Make Your Dentist Your Partner
Have you ever walked out of a dentist's office wishing you had asked the dentist or the staff something? Or, maybe you didn't understand something the dentist said, or something the orthodontist told you about your child's oral health.
One of the most important things you can do to ensure great oral health care is to develop a good relationship with your dentist. You'll be more relaxed when you realize you can ask any question of the dentist or the staff.1 This includes your queries about treatment, pain, and cosmetic dentistry.2
Understand the Problem
A good initial question to ask is whether or not there is a problem. If there is a problem, make sure you understand it and its implications.2
For instance, you should ask about the implications should you allow the problem to go untreated.2 And you should ask what treatment options are available for your problem.1,2 It helps to write down your questions at home and take notes when talking with your dentist.2 This helps ensure that you and your dentist are on the same page.
Seeing a Specialist
Some problems call for a specialist. Your regular dentist can tell you whom he/she recommends and why.3 Different specialists raise different questions. If you or your child sees an orthodontist, for instance, you will want to ask how long treatment is likely to take.3 You can expect a comprehensive treatment plan to last 18 to 30 months.4
Parents should know the questions that braces raise among children. Children are interested in how braces feel, length of treatment, and what they will look like.5
What if you are facing oral surgery? You might ask the surgeon about the type of anesthesia he/she will use for your procedure, or which reconstruction methods are available in your case.6
It is always wise to ask any specialist about options for any type of surgery, healing time, and your chances for a good result.2,6 If a second opinion might make you more comfortable with a procedure, your dentist is a good source of advice.2
1 “Complaints/Resolving Disputes (You & Your Dentist: FAQ): Your Relationship with Your Dentist.” American Dental Association. http://ada.org/2626.aspx Accessed 2010.
2 “Complaints/Resolving Disputes (You and Your Dentist: FAQ).” American Dental Association. http://www.ada.org/2626.aspxAccessed 2010.
3 “Braces and Orthodontics: Frequently Asked Questions.” American Dental Association. http://www.ada.org/3061.aspx?currentTab=1 Accessed 2010.
4 “Today's Orthodontic Treatment” American Association of Orthodontists. www.braces.org/learn/Straight-teeth-are-healthy-teeth.cfm Accessed 2010.
5 “Orthodontics: Braces and More” Columbia University College of Dental Medicine. May 5, 2010. www.simplestepsdental.com/SS/ihtSS/r.WSIHW000/st.32226/t.31911/pr.3.html Accessed 2010.
6 “Treatments and Procedures” American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS). www.aaoms.org/treatments.php Accessed 2010.