As an oral surgeon, I want to share with you questions that I often get asked many times. When I’m teaching dental students or teaching young surgeons they’ll ask me a very simple question: “Why do people go to the dentist or the oral surgeon?”
They’re always often surprised by my answer. I’ll tell them there are only four reasons why people go to the dentist or an oral surgeon. One reason people go to the dentist is because of pain. I hate to say it but many people put off routine dental care until they have pain and then they need that addressed.
The second reason people go to the general dentist is because of aesthetics. No one wants to walk around with a missing front tooth. It’s not anyone’s first choice by any means and we’re very concerned about that. In fact, if we look at the industry today, we live in a world where we all want straight teeth for ourselves and for our children and I think it’s absolutely admirable.
The third reason is that we can’t chew as well as we used to. In those situations, it’s because we’ve stopped being able to enjoy certain foods that we want to enjoy again or it’s become harder to eat. At that point, we need to talk to the dentist about what can we do to replace those teeth or what can we do to improve our ability to chew.
The last reason is peace of mind. Many of us go to the general dentist because we want to avoid any of those first three reasons. So, we’re willing to go and have our teeth cleaned and keep up with oral hygiene, talk about flossing and do all the things that we need to do to make sure that we can prevent the other three from occurring.
In my world, I’ll often tell people that if you can understand which one of those four reasons are driving your patients to come to see you then you can help guide them on what’s the best solution. There are multiple choices on how we can address their problem but it’s more important that we listen to our patients first so that we can make sure that our options are in alignment with what their desires are.