The ethics of aesthetics, Part 3 – The trouble with selling

Cosmetic dentistry’s rise to public awareness carries a delicate question about ‘selling.’

As we established ealier, the private dentist must operate as a business, and will often use aesthetic dissatisfaction as the genesis of a treatment plan.

We also established that this is acceptable behaviour in today’s age of demand for aesthetic treatments.

However, we must be very wary of letting this situation, where the aesthetic is nearly considered a necessity for treatment, get in the way of patient care.

Asking if selling aesthetics lessens the emphasis on oral health is compounded by the fact that clinicians have an obligation to treat the whole person, not just their teeth.

This holistic approach, as it is known, may not always involve treating what has traditionally been defined as a physical problem or disease.

Recently, for example, Inside Dentistry reported cosmetic dentistry had reached an all-time high value among both mainstream consumers and regular dental patients.

This trend now suggests that the growth, profits, and attention that dentistry is experiencing will continue their upward climb. It must also be recognized that increased media and television attention to cosmetic dentistry exerts a great influence on these trends.

It must be remembered that what the inclusion or exclusion criteria are for the treatments being shown on television may not be properly understood by the average patient.

Patients can certainly push clinicians to offer certain services, but it is the clinician who has the knowledge as to what is safe and appropriate and what might do harm rather than good.

It is imperative that clinicians —remembering not to do no harm— should always regard the patient as a human being and a patient, never as a customer.

The ‘selling’ of a particular treatment should not ever take the place of sound clinical judgment and responsibility for the welfare of the patient.

A short-term smile design should never be made at the expense of the patient’s long-term health and well-being.

As ever, if you have anything to add to the discussion, feel free to leave a comment here, or get in touch on Biterite’s social media outlets:

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Image courtesy of: Ambro

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