Professional Treatment Versus Self Treatment


Carl T. Grove, D. D. S.


                The editors of Nutrition and Dental Health have presented to the dental profession important contributions in the field of dietary correction, health maintenance and preventive dentistry procedures.

In the development of preventive measures, oral hygiene should not be overlooked or slighted. Without it, other forms of treatment are doomed to failure. Filth breeds disease, even in healthy surroundings and, as we all know, the mouth is very prone to become filthy if we disregard the importance of oral hygiene.

The majority of American people have developed a sense of pride that urges them to maintain personal cleanliness, however, peculiar as it may seem, oral cleanliness is not always included on the personal toilet. We have all experienced surprise at the unsanitary conditions in mouths of those persons one would expect to find immaculate.

While dentists recognize the value of explaining to patients the necessity of proper mouth care, they often neglect this procedure for one reason or another. This neglect often leads the patient to believe that routine mouth hygiene is not an absolute necessity and laxity creeps in.

Lack of emphasis on home care of the mouth is often due to the fact that dentist, for some obscure reason, will not commit themselves on details concerning this treatment. This side stepping is done in contradiction to a definite eagerness on the part of the patient to obtain knowledge on this subject.

It is a universal experience to have a patient asks the dentist how he may acquire a more healthy mouth. “What can I use habitually that will keep my mouth clean, and how shall I use it?” the answer is too often, “use anything you choose in the manner you are accustomed.”

Consider the effect this indifferent attitude has on the patient. He at once assumes that the whole procedure is of minor importance, that the dentist does not consider oral hygiene a means to mouth health and that his mouth is destined to ruin or health by some predetermined force over which no one can control. The emphasis on the value of dental service and dental education is immediately diminished.

Both dentists and physicians are trained to advice patients definitely on all matters pertaining to their health. It is the custom with physicians to give this advice with dentists it is not. A dentist is well qualified to determine the value of the different agents at his command. It is the patient’s desire that he state his choice and by so doing impress upon his patient that he has given thought to the case, has a definite method of treatment, and an interest in the health of his patient.

To neglect advising definitely leaves the patient a victim of self treatment, often choosing methods and products that are inefficient and sometimes harmful.

It is always advisable to tell the patient specifically what agents to use, so that in procuring these agents he will be guided by professional opinion rather than by salesmanship of clerks. By so doing, the patient will come to regard his appointment with the dentist of greater value.