Who is the best dentist or dental clinic near me? “I am the best dentist in Burlington!” This statement would be challenged by all dentists because they probably do feel that there is no best dentist around if it is not them. A lot of patients would, however, ask that same question whenever they are looking for a dentist. Besides getting advice from their friends or relatives, they tend to turn to Google…
When you type “Best Dentist Near Me”, lo and behold! Google will bombard you with pages of dental websites and names, but how does Google know? Has Google seen that dentist or been at that dental clinic near me? Has Google ever sat in that dental chair in the pictures and been their patient? Likely not! So why do we trust Google?
The fact is that Google isn’t a person. It is merely a company which uses algorithms to decide who is the best dentist near you. That algorithm can be manipulated one way or the other by the owners of the operations or a third party hired by the owners and it may not reflect the reality. So who is truly the best dentist? Is it decided through an all over dental spar? A battle to the death for the title of best dentist?
As a matter of fact, there is no spar or battle. Our governing body, The Oral College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario, clearly states that one cannot claim that one is the best dentist, dental office or clinic. There may be relatively good or bad dentists, based on the standards set by peers and other health and safety organizations, near you but there is NO best dentist. No one can claim that level of Godness unless one is truly God himself. It makes a lot of sense since the dentist who can place the best implants in all situations and conditions in the whole world may not be able to place the best composite fillings and ceramic crowns in all situations among peers. Even if he or she is the best clinically, he or she may have lousy chairside manner with no empathy or understanding of the patient’s needs and overall wellness. Equally, the most empathic dentist may not have the knowledge and skills to provide the treatment you need.
Okay, so there is no best dentist – at least not necessarily the ones who come up on the Google page you are looking at. Then who should I look for? What dentist would be the most compatible for me and my needs? Who is the real tooth fairy? There a million questions that a potential patient can be faced with and may ask while searching for a good dentist to trust. Although I may not be able to answer those questions, I do have a few thoughts on it as a good dentist myself.
There are three factors to consider from a Dental Clinic: clinical, professional and ethical aspects.
The clinical factor should first start with the clinician’s knowledge and skills in making a diagnosis. If there is no diagnosis, then no treatments should be rendered. If a patient comes in with an ache in his lower jaw, the dentist should first find out the cause – it may be a tooth but which tooth or teeth, what disease does the tooth have – a crack, a high occlusion, a decay or an abscess etc? If it is not a tooth, then is it the supporting tissues – the gums like gingivitis or the bone like periodontitis? Could it be malignant in nature like sarcoma? Could the source of the pain be from the nerve like Trigeminal nerve neuralgia or neuromuscular joint issues? An accurate diagnosis is always needed to ensure that proper treatment can be applied. There could be a few different treatment options for an identified issue – should we use a filling, an onlay, a crown, root canal therapy or an extraction for the cavity? The rendering of the treatment chosen should be well executed, done for the well-being of the patient and the final results should reach or exceed the expected standards.
The other quality is professional. Does the dentist spend time to listen to your symptoms and understand your needs and conditions? Does he or she explain to you the findings and provide you with the different treatment modalities with pros and cons of each? Are the questions well received and answered? Are the fees provided if asked? Is the treatment provided evidence-based with good research? Are your comfortable with the decisions made? All these questions must be answered with an emphatic ‘yes’ before I, or any other good dentist, starts any treatment.
Ethical attributes are just as important as the other two characteristics in deciding if a dentist is good or not. Obviously, a dentist with high ethical and moral standards would be more honest and conscientious in providing the most appropriate treatments and best options with all circumstances considered.
Being the right dentist for you is an intricate result of a tapestry of many factors, more than just the above mentioned 3 characters. Unfortunately, bias and presumptions also play a strong role in deciding whether a dentist is the best dentist near you. Looks like this will have to become a dental battle after all…