Kitchener-Waterloo has a wonderful collection of talented Dentists and Dental Specialists. The standard of care in our region is very high. When you have such a high standard of care, the average dental treatment you receive is very good. So what, then, is likely to make one dentist seem better to you compared to another dentist? The answer, in my opinion, is communication and the Dentist’s philosophy. And I’ll share a secret with you: the best dentist in Kitchener for one person is probably not the best dentist for another.
Now, you can do the typical “dentist near me” search on Google but I think the approach I suggest below will give you a better result most of the time.
Choosing Your Best Dentist: Communication
Most people who remember going to a Dentist 40 years ago will remember their visits like this: “my Dentist told me what I needed and then we did that”. Over the past few decades, the model of care has really changed. Dentist now are trained to provide all treatment options, costs, pros & cons, timelines, etc., and then support the patient in their final decision. It’s a great model of care because it puts more control and autonomy in the hands of the patient.
I believe most people today would respond well to this treatment model and increased communication. However, some patients might not. I still encounter a few patients each month who encourage me to tell them what to do. In other cases, a very anxious or phobic patient may feel overwhelmed by too many details or options. So, the best dentist in Kitchener is not the same individual for every patient.
How, then, do you find out about a Dentist’s communication style? Book a meet & greet appointment at their office. Take a few dental concerns with you to coax the Dentist into putting their communication style on full display!
Choosing Your Best Dentist: Treatment Philosophy (We’re Not All The Same!)
I have heard people say: “A dentist is a dentist is a dentist”. I think we hope for standardization in many fields, especially in healthcare, but it’s not the case. And it simply can’t be the case. Humans are shaped by their past experiences. So, too, are Dentists. A Dentist that sees a particular solution fail more often compared to another Dentist, will be less likely to recommend that particular treatment. We try our best to take all factors into account when giving a treatment prognosis, or likelihood of success. But, again, every Dentist sees a different collection of treatment outcomes as their career progresses, and it shapes them.
Now, you might wonder, “well how can I tell these differences when I’m looking for a good Dentist?”. And, of course, the answer is that you can’t. However, there are other differences in treatment philosophy that you can glean from asking a few strategic questions. If you ask the right questions, you can tell if a Dentist is likely to take a conservative or minimally invasive approach to dental care or if they are more “treatment-oriented”.
I want to give you an example to start with. Take a patient who is missing a single tooth. Does this patient need to have the tooth replaced with an implant or dental bridge? You might be surprised to hear that many Dentists would say “yes” but some would say “no”. There are Dentist geared toward keeping your teeth in an ideal state or “as close to perfect as possible”. But there are other Dentists that ask: “are you happy with your smile and are you able to function and eat properly”. Which Dentist would you prefer? Which one would you think to be your Best Dentist in Kitchener?
As a Dentist, I can tell you that missing a single tooth will not cause any major adverse health effects over time. If there are teeth behind the missing tooth, they can tip into the space slowly over time affecting your bite. But in terms of breaking more teeth in future or being more susceptible to infection, the single missing tooth probably has no effect on the likelihood of these things occurring.
In another example, a young adult (see picture above) has some slightly misaligned teeth. Should she undergo orthodontic treatment to straighten her teeth? Some Dentists would say “yes” most of the time. Others would ask: “are you happy with your smile?”. And some Dentists wouldn’t even broach the subject, assuming instead that a patient will bring up the alignment of their teeth if they feel it is a problem. Can you see how each of these groups would have different rates of patients undergoing treatment?
So, again, book a meet & greet consult with a candidate Dentist and then use a few strategic probing questions to learn more about their treatment philosophy. Ask as if you are considering treatment. If you have slightly crowded teeth, ask: “would you recommend orthodontic treatment?” Don’t ask “what can be done?” because then they will simply tell you about orthodontic treatment and that’s not what you are looking to find out about. You want to know how commonly they recommend treatment and, especially, elective treatment.
You can also ask something like “should I get veneers to make my teeth brighter?”. See what they say. When a patient asks me this question, I answer it with another question: “I like how your teeth look, but do you want brighter teeth?”. I feel it is not my place to appraise the beauty of a patient’s smile. But, if they want something changed esthetically and they don’t smile because of it, I am happy to discuss options with them.
Now, some patients don’t like that I won’t give them an answer about their smile or the brightness of their teeth. They think I’m the expert and I should be able to give them an answer. These patients would probably prefer a “treatment-oriented” Dentist. I have no problem intervening to treat dental decay or an abscessed tooth. Those are functional problems that must be treated to maintain proper health. But judging a person’s smile is not something I feel comfortable with. That’s just me.
Now, there are others like me and there are others not like me. And, most importantly, neither group is wrong. Finding your best Dentist in Kitchener entails thinking about which care philosophy you prefer and then pursuing a Dentist who practices that philosophy. It may take you some time and a few meet & greet appointments, but it’s definitely not hard to do if you know the right questions to ask.
If you are looking for a new Dentist in Kitchener, take some time to think about what you appreciate in a care provider. Don’t hesitate to reach out to multiple clinics and learn about their treatment philosophy. Learn about what they bring to the table. Meet & greet consults are a great way to engage with a candidate Dentist and learn more about their dental care approach. If you devote some time to making your decision and use the tips I have included above, you are likely to enjoy a successful result!