Edwin J. Zinman, DDS
San Francisco, Calif.
Drs. Scott Trettenero and Gregg Martin`s research in "What Patients Say About Quality" in the October issue of Dental Economics concluded that patients determine quality by a clean office and well-groomed dental professionals.
Notwithstanding 6,500 computer-scored patient responses, quality can only be determined by adherence to the ADA`s parameters of care of peer review guidelines. Patients misperceive quality by judging superficial external appearances of a dentist`s office or staff. On the other hand, dentists measure quality by intraoral examinations which the patient is not trained to either diagnose or assess.
Although patients judge us on how we appear, as the peers in a peer review, we judge each other on what we do. Quality, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Thus the research of Drs. Trettenero and Martin proves we need to do more to educate patients with diagnostic quality radiographs, models, and mouth mirrors in order to demonstrate how dentists use periodontal probe measurements and dental explorers to examine if restorations are well-placed. Only then will our quality be patient-learned as well as dentist-earned.