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How important is individualized dental care?
You’re probably already familiar with the rise in recent years of dental franchises that deal with high numbers of patients, often in an open-plan room with rows of dental chairs. On the surface, it may seem like there is no problem with this – after all, as long as you’re getting dental care, why does it matter?
The concern with these franchises is the possibility of an emphasis on quantity over quality. You may have seen a recent episode of Frontline, a documentary series on PBS, in which the concept of high-production dental franchises was investigated. The Frontline investigation brought up issues of the franchises operating almost like dental factories, with patients often not being seen by the same dentist twice, and therefore not having individualized care from a practitioner familiar with their case.
The Academy of General Dentistry has issued a response to the Frontline episode, expressing support for the findings that quantity-based high-production dental practices may not be the most beneficial solution to the issues of dental care in the United States. Many of these franchises utilize a quota system, whereby a certain number of major dental procedures have to be performed in order for the practice to survive. The concern, of course, is that this can lead to patients being advised to have more extensive and expensive dental work than may otherwise be recommended.
At our own dental practice, we wholeheartedly support the AGD’s position that personalized care is an essential component of optimal dental health, and that the quality of dental care should be emphasized over all else. It is important to have a dentist whom you trust, and who will become familiar with your situation so that a long-term relationship can be forged.
There are still many questions when it comes to the issues surrounding the costs of providing quality dental care versus the financial situation that many Americans find themselves in. In any case, the solutions that will work best in the long term will be those that keep the focus on individualized care that is tailored for each patient, along with efforts to increase education with regard to preventative oral practices. We are committed to always providing this personalized care, as it reflects the highest standard of dental treatment, and the best possible experience for our patients.