I understand that choosing a dentist can be challenging, and there are so many options out there leaving you feeling somewhat uncertain. At least in Lexington, there are many to choose from, and it can be difficult deciding who will be right for you. People often look to referrals from friends, the internet, and even insurance providers for recommendations. I would urge you to consider another variable that is often not considered, which is the level of care that is practiced.
Levels of Dental Care
All dentists and all dental practices are not created equal. I have found that there are four levels of dental care that are provided by dentists. Each dental office will typically focus on one primary type of care, although they will sometimes work in other levels. Here are the four levels:
Level 1. URGENT CARE. This type of care may be critical for many people at some point their life. These people have an emergency dental problem such as pain, swelling, severe headaches or facial pain that needs immediate assistance. This type of care is strictly putting out fires without addressing the underlying cause of the issues.
Level 2. REMEDIAL CARE. Patients who choose this type of care are usually only concerned with treating something once it breaks or hurts. Many times the goal of this treatment is to correct the side effects or symptoms of an underlying problem. For example, if your teeth are wearing down or breaking, there is probably a reason other than they are weak or you have bad genetics. It is more likely that you have an uneven bite that is placing extra pressure on that tooth, thus causing it to break.
These underlying problems will resurface with another tooth shortly, usually leading to more dental work and frustration from the patient. Who could blame them for being frustrated? I know I would be. Over the long run, these patients will likely pay more, have more pain, and end up with less than desirable comfort and function than if the cause of the problem was initially corrected.
Level 3. COMPLETE CARE. Patients who choose this level of care are more concerned with preventing future disease which allows them to protect their oral health for a lifetime. At this level, patients will have a Risk Assessment of the key areas of the oral system. They are fully evaluating the gums and supporting structures of the teeth; the teeth themselves, the function of the jaws, muscles and joints, any cosmetic or esthetic concerns, and of course their overall general health risk assessment. This leads to less dentistry and cost over a lifetime allowing for excellent comfort, function, longevity, and appearance.
Level 4. COMPLETE CARE – PHASED. This level is the same as level 3; only the dental care is phased over time. There is absolutely nothing wrong with phasing treatment. There is still a plan to achieve life-long health, and the patient is taking steps to achieve it. They are always focusing on preventing new disease and are taking steps to reduce risk in one or more areas of the oral system at a time.
If you are unsure which type of care you would like to receive I would encourage you to ask yourself some important questions:
- Do I want to keep my natural teeth?
- Would I rather treat the symptoms of disease, or remove the cause of the problem?
- Does insurance dictate the outcome of my oral health, or will I make those decisions for myself?
- Would I like to spend time building a trusting relationship with my dentist?
- What is the ultimate long-term goal I have with my oral health and who could best help me attain that?
The better questions you ask yourself about your oral health, the more empowered you will be to make an educated decision on the level of care you wish to receive.
When I started my practice, I made a promise to help people keep their natural teeth healthy and pain-free in a cost efficient way. We’ll help you become as healthy, alive, and youthful as you choose. This is a significant departure from traditional dentistry. Instead of simply telling you what’s wrong with you and keeping you passively involved in treating disease, we want to provide you with proper information to help you Prevent all future disease; Protect your present state of health; and Renew your oral health as needed in a planned, sequenced and predictable way.
It is common for people to start out at level one or two and decide that they would like become more proactive; therefore, choosing the level three or four approaches. Our goal is oral health education and quality dental care for anyone who desires it. I offer anyone who wants it, a no-fee consultation to sit down and talk with me for 30 minutes. I’m passionate about delivering level 3 and level 4 dentistry to my patients because of the profound impact it has on their lives.
Talk To You Soon,
Will Yoder, DMD