No two dental practices are alike.
Each takes on the characteristics of the practitioner who owns it. The personality of the owner is probably the key to how that office “feels” when you walk in the door of that dental practice. Some practices may feel “clinical and efficient”, while others feel somewhat more comfortable. The dentist’s personality is reflected in his or her treatment preferences as well. The fact that different dentists will suggest different plans to treat your condition does not necessarily mean that one plan is better than another. Most dentists will suggest what they feel to be the very best plan for any given patient. The differences between the treatment suggested by one dentist and that of another reflects that dentist’s preferences based on his or her skill level, training, and experience.
It is important to remember that there are numerous ways to treat the same situation, and it is important for the dentist to develop a customized treatment plan for each patient’s specific situation, taking into account the severity and presence of disease and the expectations of the patient. A major part of the decision-making process may be financial, but the dentist has an ethical responsibility to present all reasonable treatment options to the patient without pre-judging their ability to pay for treatment. The dentist should provide adequate information to the patient for them to make a decision about his or her own care. It is the patient’s responsibility to decide which treatment best suits his or her budget and make an educated decision about the choice selected, understanding the risks and benefits of selecting one treatment over another.
Think of treatment plans like various models of cars offered by different dealers. All of the models are new and will work reasonably well out of the lot. The higher end models, however, have some advantages not found in the less expensive models. Some options add years to the life of the car. Some add to the appearance and enjoyment of driving it.
Dental treatment plans are like that too. Saving a badly damaged tooth with a root canal and a crown may preserve it for a long time, but there is a greater financial investment up front than what may appear at the onset to be less expensive options, like a large filling or extraction. In the long run, however, “less expensive” alternative treatments may end up costing a great deal more than ideal treatment at the onset. For instance, replacing a missing tooth to stop problems with the bite and TMJ may require a fixed bridge, an implant, or a removable partial denture.
All dentists who have graduated from an accredited dental school should be technically competent to perform any procedure that they personally feel comfortable performing. But it is important to remember that each one is an individual, and no two dentists can perform exactly the same technical procedure in exactly the same way. As a result, fees vary greatly for the same procedures between dentists.
Most dental practices roughly fall into one of four categories:
Type I dental practices are usually geared toward providing short-term and “emergency” treatment; treatment plans are usually geared toward providing a basic prognosis of 1-5 years and often are usually insurance-company driven, providing very little if any “high-end” dental procedures like crowns and implants.
Type II practices are usually family-based practices that serve a high-number of people and may also be insurance-company driven; treatment plans are usually geared toward an outcome of 1-5 years, but usually encompass some higher end procedures like single crowns. It would not be uncommon for a Type I or II dentist to be a “provider” dentist in a managed healthcare program, like an HMO or PPO; these practices are often very busy because they have to be for a dentist to profit from lower-fee services.
Type III practices are usually not insurance-based and focus on providing lifetime dental care for families and adults; these practices usually provide multiple treatment options for their patients and depend on their patients to help their practices grow through direct referrals.
Type IV practices are high-end, elite, spa-like practices that provide advanced cosmetic and reconstructive care designed to last as long as technology will allow; these practices are all exclusively fee-for-service and require extreme commitment to professional achievement by the dentist.
Dr. Huff’s practice is unique in that it is between a Type III and IV.
Through our tour-of-your-mouth approach that encourages collaboration between the dentist and the patient, appropriate customized treatment plans are developed with each patient who elects to go through our comprehensive examination process. Our job is to educate our patients so that they can make their own decisions about care. We are willing to assist our patients with their insurance issues, but we do not allow insurance companies to dictate care for our patients.
Through honesty and continuing development of our professional competency through continuing education, we strive to provide the very best care possible to a wide range of people of all ages.