It doesn’t matter if it is called aesthetic dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, restorative dentistry, or even elective dentistry, in the past few years the talk about, and demand for this type of service has exploded.
Television talk-shows, Internet pop-ups, advertising for over-the-counter products in every media have raised the awareness of the general public to this very achievable method for improving the appearance of their smiles.
With this greater awareness has come greater consumer demand, and for the dental practitioner the greater possibility for professional satisfaction and financial reward. The downside is that all elective procedures have built-in risk factors.
These risks must be part of the dentist/patient dialogue and play a significant role in the patient assessment process. The fact that failures occasionally occur must not be ignored, but neither should this mean that they should be acceptable.
Some in the dental profession, it must be said, are not always as thorough or as consistent with issues of informed consent as they should be.
Informed consent is an imperative when elective dentistry is under consideration. An article in Inside Dentistry [2007;3(8)] made the observation that the patient should actually be in charge of his or her own care.
To be able to do this, however, the patient must have their current dental conditions fully explained in easily understood language as well as being fully informed of all treatment modalities; including the possible effects, both good and bad. Of great importance is for a practitioner to assess whether the patient fully understands and whether they are able to make a proper decision.
Treatment planning should start with the most conservative option and, as needed, advance to include more invasive options. This planning must be communicated in a clear and detailed manner to include possible risks, immediate and long-term.
It is not enough that this explanation be communicated to the patient orally; a standard legal form is a necessity, as is the patient’s signature on that form signifying understanding and approval of the procedure.
With all of this said, it should not be forgotten the ultimate responsibility for patient care rests, as it must, with the professional dental practitioner.
If you have any questions, or concerns, we’re available on Twitter and Facebook:
Image courtesy of of: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=1152