Oral Health Group
Feature

Teamwork

July 1, 2007
by Eliott Mechanic, BSc, DDS


Oral Health’s April Esthetic Issue attracted considerable attention from the dental community. The issue featured 12 original articles by an international group of authors. The articles represented today’s state and standard of care. Readers commented on how they were inspired and excited to change the way they practice. The goal of the publication was to open dentists’ eyes as to where our profession is going.

However, being inspired and wanting to change the way we practice is only the first step. Having our team players feel the same way is the next. The magic combination of meticulous treatment planning together with a special chemistry between patient, dental team and lab technician is usually common to our most successful cases.

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There is a wealth of education and information available to the dental profession. It is paramount to include our team players in the pursuit of knowledge as they are the ones who keep the wheels in motion. If our auxiliaries understand and are involved in implementing new ideas and procedures they are more enthusiastic and are able to perform treatment and communicate to the patient in a superior manner. It is not uncommon today to find dental assistants at courses that just a short time ago were only attended by dentists. Assistants are being trained in esthetics, implants, grafting and all technical aspects of dentistry.

Dealing with specialists is often a frustration for general dentists. Often, the specialist’s vision does not match that of the referring dentist, resulting in a communication breakdown regarding specialty procedures necessary to implement a treatment plan. Although procedures and materials may be specified in a certain manner, the actual result may vary at the specialist’s discretion without communicating to the referring dentist. Once the specialist has done his job, the patient returns to the restorative dentist, who must then pick up the pieces and work around the alterations. The specialist often does not feel the frustration of the restorative dentist as the dentist tries to be diplomatic and does not want to insult the specialist. However, the dentist is the one stuck with the problems and has to answer to the patient.

It is up to dental specialists to understand the latest restorative procedures, materials and be able to deliver results that fit the intended restoration. The specialist and restorative dentist must share the same goals and be able to visualize the same result desired at the end of treatment.

Having a close relationship with a dental lab is necessary if we aim to deliver superior restorations. A dentist may have done meticulous treatment planning, set up, and preparation but the result that the world will see is the work of the dental technician. Dentist’s and their technicians are today working together, pushing the limit of restorative dentistry and establishing a new standard of care. However, some dental technicians think of themselves and behave like rock stars making working with them difficult and unpleasant. The same can be said for some dentists. When egos get in the way, the work ultimately suffers and the patient does not benefit.

At this point, we have our dental team primed and ready for success. The assistants are educated in the latest procedures, our specialists are working hand in hand, and our relationship with the dental lab is like a well oiled machine. There is only one ingredient missing; the patient.

A cooperative patient who listens to what we say and follows the necessary steps to achieve their restorative goals is what it is all about. These patients are a pleasure to treat, they turn their cell phones off to respect their appointment and understand and abide by the dentist’s recommendations. These patients make practicing dentistry extremely rewarding. Our interaction with them is pleasant and we are able to create restorative changes that make us proud.

Dr. Mechanic practices esthetic dentistry in Montreal, Canada. He is the Oral Health editorial board member for Cosmetic Dentistry.


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