the Most Out Of Your Dental Visit
For many health care problems, dentists can offer multiple treatment
options or grades of dental care. These options may vary in complexity,
durability, and cost. A good example is that a dental implant, a bridge
or a denture can all replace a tooth that has been extracted. Which
one is chosen depends a great deal on what you, the patient, wants.
together, you and your dentist can choose the treatment options that
best meet your needs. This relationship is a shared responsibility.
should explain each treatment option, including its benefits and drawbacks.
You should tell your dentist about yourself and your needs, and ask
your dentist and office staff as many questions as needed to help you
your treatment recommendations. For additional information, consult
your local or state dental society, your library, or visit the American
Association web site, at http://www.ada.org.
Here are some considerations that will help you get information you
need to be a smart consumer of dental care:
What does this treatment recommendation mean?
If you don't understand
any part of what your dentist recommends, don't be afraid to ask
for more information.
Are other treatment options available?
How do options differ from
cost? Which solutions will last longer? Do all options solve
Among the dentists recommendations, which treatments are absolutely
Which are elective? Which are cosmetic?
Which procedures are urgently needed and which ones are less urgent?
Your dentist should be able to prioritize a treatment schedule
to help you distinguish problems needing immediate attention
from those that are less urgent. Often, treatment can be phased
in over time. Be sure to understand the consequences of delaying
How much will this cost, and how and when are you expected to pay?
Does the dentist participate in your health plan? What method
of payment does he or she expect? And when is payment due? Make
sure you understand the fees, method and schedule of payment
before you agree to any treatment.
Feel free to call around the community to compare
such factors as location, office hours, fees, and what arrangements
will be made in case of an emergency. If you are comparing fees,
ask for estimates on full mouth x-rays and a preventative dental
visit that includes an oral exam and a tooth cleaning.
If you have talked with your dentist and are unsure what to do,
get a second opinion. To find a dentist for another opinion,
call your local dental society (listed in the white pages), or
ask a relative or friend for referrals. If there is a dental
school in the area you may be able to make an appointment at
If you are dissatisfied with your dental care, or otherwise feel
your dentist has treated you improperly, contact your state dental
association. Most state dental associations offer peer review
services to mediate disputes between patients and ADA-member
dentists. These services are available free of charge for patients,
and an analysis of peer review cases indicated.