Tell us about a product or technology that has recently changed your world.
Silver diamine fluoride (SDF) is revolutionizing the practice of dentistry as an excellent nonsurgical caries treatment option. It has antibacterial and remineralizing properties that desensitize and arrest or prevent dental caries. It is very simple to apply, quick, low risk, and inexpensive. While it has its downfalls esthetically, most parents and patients are accepting if it means being more conservative and avoiding extensive treatment, such as general anesthesia.
It’s an excellent treatment option for patients with special needs or children who are too young to tolerate dental treatment with the use of local anesthetics, drilling, sedation, or general anesthesia. It is also excellent for hypoplastic teeth that are so sensitive that treatment even with local anesthetics are difficult for the patient. I have learned that if you treat the tooth with SDF first, the patient is able to tolerate the procedure well a few months later.
I consider SDF as an option in my practice almost daily. I’m able to “buy some time” with some of our youngest patients, allowing the opportunity to gain trust and rapport in the dental chair by building on positive experiences. Then “when the time is right,” a definitive restoration can be done.
What’s a piece of advice you wish you knew five years ago?
Dental insurance companies and plans come in all different shapes and sizes. Most patients who have some sort of dental coverage intend to use it. Yes, you have a glowing five-star online review rating, or word of mouth has attracted new families to your office, but still one of the first questions people ask when scheduling that new-patient appointment is, “Does your office accept my insurance?”
The intent of a dental plan or dental insurance is to provide affordable dental care. While you may be able to negotiate higher reimbursement rates for one over another, or you choose not to contract with any at all and charge your own fees, my advice to another new grad would be to really learn what types of dental insurance and plans are available in your city or state. What fee is appropriate in order to pay the bills and meet the bottom line? A consultant or attorney can help you with statistics for your patient population or where you intend to practice. Whether you’re an owner or an associate, there is also a great deal of paperwork required with long processing times, such as for government-funded programs. If not completed long in advance, it could limit your ability to treat certain patients right away.