A Dental Patient’s Guide: How to Make the Right Decisions?
Imagine this scenario:“You walk into a dental clinic, wanting to replace some missing teeth. You may have heard about implants, you may have heard about dentures. Or you may be completely clueless.You are sitting on the dental chair, the dentist examines and presents you with various treatment options. Your mind is overwhelmed, you are confused. Your dentist asks you for a decision. You either answer ‘What would you recommend?’ or you’d simply reply ‘I’d think about it again…’”
How many of you can relate to this? I’m sure it resonates with the majority.
Below I’ll be guiding you through step by step, how you can learn to choose the right dental clinic pose the right questions to your dentist, and hopefully make the right decisions for yourself.
1.What is an implant or denture or bridge? If you do not know what they are, don’t be afraid to ask. Ask for a picture/ model to better understand them. It helps when you can visualise something.
2.What is the procedure like? Would I experience any discomfort? Is there any surgical procedure involved? Ask for details on how the treatment for each is carried out. I personally wouldn’t want someone working on me without my prior knowledge of the process!
3.How much is it? Is it Medisave claimable? Can I pay by instalments? Are there CHAS/PG subsidies? Be upfront about the costs from the start. You understand your finances best, and your financial condition may be a driving factor of your decision at that point in time. For example you could make a set of dentures whilst saving up for implants subsequently. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that too!
4.What are the risks and benefits of each treatment? No treatment is perfect. There are definitely pros and cons of each, and it varies depending on each patient. Lay out the pros and cons in front of you before you decide.
5.What is the success rate of the treatment for me? How long would it last? Again, the success rate and longevity of the treatment differs from each patient. Try not to base your treatment choice based on what your friend/ the internet tells you, what works for someone else might not be the most advisable in your case!
6.Do I have other alternatives? Sometimes not doing any treatment and leaving things status quo can be a good alternative too. Just like the Latin saying, Primum non nocere (First do no harm)
7.Lay out your expectations/ values from the start. How much do you expect out of the prostheses? Do you value function/ aesthetics/ costs more? For example, dentures may be cheaper, but they are less stable when biting than implants. We would definitely try our best to balance your expectations.
Hopefully this short guide would be able to help guide your chain of thoughts at the dentist’s. Especially if you are one of those dental phobic patients who gets stressed and blank out on the dental chair. Remember, at the end of the day, you are responsible for your own dental condition. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor any medical questions !
About Author: Dr Meow is a full time practicing dentist, and the chief dental editor at doctorxdentist.com, an independent medical portal in Singapore.