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Doctor-patient relationship important

March 1, 2010 at midnight
Updated March 1, 2010 at 9:02 p.m.

Sara and her dentist did not have a clear communication line open. As a result, she is not happy with her smile, even though she has a healthy mouth.

The more educated about modern dentistry, the more likely one is able to get their desired results. It's essential for the patient to know their options and have clear communications with their dentist.

After all, it is the patient's teeth, money and emotions. If communications are not open, the patient may not be happy with their treatment or final outcome.

This is exactly what happened to Sara. As the photo illustrates, her dental work does not match her natural teeth.

When she smiles, she feels like her mouth is screaming, "Crowns, crowns, crowns!" She now hides her smile, which is a shame, especially with today's technology.

Even though the off-color crowns are very functional, they were done with older techniques and they were done without involving Sara in the decision-making process as to their color and shape.

Combining today's technology, along with good communication between doctor and patient, would have brought an equally functional, yet esthetic outcome. Of course, this holds true not to just dentistry, but all doctor and patient relationships.

Patient's Role

There are times when fillings and/or crowns are needed. If the patient wants a good, predictable cosmetic outcome, they need to express their wants from the very beginning. The also need to "test drive" the outcome.

In other words, the patient needs to see what the crowns look like before they are cemented permanently. If they don't like them, they need to express their explicit opinion.

Doctor's Role

The first thing they should do is to listen and find out what a patient wants. The second is to use the latest technology. Dentists can now take digital pictures of existing teeth and e-mail to a laboratory that specializes in all porcelain crowns.

In Sara's case, a concerned dentist would have pointed out the potential problem of her new crowns not looking like her natural teeth.

Even though Sara did not like the color of her natural teeth, she certainly didn't want stark white crowns next to what she has. An excellent lab, with proper information could have done a much better job of matching the crowns with her teeth.

If your doctor doesn't take the time to talk with you about care and treatment options and possible concerns, it's time to start looking for a new doctor.

Mac Lee is a dentist in practice in Edna. He is the co-founder of Dentists Who Care, a national movement to educate the public on modern dentistry. If you have dental questions you can call him at 361-782-7191 or visit him at www.drmaclee.com.

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