Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Disagreeing With A Diagnosis - A New Perspective

Quite often we field phone calls from members who would like to change their dentist because they disagree with a diagnosis. Often times, the perception is that the dentist is "over-diagnosing" on the treatment plan to make more money. Now I can assure you that 98% of the time that is not the case.

As I have said in multiple blogs before this one, the objective of a treatment plan is to identify everything that needs to be done to get you in "optimal dental health". What is needed to accomplish that is based on a professional diagnosis from a dentist. However, every dentist is different. One dentist may identify something that one did not. Another one may have training or access to new technology that the other one didn't. Another dentist may be able to come up with another option than what the other dentist offered. All of these are the reason why getting a second opinion is often recommended by our office.

Regardless, it in no way means that one dentist is wrong or right. This usually goes way beyond wrong or right. How a dentist diagnoses is often dependent on how/where they were trained. Some dental colleges have a more aggressive diagnostic curriculum as others have a more conservative diagnostic curriculum. Depending on which curriculum the school that your dentist went to had, depends on which type of diagnosis you may get.

Although an aggressive diagnostic treatment plan may be overwhelming to patient, it is not a bad thing. It focuses on the long term solution to your dental problems with more of a restorative style of treatment. For example, you may be recommended to go ahead and do the root canal and crown now and not delay the inevitable by dealing with a filling. The crown is built to last and your problem will be solved for the long term.

A conservative diagnostic treatment plan is not a bad thing either. It focuses on trying more to save the original teeth that you have, rather than replace it with a crown or something else, until that is really needed. For example, you may be recommend to get a filling for now, and deal with the crown later if/when the time comes.

(**Disclaimer: The above was just an example for purposes of getting a point across. In no way it is intended to insinuate that a dentist that recommends a crown is aggressive in diagnosis or that one that recommends a filling is conservative. Everyone's mouth is difference and the diagnosis will be different for everyone.)

Like I said, it is not that either one of these dentist is wrong or right, or that one is a better dentist than the other. It simply comes down to how they were taught to diagnose your treatment. It does not mean that aggressive diagnostic dentist is trying to rip you off by over diagnosing (which is the common misconception by patients). It does not mean that the conservative dentist is under diagnosing and missing things that need to be done (which is another common misconception by patients)

In fact, an aggressive treatment may cost you more money now, but can save you a lot of money in the future. However, on the flip side of things, the conservative diagnosis treatment will save you money now, but could cost you more in the future.

We commonly recommend and encourage patients to obtain a 2nd opinion when concerned about the particular diagnosis that they are given, prior to just changing to another dentist based solely on a diagnostic result.

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