed. Sort of like when you go to the mechanic to get something fixed with your car, right?
There's an awareness that comes in during the conversation that we have with you. There's an opportunity to move up in how you wanna be treated. And that can be because you're ready to make a change, you're ready to think about things more comprehensively, maybe you're willing to invest more in your health and in your teeth, or something's changed in your life recently, and you feel like “I can do this now, or I'm ready to do this now” it just all depends on what you’re feeling and where you’re at. It's fully customized.
This is the point I’m trying to make. It's really important that when looking for a new dentist in any way, that you have have the option, to have your entire system looked at, to be treated more comprehensively. To not just be treated for emergencies or broken teeth, or just focused on decay and gum disease. You may want to keep your joints healthy, your muscles healthy, you want your teeth to look good, on top of all those other basic things. If you want those options, you should do your research, and make sure that the dentist that you end up going to offers those things.
Not everybody wants that. Not everybody needs that. And I have to say it, I have to be frank, maybe not everybody can afford that, right? Maybe that's really not in the cards for your specific financial situation. But, if you feel like you at least have curiosity, around knowing more in depth, what's going on with your mouth, being more proactive, and preventing problems before they happen, comprehensive dentistry is the way to go. You would want to find a comprehensive dentist.
The name of my practice is Smile Solutions of Baltimore. I didn't just make that up thinking “Great, that sounds good.” I actually believe thats smiles and solutions to your problems are important. Doing in depth exams and treating you in a comprehensive way allows me to help you in a bigger way. Even if we are focused on doing cosmetic work, there's a responsible way to do cosmetic work, and there's a irresponsible way to do it. You've got to factor in all the different factors with your bite and your overall health, maybe even your sleep, if you have obstructive sleep apnea, all kinds of different factors that go into that. That cannot be taken lightly, even when you're focused on cosmetic work.
I hope that this information was helpful to you, and if you have any comments, please, please post them or, or send them to me, email them to me, thank you so much for reading this post. I look forward to catching you on the next one.