Est. 1998

Dental Treatment Plan

When you feel confident that you’ve found a dentist who is right for you, it’s time to deal with the practical side of dental repair. To make sure you get the best treatment plan possible, tell the dentist, during your initial visit, that you want the same treatment plan he would use if he were treating his own mouth instead of yours. After the examination, X rays, and hygiene therapy, you’ll have a consultation with the dentist and he’ll present you with one or more treatment plans. Using the information he got from the exam, the X rays, and the hygienist, he will have determined the best way to restore your mouth to health and proper function. The presentation of the treatment plan is one of the most important consultations you will ever have with the dentist.

When he submits your treatment plans, you must be 200% percent clear about what will be done, why it will be done, how it will be scheduled, how much it will cost, and how you will pay for it. Most dentists operate within a very tight and busy schedule, and if they’re not requested to explain everything they might not take the time to do so.  Of course, you may have already established such a trusting relationship with your dentist that you don’t need to have everything explained in minute detail. To make the right decision you don’t have to know about dental equipment, the best way to prepare a dental restoration, and all the other stuff a dentist learns in school.

But you do need to know what he’s going to do to your teeth and why. This begins when he presents possible treatment plans. It’s up to you, working with your dentist, to choose the best one. Your ultimate decision will be based on your age, the condition of your gums and bone, your ability to take care of your mouth, your financial situation, and aesthetic considerations. Every situation is different, and what’s good for the goose is not always good for the gander.

You don’t want him to present a treatment plan based on what he thinks you can afford. It is not in your best interest to make such an important decision on the basis of cost rather than quality. If you’re willing to do your preventive homework you’ll be financially and functionally better off if you spend the extra money to have your dental work done right the first time. If you don’t choose the best treatment plan you’ll end up spending more money in the long run because you’ll be continually replacing fillings. Thus, if you have a tooth that can be filled by an amalgam filling, but would eventually have to be replaced by a crown, you would be better off going for the crown, even though it costs more now, and saving the added cost of the amalgam filling.

Once your dentist knows you are totally devoted to taking care your mouth, he may be willing to offer you a payment plan that would allow you to get the best quality treatment now. Many dentists give a discount if you pay in cash, so ask the receptionist if he does.

On the other hand, if you’re not willing to take care of your tooth the cheapest dental work is the way to go-it will eventually fail , but there’s no sense spending money on quality, long-lasting fillings if you’re not going to take care of your mouth. It’s frustrating for the conscientious dentist to try to explain to you that his work failed because of your poor oral hygiene.

When comparing your treatment options, ask the dentist how long the restorative work proposed with each treatment plan can be expected to last. Not all restorations last the same length of time.

This information will be extremely important when it comes to making your final decision. If a less expensive restoration is estimated to last five years and a more expensive one to last ten years. it’s probably better in the long run to get the one that lasts longer. As you well know, prices always seem to go up, not down. So, if the less expensive one has to be replaced in five years it will end up being more expensive than the ten-year plan.

My twenty plus years of experience dealing with dental patients have proven to me that unless patients know and appreciate value of their teeth, they’ll always be able to justify why they shouldn’t spend money on them. That’s too bad. Until you’ve lost them, you’ll never know how valuable your natural teeth are. So make sure you get the best treatment plan available, and if you can’t afford the best, get the best you can afford. Believe me, it’s not my intention to promote more business for the dentist. In fact, it’s just the opposite-I don’t want you to spend a nickel more than you have to. But I’d be letting you down if I didn’t make it clear that it’s in your own best interests to have the highest-quality treatment possible. But make sure you take care of the work you have done. — you do, you’ll be one happy dental patient.

Tom McGuire