I saw a patient one Sunday for over 2 hours trying to undo what was done to three of his teeth. It made me think a lot about the disconnect between what he was told, what was done, and how it was done. He fell for the marketing words, but the philosophy and technology that should have been there were absent.
I have spoken time and time again to patients, other dentists, and audiences that a spatula does not make a chef and a scalpel does not make a surgeon. Most people think of a dentist as someone who fills cavities and most of the time that is what they get. I have been very blessed to have one of the most state of the art practices. But the equipment does not deliver dental services, people do. I believe the most important aspect of delivering “state of the art” dental care is a philosophy of patient care backed by education, skill, and judgment. I firmly believe that one pillar of patient care is looking at the patient as a living soul, not just a mouth. Another pillar is the understanding that healing is a combination of “mind, body, spirit,” not just fixing a tooth. Another pillar is the goal of trying to improve the quality of a person’s life.
Dentistry should not be about just fixing a broken tooth. It should be about what caused the tooth to break. Paramount should be the process of integrating other health issues related to the oral cavity into an individualized treatment plan. In health care, we all want our doctors to use the best equipment, that’s a given. But more importantly, we want our doctors to be thinking about an integrated whole-body approach to care. And we want them to proceed on a road that is non-toxic, gentle, and safe.