Suppose a friend of yours with a number of teeth damaged by disease or accident, goes to a number of dentists in turn. What will the dentists advise him? You can be very sure that the advice can range from a complete set of implant supported permanent dentures to a mere partial denture, or even, an advice to live with whatever healthy teeth your friend has. This is quite natural. Human judgement in the same matter varies. The most critical judgements are judgements in a court of law, where matters of life and death of the accused are decided. Are there not cases where a bench of judges hearing the case differ in their findings and awards? Assessments and recommendations by professionals in their field also vary similarly.
What are the reasons?
Dentists are just another qualified profession. They also suffer from human limitations- and significantly- to different extents. Dentists differ in inherent intelligence, education, experience, confidence, temperament, attitude and sincerity, diagnostic facilities, treatment facilities available, and momentary influences, etc. The customer differs also, in description, patience, temperament, desires, financial resources, and momentary influences. The dentist has to work to the satisfaction of the patient. Such a variety of factors is bound to produce a much wider variety of opinions and prescriptions. In the paragraphs below, we discuss these factors separately.
- Level of Education and Training
The level of training of a dentist matters. A given degree ensures that all trainees acquire a certain ability to diagnose and treat. A better qualified dentist, is likely to be more aware of pertinent factors, and may reach a different diagnosis for the same apparent symptoms.
- Inherent Intelligence
Every dentist possesses a different level of intelligence. Intelligence polishes the knowledge and skills obtained during training, and facilitates better decisions in diagnosis and during treatment. While one dentist may be very dexterous in various procedures the other may fumble in places.
- Differences in Training Philosophy
No doubt, dentists undergo rigorous training for many years before they can practice independently. However, the way each dentist diagnoses every patient, is dependent upon the way he or she was educated during their training. Some dentists are quite careful, and follow the principle of “maximum tooth conservative” while diagnosing patients and fabricating a treatment plan. This means that these dentists make sure minimal loss of natural tooth structure occurs during dental treatment. Other dentists are more “rigorous” in their approach, and would rather remove slightly excess of the natural tooth structure in attempts to prevent re-infection.
- The Trend of Holistic Dentistry
Some dentists around the world are now following the “holistic” approach to dental treatment, which basically involves the use of dental biomaterials that are not only safe inside the oral cavity, but they also do not cause any harmful effects on the rest of the human body. Differences in diagnoses among “conventional” and “holistic” dentists may often arise due to their different methods of solving dental problems.
- Different Diagnostic Facilities
If you visit dental practices around your locality, you will find that each practice has different diagnostic equipment. The quality and capability of these diagnostic machines matters deeply how a dentist can investigate the problem, and this can matter in resolving between two possible causes, and hence, deciding a treatment.
Just like training, experience also matters. A more experienced dentist is more likely to be aware of various possibilities than a dentist with equal qualifications and less experience. This again can cause a different diagnosis. Generally, the more experienced dentists are, the better are their diagnostic and therapeutic capabilities. But that is not always true!
- Attitude and Sincerity
Attitude of a person matters. It is unfortunate, but a fact of life that different persons have different attitude towards the same issue. Some dentists will take extra pains to reach the technically best conclusion. Others may take a rather simplistic view. Again, some will tend to prescribe a treatment without considering the cost. Others may consider the resources of the patient and honestly try to make a trade-off. There may be some, unfortunately, who will love the dollars coming their way. The fact is that everybody is working to earn as much as he or she can, and therefore, professional scruples may sometimes be compromised.
- Momentary Influences.
The current state of mind of the dentist as well as the patient may also have a minor influence. A tired dentist is more likely to take a summary decision, while a fresh and patient dentist may dig deeper and do a more thorough treatment job. Similarly, the apparent condition of the patient can also influence the decision of the dentist. A cool patient is likely to allow the dentist to make a better judgement, while a wailing, crying patient may switch the dentist into an emergency mode. The dentist may extract a tooth instead of going for a root canal treatment.
Just like we find both good and bad people in this world, we can also come across dentists with different attitudes and treatment philosophies. Therefore, whenever in doubt, it might be a good idea to go for a second, even a third opinion. After all, it’s a matter or dental and physical health, and you have every right to seek the best dental care for yourself and your family!