Straight Teeth Talk: Find right dentist to fulfill your needs

By Mac Lee
May 27, 2014 at 12:27 a.m.

With the advent of the Affordable Care Act, many of the old ways of practicing healthcare and receiving health care will slowly disappear. I can't speak for the medical community but have some clear ideas on where dental healthcare is headed.

My comments are not based on fact but simple experience and common sense. The key to the health issue is for the patient to find the right dentist and vice versa.

Dentistry may be a health service, but it is also a business. And and like all businesses, it is consumer driven. For each dental consumer demand, there will be a dental business model to fulfill the need.

There are basically three types of consumer demands for dentistry:

  1. Only when there is an emergency, which usually ends with extraction of the bad tooth.

  2. Only wanting dental work that is paid by insurance.

  3. Wanting a personalized dental plan that will keep the teeth healthy and functional for a lifetime.

I truly believe everyone has the right to fit in either of the above categories; how and what they decide is certainly none of my business. I also believe patients need to find the right dentist to fill their needs.

Emergency pain

If problems occur, the best thing to do is look for a dental office in your area that advertises for emergency care via the Internet. Not all dentists do surgery, so it is a good thing for you to do your research.

Insurance driven dentistry

First of all, there is no such item as dental insurance only dental benefits which act as a coupon. There are basically two kinds of dental benefits - on a plan or fee for service.

If you are "on a plan," your company will have a list of dentists who signed a contract to give deeply discounted dental rates. These discounts range from 30 to 40 percent with no or limited copay to the patient.

If you have a fee for service, dentists charge their standard fee, file your insurance and usually estimate your copay. All plans have their negative and positive issues.

If, for whatever reason, insurance is your driving motivation, research is still the first step in finding a dentist who is right for you.

It is absolutely in the best interest of patient and doctor if you are very upfront and express your views if you are only interested in what insurance will pay.

Personalized dentistry

Modern dentistry has made incredible strides in the last few years. It has two major components: prevention and restoration.

There are three ways people lose teeth: gum disease, decay and unnatural forces. If a person starts the proper prevention at a very young age and their teeth fit properly, chances are they will never need any dentistry at all.

Once a tooth starts decaying, once gum disease starts destroying the bone or a bad fit of the teeth start destroying teeth, something needs to be done. It only makes sense, right?

For those who want to maintain their teeth for life, they need to find a dentist they trust and together work out a lifelong personalized dental plan. The goal of the plan is to keep their teeth for their entire life.

Dr. Mac Lee practices in Edna. He is a international speaker to dentists and is an adviser to Dr. Mehmet Oz. To learn more, visit or call 361-782-7191.



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