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My Favorite Dentist!, Issue #001 -- Want to Minimize your Dental Treatment? Keep Your Dentist.
September 27, 2011

Dental Cavities and New Dentists

Studies have shown that when people see a new dentist for the first time, significantly more dental cavities and recommended treatment is diagnosed. Without any previous records, dentists will normally elect to treat everything that looks suspicious.

When you go to the same dentist on a consistent basis for a number of years, the dentist has the opportunity to get to know you and your habits and has a series of radiographs or dental xrays to see how your dental health is progressing. When something looks suspicious on an xray, if prior dental xrays and records are available to consult sometimes it is determined that treatment is not needed. On the other hand, if no prior records are available, as is most often the case when you see a new dentist, they will most often choose to err on the side of caution and recommend treatment.

It definitely is better to treat dental problems early before they become bigger problems, but research has also shown that early or incipient dental cavities can arrest. Also, a lesion around a root of a tooth could mean that the tooth needs a root canal, but without previous dental xrays, how is your new dentist to know if the lesion is getting bigger, smaller, or has been there for many years?

Most people tend to see providers that accept their dental insurance rather than seeing who they want, and almost every time you change jobs (or sometimes even if you have the same job), your dental insurance changes. If you change dentists every time your insurance changes, you are more likely to have new treatment diagnosed each time.

The other factor is if ten different dentists do an exam on the same person, you are likely to get ten different treatment plans. Not that one or another is necessarily wrong, but dentists do have different philosophies or have been trained in different areas, so they will likely recommend different treatment. Also, not all dentists have been trained in the same procedures and what works for one person does not always work for another.

The bottom line is if you want continuity in your dental treatment and do not wish to be surprised with new work being needed whenever you see a different dentist, try to bring duplicates of your previous dental xrays and records to your new dentist appointment and take the time to explain your dental history to your new dentist. Any information will help, such as if you've had recent work done or have work you still need to have completed.

After your visit if you still have questions regarding your recommended treatment you can always seek a second opinion or consult your previous dentist. If you want to continue to see the same dentist even if your dental insurance changes, sometimes offices will make arrangements help make that happen and keep you happy.

If you haven't visited us in awhile, we have continued to add and update our pictures and content. Please feel free to email us with any feedback, and definitely keep the questions coming!

Dr. Gary

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