Locating the eye of the storm

For this first article I wanted to give you some idea of what’s going on in my head. Oh dear you might think. Do I really want to go there! Scary! For a starter why the title ‘Off the wall’? I suppose I want to shake things up and look at life from a different angle. Preventive dentistry encapsulates this. It is not mainstream, it has always been the poor man of dentistry, probably alongside periodontics and community dentistry. And yet it is the basis of what we do – it is the foundation, just ask Gordon Brown. So I want to try and help bring it to the fore and perhaps redefine it.

Cosmetic dentistry, periodontal regeneration and dental implants are far sexier. They are clearly a very important and essential part of the dental market. But are they as important as preventive dentistry? Dare I say not!

I fear I am somewhat muffled. I am trapped in a padded cell and screaming to be let out, is anybody out there truly listening? Patients are, perhaps understandably, reluctant to invest time and money in such an intangible service. It is much easier for us to charge and for patients to pay for tangible products such as crowns, fillings, dental implants etc. Things they can see or touch. Patients may feel reluctant to pay for something with no obvious and immediate gain. This must change!

This change will come most effectively through the dental profession and we must be prepared to charge appropriately for it. Firstly we must believe in it. I think it has been the fault of the profession and the payment system we have worked under for the relegation of preventive care to the dusty cellars. We must alter our approach and become enthusiastic about it. We must then transfer the enthusiasm to our patients. They must emotionally tie into the fact that it is better to avoid dental disease. We must change their behaviour, after we have first changed our own. Patients have to become partners in their oral health care.

So what does preventive dentistry involve? It is multi-factorial. Paradoxically it includes interventive care as well as providing care that will result in less or no treatment. Paradoxically by instituting thorough preventive care we can increase the volume of more advanced interceptive care that will further benefit patients. This care will be based on sound foundations.

The delivery of preventive care involves clinical skills, business skills and social skills. We must learn these skills so that they become subconscious and routine.

Although some of the ideas I articulate may seem a bit unusual I suppose I am trying to open up ideas and allow creative thought. The articles will go where the mood takes.

At all times the thoughts and ideas will revolve around the central theme of better preventive care for patients. The eye of the storm is prevention.

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