In the past few decades, the practice of dentistry, on a parallel with other professional fields, has seen changes in marketing products and services to patients. More than ever, the public may come across advertising for discount specials.
When prospective new patients visit the dental firm for their special offers, they might leave with treatment plans filled with pricey recommendations. Sometimes, these recommended treatments are unnecessary.
The takeaway from this all-too-frequent story? We'd have to say: Stick with your trusted dental practice.
Why Does Overdiagnosis Happen?
Perhaps the major factor pertains to insurance coverage. Dental insurance isn't carried by as many people as it was even a decade back. More people work part-time. Fewer companies prioritize dental coverage in their benefits packages.
In this context, the quest for a viable baseline workload may cause dental groups to feel pressure to overdiagnose and overtreat. Additionally, some corporate dental offices set production goals. For obvious reasons, this becomes stressful. And it can come into conflict with the patients' own interests.
Science Times, the New York Times and others have reported on the rise of certain diagnoses which can be red flags. Perhaps you're suddenly having frequent fillings after years of great oral health. “Microcavities” could be the reason — and many of these don't need to be treated with fillings.
High-resolution cavity-detection technology is helping dental offices find small abnormalities that could develop into cavities. But these findings might really just call for keeping an eye on the issues.
And adopting techniques for better brushing and flossing — or even a change in toothpaste — can help bring your teeth back into great shape.
In Diagnosis, What Ethics Provisions Should Dentists Follow?
You might ask: Aren't dentists and, by extension, their marketing methods, bound by a sense of professional responsibility?
A core principle of the American Dental Association's Code of Professional Conduct is Veracity (truthfulness). Dental professionals have a duty of trustworthiness in their relationships with clients. A dentist must always convey information forthrightly, avoiding deception or overstatements. A dentist must also maintain a vital trait — the ADA Code of Professional Conduct names it intellectual integrity.
The Code has a specific section on unnecessary services. It flatly states that a dentist who recommends and carries out unneeded work is involved in unethical conduct. The ethical obligation to avoid such conduct applies no matter what kind of practice or contractual arrangements the dentist might work under.
Again, the patient's interests are paramount.
At Comeaux Dental Group, We Never Compromise Our Professional Responsibility
“I felt like I was being serviced by friends and family," one of our patient-reviewers recently wrote, as Comeaux is both "upfront" and "informative" when exploring care options and discussing our patients' progress.
This is what adhering to professional responsibility means. To us, you are always friends and family.
Call 281.419.0333 to visit us in The Woodlands OR to visit our Spring office, call 281.419.3194. Or let us help you online with your next appointment.