Who is the Best Dentist?

Let’s try a thought experiment:

Imagine that you are a well-educated middle class adult American. You are looking for a dentist. You know nothing about dentistry except what you see on television or have experienced in the past. You have two dental offices to choose from Dr. Adams and Dr. Baker. Both are convenient and have been recommended by a friend.

Doctor Adams: sends you an e-mail welcome and allows you to fill out forms online before your appointment.

Doctor Baker: calls and leaves a reminder message and hands you a clip board when you arrive for your appointment.

Doctor Adams: takes digital photos and x-rays which the dentist shows you that instant on a large monitor to help you understand your dental condition.

Doctor Baker: does not take photos and takes film x-rays which the doctor looks at when they show up at the end of the appointment.

Doctor Adams: prepares a crown and delivers it that same day as you wait.

Doctor Baker: prepares a crown, takes an impression, places a temporary and has you return in a few weeks to have the crown delivered.

Based on these experiences which office would you believe to be “the better dentist”.

It would be nice if patients judged us by the quality of the dentistry we deliver. But of course patients have no way to judge the marginal integrity of a restoration or the cleanliness of a root surface. So they judge us on easily observed superficial factors

It is possible that Dr. Baker is a better dentist than Dr. Adams. It is possible, but the patient will never figure it out.

Here is the kicker. Most likely Dr. Adams is in fact a better dentist. Dentists who take the time to keep up with the latest technology and up to date procedures are almost by definition better dentists.

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