Kurt Bender DDS
Doctor's Tooth Cents
An editorial column dealing with various topics/concerns associated with the practice of Dentistry (updated periodically).
Treatment Philosophy - A Conservative a Approach
As a third generation practitioner, I've been very fortunate to not only learn from my own experiences, but to follow the advice of my father, who practiced dentistry for over 40 years. In dental school, students are taught to make things last. My father shared in this philosophy, and built a very successful practice around treating people right. I couldn't agree more with his approach, and have made every effort to incorporate these types of values into the treatment of my own patients. I believe that patients should be truly informed in making treatment decisions. and have all viable options discussed. I'm very confident in my recommendations, as I know what works, and what does not. I'm a strong proponent for both functional and long lasting restorations. There are a growing number of practitioners that are getting lost in society's demand for the "latest and greatest", while quality takes a backseat. Those dentist's, in my opinion, are setting the profession back by supporting the idea that newer is always better. In reality, a fair share of the latest and greatest doesn't last nearly as long, and costs more! Ironically, the most functional restoration is often times the best value. In other words, more often than not, less expensive restorations last the longest. It's my job to identify the new technologies that work, as well as those that do not. Don't get me wrong. I'm not opposed to new technology. It's quite the contrary. Overall, innovation drives the profession. I just want to be confident something works well before incorporating it into my treatment recommendations. That said, I believe a candid conversation regarding "all" treatment options is prudent if one's goal is to treat people right!
The "Healthcare Business" (an oxymoron)
Healthcare and Business is like oil and water. They simply don't mix. Years ago, the two, were completely separated from one another. Today, unfortunately, that is not the case. As a healthcare professional; I still believe it's my job to put the needs of my patients first! I believe that's expected of all healthcare professionals. I'm not so sure, however, that everyone in health care subscribes to that philosophy.
Originally, the healthcare relationship was between two parties, the patient, and the Doctor. The healthcare dollar paid the doctor for helping the patient get well. Plain and simple. Today, there are so many parties vying for that same healthcare dollar, it's mind boggling. Insurance companies, Brokers, Salesmen, Suppliers, Hospitals, Maintenance organizations, Politicians, Unions, Bankers, Drug companies, Consultants. The list goes on and on. While I reluctantly accept this concept, it isn't without a number of frustrations. Between "aggressive" sales teams. societal pressures, and misinformation spread though social media, making decisions in our patient's best interests, can get "cloudy" at best. New products, for example, are marketed to generate revenue, rather than provide the best possible care. When "generating revenue" becomes the number one priority, patient care suffers! For this reason alone, I believe healthcare and business need to stay separated! There are far to many external influences affecting the delivery of quality healthcare. It's my job the ignore those pressures and do what I believe is best. At Bender Family Dentistry, our number one priority is our patients dental health. Period!
Prevention, Prevention, Prevention
As dentistry has evolved over the last century, we've made enormous steps forward in achieving the goal of keeping our teeth. Not so long ago, the Dentist's sole objective was to simply alleviate tooth pain. That's it!.. Later came minor restorative procedures, and eventually re-construction., but it wasn't until recently we've focused our efforts on the most important concept of all, Prevention. Today, the disease process in both hard tissues (teeth), and soft tissues (gums), is well understood. Yet, some practitioners still lag behind in taking the time to educate their patients, and stress the importance of disease prevention. In my practice, I've encouraged my hygienists to be proactive in both the treatment, and maintenance, of periodontal disease (gum disease). Educating our patients in the disease process, along with active treatment whenever indicated, is essential in achieving our goal of keeping our teeth for a lifetime. It's my belief that if the medical community truly focused their efforts on disease prevention, as we have in dentistry, we'd be a far healthier society, and healthcare costs could be contained. At Bender Family Dentistry, we're way ahead of the curve!
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