Look Carefully at New Technology before You Start Treatment

Those of us who choose the leading edge in health care do so because of the word, “leading,” But the word, “edge,” may be more important to you.  An edge is sharp and unless used precisely, it can hurt.  An edge has nothing beyond it to return to.   And finally, an edge has no base, and in this case, no base of experience.

So let’s look beyond the glitz of the newness. Maybe the tried and true is a better fit for you. But whether it’s the shiny new technology or the tried and true, there are more basic factors to look at.

  1. What is the level of competence of the person providing the service?
    Have you spoken to others who have had the service with that particular individual?  How carefully have you looked into that practitioner before you are enticed by the technology?
  1. What is the experience base of that person in that technology?
    Some of us are more experienced at some procedures than others. It’s perfectly okay to ask the practitioner who you are considering how much experience he or she has with that procedure and what are the results.
  1. What happens if things go wrong?
    The new technology may result in fantastic successes and applications that have never been available in the past. But there are also new challenges with that technology that could be discovered during your treatment.  What happens if the leading edge becomes too edgy for you?  Are you prepared for those challenges?
  1. Diagnosis is much more important than treatment technology.
    We are all enamored with the treatment itself, the new gadget, the micro-micro instrument.  But the secret to successful treatment is not necessarily the gadget, it is the diagnostic process.  The gadget may be great, but if the thought process doesn’t cut it, neither will the gadget.
  1. A treatment plan is often more important than the treatment itself.
    We can talk in dentistry about the crown, the bridge, the root canal, or the implant.  But how does that treatment plan fit into your total mouth picture?  What will happen to the adjacent teeth?  What additional expectations and expenses does the doctor predict for the rest of the mouth?
  1. What is the condition of the body (and mind) of the person who is receiving the service and how willing is the person to improve that condition?
    Your success is not only treatment dependent, it’s also patient dependent.  We can repair the ravages of disease, but we can’t change the cause of the damage. That’s your job. We can advise you, but the bottom line is what you are going to change to help ensure treatment success.
  1. Are your expectations greater than what the practitioner can deliver?
    People sometimes expect more than we can deliver. Both the patient and the doctor should have clear communication before treatment starts so that both are happy at the end.  And if the doctor finds that he can’t deliver what the patient wants, then there may be a new technology just over the horizon that will work for you. But then you will be on the leading edge of technology again.  And you know how that goes.

Lee N. Sheldon, DMD