Your agreeing to any dental treatment is a fundamental part of the success of any smile makeover, whatever the procedure might be.
The consultation period with the clinic is an essential part of your journey towards enhancing your smile – whether it is with orthodontics, veneers, implants, or just a little teeth whitening – and, if you aren’t sure of all the facts, then you need to discuss these thoroughly with the treating clinician before any treatment begins.
During your consultation, there are a number of issues that need to be discussed with your dentist. These might include:
• Options for treatment – the good and the bad
• Why a particular treatment is necessary and appropriate for you
• The consequences, risks and benefits of the treatment he or she is proposing
• The likely prognosis
• The dentist’s recommended option
• The cost of the proposed treatment
• If treatment isn’t going ahead, what could happen
It’s important to be aware that giving consent to any dental procedure is a process and never just a one-off event. In fact, it is most likely to form part of the on-going communication between you and all members of the dental team involved in your care, from the clinic’s receptionist to the treating dentist. In a nutshell, you need to be kept informed every step of the way if you are going to achieve that new smile you’ve been longing for.
Initially, the dentist will need to carry out investigations and take a record of your medical history – this forms an important part of the dentist’s decision making with regards your suitability for treatment – so make sue you share every detail, even areas of your health you may not think relevant but could make a difference to the desired outcomes.
Sometimes, a dentist may not agree to carry out the treatment you want. If you are seeking teeth whitening but have serious gum disease, for example, the dentist may decide that you need to stabilise this before any bleaching is administered. Don’t be disheartened – any good dentist who tells you this has only has your best interests at heart.
Lots of treatments
You may also be offered a number of alternative treatment plans – and the dentist will explain all the choices available to you, together with the merits and disadvantages of each plan. Your dentist should offer a reason for a preferred plan if he or she has one.
One size does not fit all when it comes to orthodontics, for example, so if you’re seeking teeth straightening and were rather hoping for four months of a fast brace system to get that new straight smile, it may be that your wonky teeth are better suited to another form of braces and that they may take a little while longer to fall into line.
You also have a right to know if any lifestyle habits are likely to compromise treatment. For those of us who smoke, for example, the successful placing of dental implants is instantly put at risk. Some dentists will suggest smoking cessation advice before even considering this complex cosmetic procedure – and even then you may have to commit to an oral hygiene programme to stabilise the health of your teeth and gums before beginning treatment.
Essentially, you also need to understand what the overall price tag of your smile makeover is likely to be – including any costs of additional treatment. Sometimes procedures can take longer than anticipated – there is no exact way to measure how quickly teeth may be aligned with braces, for example – and where treatment is to be protracted, involved or expensive, it is worthwhile asking for a written explanation of the treatment, the time it will take, prognosis and costs.
Last minute questions
Be sure to take the opportunity to raise any queries before agreeing the treatment and making an appointment.
Essentially, if there is anything you do not understand, then ask! The language of dentistry is littered with technical words that mean little to us in the outside world. Nobody expects you to understand any dental ‘jargon’ so, if the clinician wanders into that area of unusual vocabulary, don’t be afraid to ask for a more simple and clear explanation.
And finally, be wary of statements such as, ‘your bleaching treatment will last for two years’ or ‘I guarantee you will have no problems’. A good cosmetic dentist will never make overblown claims, promises and assurances and you will only be disappointed by any outcomes that fail to live up to your expectations.
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