Dentists Can Teach as Well as Heal

Dissemination of Knowledge, an Adjunct to Good Practice

By Carl T. Grove, D.D.S.

                Of all factors to be considered in the daily problem of the dentist in relation to his patients, the factor of health should, without doubt, receive the greatest attention, as being most important in the promotion of dentistry to higher levels.

This phase of the profession has been stressed by outstanding men for many years yet for lack of conviction it requires frequent repetition. Dentists do not discuss dental health with their patients as often s they should. Instead of it being a subject of first consideration in their practice it is the last and most neglected, despite the fact that there are few cases presented to them for treatment that neglected prophylaxis and nutrition has not been a contributing factor.

Dentistry is considered a health service by the general public, why then should not the dentist consider it so? To acquire and maintain such a position, we should strive to overcome much of our present indifference and assume an attitude of interest and helpfulness particularly to inquiring patients on the subject of home care and other perplexing dental health problems. This is essential both in the interest of patients and in aiding to build up faith in the public as to our position as a healthy profession.

Consider the reaction of a dentist, for instance, if he entered a dental supply house to obtain information about the type of material to use in a specific restorative case and was told that it did not matter, one was as good as another. Most likely the dentist would feel that the importance of expert advice was greatly exaggerated in his opinion and that quality and reliability had little place in dental service.

Patients experience a much greater reaction indifferent responses to their inquiries. Most people recognize and appreciate expert advice and personal interest.

We all have observed how eager patients are for knowledge on ways and means for the preservation of their teeth. We have also observed the value they attach to any information and advice they receive from their dentist.

“Changes in the work and outlook of medical men were referred to by Lord Dawson of Penn when speaking at Guy’s Hospital Medical School, (London) last month. The problem of rearing a fit race transcended in importance all other domestic questions, and nothing was widening the doctor’s horizon more than the development of preventive medicine. Doctors no longer only looked after a cloistered class of sick people withdrawn from the community; ———-Lord Dawson suggested that the doctor would come more and more to have a teaching function, the teaching of how to keep well, and the medical and teaching professions were likely to come closer and closer together.”

Prophylactic and nutritional recommendations constitute a health service valuable to patients and advantageous to the individual dentist and to the profession as a whole. This service is not only a duty of every dental practitioner but is a most effective practice builder. It builds confidence because the patient is assured not only of efficient treatment but of personal interest in his case and in his health welfare.

All advancement in health welfare of the people has come through education on prevention of disease. This education has been made possible largely by the advice and health information imparted to the patient by physicians. How can dentistry overlook this opportunity to give greater dental health treatment to the patient public?

Dentists should give a little serious thought to this question and make up their own minds as to what procedure they can advise patients to follow, and when the opportunity arises advise what to use, but in no case give the impression that it does not matter. If no remedy on the market meets with your approval, rather than create a feeling of indifference have one made up at your local druggist.