Overtreating, underexplaining: An ethical dilemma

The dentist uses multiple factors for deciding a treatment planWith regard to the treatment plan and the materials used, what is considered best for the patient may also be something requiring ethical scrutiny.

It may also be suggested that over – or under – treatment raises ethical issues of procedures and the available alternatives.

There’s no question the dentist and patient need to sit down and discuss their options, the risks that come with each procedure, how long they expect the treatment to last, and the potential for retreatment.

When a treatment plan is based on the patient’s concerns, periodontal health, tooth structure and health, for example, a significant increase in the amount of treatment might be necessary to fulfil of those requirements.

Those components, combined, are all part of the whole system which must be taken into consideration by the dentist when talking about treatment and possible retreatment.

As has been stated previously, a dentist is obligated to present the patient with a treatment plan developed upon clinical, functional, and aesthetic needs. The plan should, ultimately, achieve the objectives of both patient and dentist, including those recommendations to which the clinician knows the patient may be opposed.

The plan can, of course, be modified depending upon what the patient is able to afford or willing to undergo.

It may be that another dentist has told the patient that orthodontics is required, but the patient says they are not willing to have braces. If after examining the patient it is found that an orthodontic component is needed, the current clinician should strongly recommend a consult with an orthodontist.

They should make this recommendation even though the patient doesn’t want an orthodontic treatment, and in addition to recommending alternative, or more affordable, options wherever possible.

In the coming weeks, Biterite will be talking more about treatment and communication. If you have anything to add to the debate, feel free to leave a comment here or find us on our social media outlets:

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