The ADA helps members keep current with the latest information affecting dentistry to provide the best-possible patient care. Seven out of ten dentists are members of the ADA. Representing the overwhelming majority of dentists, the ADA can be an effective advocate for patients and the profession. This includes the ability to deal with the insurance industry and the government on issues that affect patients.
Good dentists take a personal interest in patients and their health. They are prevention-oriented but not faddists. They use x-ray films and probably suggest a full-mouth study unless suitable films are available from the patient's previous dentist.
A thorough dental examination includes inspection of the teeth, gums, tongue, lips, inside of the cheek, palate, and the skin of the face and neck, plus feeling the neck for abnormal lymph nodes and enlargement of the thyroid gland. In adults a periodontal probe should be inserted between the gums and teeth to detect abnormally large crevices. Good dentists also chart their findings in detail.
Regular check-ups can detect problems early. Routine tooth cleanings, bite evaluations, periodontal examinations, early interventions, and fluoride treatments can often avoid costly repairs. The frequency of maintenance care (including calculus removal and x-ray examinations) should be based on an assessment of the frequency of cavity formation, the rate of calculus formation, the condition of the gums, and any other special problem. Once current treatment has been completed, the patient should be placed on a recall schedule and notified when the next checkup is due.
Be wary of flamboyant advertising, because it is likely to signify an emphasis on mass production rather than quality care When the fees charged per service are low, the number of services performed may be greater than needed, resulting in higher overall cost .
Dentists whose ads overemphasize "twilight sleep," cosmetic dentistry, and one-visit comprehensive treatment may not be interested in long-term maintenance care that does not generate high income .
Routine use of intravenous sedation is another bad sign because it means that patients are exposed to unnecessary risks. Although general anesthesia can be appropriate for children [2,3], adults with seizure disorders, and a few other situations, the vast majority of patients do not need it for routine dentistry.
A small percentage of dentists espouse or engage in unscientific pracftices. You should avoid any dentists who:
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