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To Prep or Not to Prep

July 16, 2013



The second a dentist sees teeth he wants to fix them.  I guess it just comes with the territory.  Or is it just good old American pragmatism.  I used to be that way until I took the time to really understand people.

That thought process lead to the writing two books, The Art of Examination and the forthcoming Art of Case Presentation.

The photo on the right was recently posted on Dentaltown. The post was titled, “She Wants No-Prep Veneers–What Would You Do?”  It spurred a slew of comments that caught my attention.

Now…I know the title asked a direct question…but my first thoughts centered around how she knew what “no-prep veneers were.”

The comments answered that question…it was Lumineers she wanted.

I recalled a quote from Theodore Levitt, the ex-editor of the Harvard Business Review who said:

 “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole.”

And so it follows that patients don’t want no-prep veneers…they want…

That’s for the dentist to find out from the patient.  Even the guy at Home Depot asks what I am going to use the quarter-inch drill for.

The comments in the post are fairly enlightening.  Most of the commenting dentists wanted to do bleaching or orthodontics.  Many voted against any veneers at all.

Reading through the comments lead me to some perceptions about the state of dentistry.

One thing I see is that most dentists truly want to stay with conservative treatments…bleaching and orthodontics.  I feel the same.  However the public’s perception is that dentists tend to want to destroy teeth.  I guess that’s why the media portrays dentists as “drilling for dollars.”  The comments confirmed what I have always felt about the dental community…that they are caring concerned professionals who want to help their patients.

Another thought I had was how obsessed we are with whitening teeth.  Have we been lead to believe that whiter teeth equals cosmetic dentistry.  I am sure that if a dentists had a serious conversation with the patient she would come up with a few more things than just whitening.

Stop looking…this isn’t about fixing her…it’s about understanding her.

Who is she?  Dentists should REALLY get to know their patients...it’s part of the examination and diagnosis.  Only then, once we have articulated the problem…can we present the case.

In order to do that we must approach our patients without an agenda…like the guy in Home Depot.

Another thought, which was also expressed by the author of the post, is that the patient came in with a knowledge of Lumineers or no-prep veneers.  Okay, I know the various methods to treat prostate cancer but I will always defer to the professionals to help make my decision.

The state of advertising in health care these days is a blessing and a curse.

Doctors must work through it…by becoming better leaders and staying true to their diagnostic abilities...above all to keep the human component in dental care.

I have faith.







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