Dentistry today is going through a transformation brought about by rapid changes in technology. The face of dentistry also is changing due to outside control by insurance companies and governmental regulations.
To be successful in today’s environment, the modern dentist must be a master of both art and science in his/her dental practice. The demands of cosmetic dentistry require an artist’s touch for optimal appearance of a patient’s smile. However, even with all the advances in new adhesives and tooth-colored bonding materials, the dentist must have a scientist’s understanding of the underlying gum and tooth structure.
While a majority of dentists still use mercury amalgam as the material of choice for fillings, a growing segment of the population is demanding that their teeth be restored with the new tooth-colored composite materials. These newer materials are as hard as tooth enamel, but they require special training to apply.
Dentistry is like other industries in that prices and services vary greatly among dental offices. Some of these differences can be understood better if we realize that each dental office has its own unique way of practicing dentistry. For example, it is more costly and takes more time and training for a dentist to use the newer composite materials than to use mercury amalgam as a dental filling. Consequently, the fees can be considerably higher to have your teeth restored with the newer composites.
Prices can vary greatly among dentists who use the newer composites exclusively. These price differences can result from the cost of the composites used and from the skill level of the dentist. There are a number of composites available and they vary in cost and performance.
Dentists who use composites and attend special workshops acquire additional training in the skills needed to apply the material to the tooth. Not all dentists have trained as intently at applying the composites, just as all artists are not equally trained at painting a sunset. Those with greater skills can, and often do, charge a higher price for their services.
All of the variables in dentistry make it difficult to compare one dentist to another. If price is your only criterion, then it is a simple matter to pick the lowest-priced dentist. However, given the importance of teeth to your looks and health, price is not the most important criterion. It becomes apparent that the skills of the dentist and his/her mastery of the art and science of dental work are more important than price.
Comparing dentists is like comparing auto mechanics. Not only is the original diagnosis of the problem critical, but the actual repair must be done with skill and knowledge. A good mechanic can charge more than others for the same work, but he will attract a loyal following because he has earned their trust, his quality is consistent, and he stands behind his work.
Charles E. Warlick, Jr., D.D.S.