Responsibilities of the Dental Patient

Written by Heather Siler

“There is nothing that the dentist can do which will overcome what the patient won't do” is a saying in dentistry that’s so very true. While your dentist can treat you with excellent clinical skills, what you do or don’t do at home every day will determine the outcome of your dental health. What are your responsibilities as a patient regarding the success of your treatment?

  1. First and foremost, make an appointment with your dentist and be seen on a regular basis. Many people are under the impression that they only need to be seen if they’re in pain when nothing could be further from the truth. Once discomfort is experienced, it can be too late to save the tooth. The best plan is to see your dentist for a cleaning and examination every six months or more frequently if it’s recommended. If your insurance only pays for a twice-yearly cleaning and exam and you’ve been advised by your dental team to be seen more frequently, please consider their suggestion.
  2. When you make an appointment, it’s important to keep it even if it becomes inconvenient. Time tends to get away from us, so if you have to miss an appointment, make another one as soon as possible.
  3. If restorative treatment becomes necessary, inquire about your options especially if the recommended treatment is out of your price range-even with insurance coverage. Sometimes, treatment can be done in stages as not to break the bank. If there’s only one choice of care and it’s outside of your budget, explore third-party financing options. There are several available, and many have decent interest rates and terms of service.
  4. Follow instructions set by your care team. Your dental professionals should provide short-term and long-term instructions concerning maintenance of your oral health. More than likely, suggestions will include American Dental Association approved devices such as power(electric) toothbrushes, floss, water flossers, interdental aids, mouthwash, and toothpaste.
  5. Once treatment is completed, it’s still important to visit your dental team twice per year or more if recommended to establish that your oral health is stable and doesn’t require further attention.

Dental professionals want nothing more than to keep their patients healthy and happy. Your relationship with them is paramount and if you’re not comfortable, seek an office where you feel you’re part of the family.