Dental Articles

Have You Failed To Educate Your Patients?

By Dr. Deborah Marynak

This has been on my mind off and on for so long, I decided I’d just put it out there. Has the Dental Profession done everything possible to educate patients in the prevention of disease? I don’t think so. I don’t recall receiving any coaching as a child, adolescent or teenager. I went to the Dentist regularly, got my teeth cleaned, fillings and braces, but I don’t remember ever having a serious conversation about Dental disease/health.

Now I realize that was a very long time ago, but I’m not seeing any improvement in the Dental IQ of patients today. Yet we spend millions of dollars in this country on government assisted dental treatment, basically mopping up the mess instead of trying to prevent the spill in the first place.

When an emergency patient presents in pain and doesn’t understand the pain is from an infection caused by bacteria, I feel like we’ve failed. When a patient presents with a toothache, treatment planned three years ago as a simple filling, did he expect it to go away? He said he’d cut back on sugar, started taking herbs and vitamins and a friend looked at his tooth reporting it had “healed”.

Whoa...this is 2018 people, really? These were adults! Did they crawl out from under a rock? Whatever!... in dentistry ignorance is not bliss; it’s painful and expensive. I used to tell my patients if they didn’t floss, I didn’t care. It just meant I’d go on an extra vacation, buy a new car or flaunt a new wardrobe. Let’s be serious…no amount of rinsing your mouth with coconut oil will heal anything.

We teach children how to bathe themselves, wash their hair and wipe their behind…why don’t we teach them how to clean their mouth? Why? Very few adults even know how to properly clean their mouths and we all know that most patients are lazy. The only way to combat laziness is to give them the grossest details of oral disease you can. Another effective technique is to hit them in the wallet.

It’s our job and we’re the professionals: just telling them to brush and floss more isn’t good enough. Get them thinking; give them a long drawn out scenario of what happens over time. It’s not a’s just a kick in the pants. I like what a colleague told me: Dentistry is not expensive, but neglect is.

“I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework.”

- Lily Tomlin as Edith Ann