Our Practice Philosophy
As with many aspects of life, people often seem “pre-programmed” about what to expect in a dental office. We get phone calls frequently from prospective patients asking, “How much do you charge for a cleaning?” or “How much is a crown?” Only a few people ever ask the more important questions such as: “What is the doctor’s philosophy of care?” or “How many patients does the doctor see at one time?” or “What type of relationship does the doctor strive to develop with a patient?” People don’t ask because they don’t know to ask. We get in such a groove that we are often blinded by the fact that there are many different ways to do things and for that matter practice dentistry.
Our philosophy of practice revolves around treating the person as a whole and not just a tooth. It means patients, their overall health & well-being, must be foremost in the practitioner’s mind. Yes, it also means cleanings, fillings and crowns. These are often inescapable outcomes to dental disease – but, under what context are these services being provided?
Too often the dentist views a patient as just a mouth. The goal is to fix as many problems in as many mouths in as short a time as possible. The patient becomes the object of the “fix” instead of a participant in the treatment. How degrading is it for a patient to experience that type of environment? Where is the quality, attention and care when the dentist is busy running room to room? Is this the type of practice you want to be part of?
The dentist also suffers. How satisfying can it be for a dentist who sees 40 patients a day? What kinds of relationships can that dentist build with his or her patients? How can that dentist spend the necessary time with the patient to really know the patient’s needs and desires?
In a truly health-centered practice, each patient should be treated as a unique, whole person. Each patient should be treated with dignity and respect. The dentist gives each patient his/her most important gift: TIME.
Taking the time to listen; taking the time to do a complete examination; taking the time to teach the causes of existing and potential dental problems and taking the time to explain alternative treatments and modes of prevention. It means that each patient is given the opportunity to choose the highest level of health consistent with their values and life circumstances.
We are not the office for every person. We are the office for people who want to be part of a relationship where mutual respect is the driving force. If our philosophy described above fits your ideals, you belong in our practice. Read a newspaper column Dr. St. Clair has written on his philosophy.