For most people, dentistry is downright frightening!
Dental terms like root canal, deep cleanings, implant screws, dental plates, dental splints, etc. send chills down the spine of a large segment of the population. Movies with horrible dental scenes, like Marathon Man, make these fears worse! Because of the negative concepts, the dental profession is easy to pick on and make fun of. In the middle of September 2021, a YouTube video about dentistry was released by Cracked, that already has almost half a million views. The title of the video is “If Dentists Were Honest”. It is dark, very deceitful but well done, somewhat funny to me with the underlining message of the importance of having a trusting relationship with your dentist. If you search YouTube for the video before reading the article, I think you will find this article humorous yet informative.
After just two weeks of being posted, the video already had over a half a million views and several thousand comments. I was pleased to see so many viewers post on how much they appreciate their dentist and what great service dentistry is. And of course, some posters agreed with the video. I can’t speak nor judge other dentists, but I can shed some light on some of the accusations made by “Roger” in the video. His claim that dentists are one of the “primary pushers of unnecessary, highly addictive opioids,” is simply not true. Dentists in Texas are under strict prescription laws that are almost impossible to work around. The days of picking up a pad to write a script for any drug are long gone. Any dentist who feels the need to prescribe a pain pill must go through a strict and monitored State of Texas protocol. They must log in to Texas Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) website and search the patient’s drug history. Once logged in, all that is needed for the search is the name, DOB, and address of the patient. Medical and dental offices get an immediate report of all narcotics, what doctor prescribed them, office location, how much was prescribed, what strength, and the date. Then, to monitor more closely, before filling the script for a narcotic, the pharmacist must check that the office who wrote the prescription did due diligence before writing the script. The goal is to stop people from going to many different doctors to get pain pills. The unintended consequence of the checks and balances is the addicted now turn to the streets for their drugs. The narcotics claim in the Spoof Video was “Fake News.”
One convincing segment showed a drugged dental patient being sold unnecessary work after they were under the influence of sedation. Convincing a sedated patient for any work, needed or unneeded, would be an open invitation to a lawsuit and is against state laws. Wouldn’t you be outraged if a professional persuaded you to have treatment when you were under the influence of drugs? Any dentist, who made this practice common, would not be a dentist for long!
The video alluded that dentists are not real doctors because we don’t do internships and residency after four years of dental school like MDs do. When one stops and thinks about it, we don’t treat heart disease, diabetes, and the thousands of other medical conditions that MDs do. Hospital settings are completely different than dental settings. To my knowledge, there are zero dental courses in medical school. Somewhere in history, dentistry and the medical profession became separated. Hopefully, in the future, that will change. We do however have an internship like experience during our years in dental school. About half of the junior year and almost all of the senior year is devoted to treating patients under the watchful eyes of the faculty.
The video makes it clear that because the public knows nothing about dentistry, patients can be taken advantage of. Unfortunately, this is not fake news; it happens. Just because someone was smart enough to get into dental school and graduate doesn’t mean they are honest and capable people. In my years of writing about dentistry for the newspaper, one of my primary goals has been public education. It only makes sense to have a dentist you like, trust and have an open and honest relationship with. Dentistry is a very personal service in a very sensitive area for both dental personal and the patient. I am a strong believer in wanting my patients to see what I see. In this digital age, up close photography and digital X-rays clearly show decay, gum disease, abscess, bone loss, worn teeth, broken teeth, etc. Patients can see their own mouths in living color. When advocating a procedure, it only makes sense for the patient to have a working knowledge of what’s wrong and what needs to be done to fix it. When the patient and dental team are on the same page and everyone is involved, good things happen which is completely opposite of the spoof video.
Dental insurance was also made fun of in the video and mostly for a good reason. In my opinion, dental insurance is one of the very worst investments anyone can make! Dental insurance is not really insurance, but instead it is only a benefit plan and if paid for by your employer might be of some help.
No one stops to think of the costs to the dental practice in verifying coverage, filing claims, answering queries and then waiting for payment.