The public expect that the dental care they receive will be of the highest quality, in a safe environment, using appropriate treatments and materials and that any customer service necessary will be readily available. The dental health care in Nigeria is not generally available, it is not completely accessible, it is not broadly acceptable and it is not satisfactorily affordable and also there is insufficient use of appropriate technology. Despite the fact that the number of dentists in Nigeria is far below the W.H.O recommendation. It is not a bad idea to understand how to choose a dentist.
Dental care globally is a highly personalised interaction between patient and dentist and will vary in degrees of complexity. Thus, absolute guidance on what constitutes a “good” dentist or “good” dentistry difficult to ascertain. There is always a huge gap between what the dentists perceive patient needs and the patient’s expressed needs and expectations.
In order to ensure continuity of dental care, it is prudent that you visit a dentist or a dental clinic on an ongoing basis. Establishing a good rapport with your dentist provides you with ready access to total or comprehensive oral healthcare counsel or treatment you would cherish for long because oral conditions such as tooth decay and gum diseases will be easier to detect and cheaper to treat through early professional intervention.
The likelihood of the need for complex and expensive treatment later will also significantly be reduced. This Guidance is designed to assist patients in making a choice in Nigeria.
Ideally the choice of dentist should be made before any dental emergency arises to avoid having to make that decision in urgent or hurried circumstances and start telling that touch the heart.
If you have not come across a dental clinic or a dentist before or you have had nasty experiences in the past, then this write-up is for you.
- RECOMMENDATION FROM OTHERS
There is nothing like trust when it comes so health issues. You will agree with me that each and every one of us have at one time or the other come in contact with a general healthcare professionals or patients with some dental experiences before.
A dentist in general practice is qualified to provide all routine dental care and can also provide appropriate referrals in cases where more specialised treatment is indicated or where facilities or materials needed to give standard service are not available You can consult your general health physician to guide you or consider asking friends, family, neighbours or co-workers to recommend dentists with whom they have experience and have been pleased with their treatment. Whether the dentist works in a government or private setting should not be an issue.
2 YOUR INITIAL CONSULTATION
You should use your initial consultation as an opportunity to observe standards in the Dental practice and to ask as many questions as necessary so that you can feel safe and confident with your choice of dentist. Satisfy your conscience and be realistic that the general appearance of the dentist(s) and other staff members, the reception/waiting area including the conveniences are reasonably up to acceptable standard of cleanliness. As part of your initial consultation and in addition to questions about your dental history, you should be asked about your general health and medical history;
- Whether you have suffered from serious illnesses in the past;
- Whether you suffer from a chronic medical condition;
- Details of any medication that you have been prescribed;
- Your smoking history;
- Your previous surgery and general anaesthetics history
- BE SATISFIED WITH THE STANDARDS OF HYGIENE IN THE SURGERY
Registered dentists are obliged to operate under comprehensive guidelines on infection control within dental surgeries.
You should satisfy yourself and be assured that:
- The dentist uses an autoclave (a medical sterilizer) to sterilize instruments;
- Hand gloves are worn by the dentist and his chair side staff at all times when you are under active treatment;
- New hand gloves are worn for each patient and that these are changed on their return if the treating staff leave the treatment area for any reason, such as taking a telephone call;
- Hand instruments e.g. hand pieces (drills) are sterilized;
- New injection needles are used for each patient;
- Sterilized single-use cooling solutions / water is used for surgical procedures;
- Members of staff wash their hands between patients;
- All surgery working surfaces are clean, with disposable covers used on surfaces touched during treatment.
- EDUCATION ON THE DISEASE CONDITIONS
An important aspect of good dental visits is to learn the basic tips on some popular causes of dental problems , common risk factors , common symptoms ,common oral health instructions, oral hygiene practices , complications of untreated dental ailments , some treatment options and cost implications.one way to achieve to achieve this is to be inquisitive by politely asking questions . A skilled dentist with a good communication skill is a sought-after one among their peers
- YOUR TREATMENT PLANS AND OPTIONS
When discussing your proposed treatment with your dentist you should ask:
- What are the available treatment options, what other choices do you have for some or all of the treatment plans suggested and how much is the cost of each option?
- What are the rates of success or failure and / or possible complications associated with each of the options offered or suggested?
- Whether the Dentist has references from past patients or testimonials from previous patients who have received this or similar treatment(s) in the past including photographs of before and after treatment previously provided by that dentist?
- What happens if the given treatment is unsuccessful or you are unhappy with the outcome?
- If there are complications and further treatment is needed, is this an additional cost and who will shoulder the responsibility?
- Who do you contact for advice after treatment for follow-up?
- Is there a laid down complaints procedure in the practice and can you see it?
- Does the dentist have professional indemnity insurance cover?
- Does the dentist provide appropriate information in writing regarding aftercare that you can take home?
- THE COST OF YOUR TREATMENT
Before treatment is commenced you are entitled to know the cost implications (or best estimate) of the treatment and agree to terms of payment –decide whether payment will be in full or part or in instalment; either by cash or using POS or online transfer or cheque. You should feel free to discuss this with your dentist before treatment. Most dentists will be happy to discuss this with you, especially if you have any concerns in this regard. Oral healthcare services cannot be seen, tasted, felt, heard or smelt before they are bought.The cost of service should be priced right. The real intention should be to add tangibility to their intangible offers. You should not be over-charged or under-charged. High charges should not be mistaken for excellent service and vice versa. Available offers include the promo price, least price, discounted prices, allowances, and payment period and credit terms. All these must be determined by the facility so that the clients / patients/buyers of their service can know what decision to make.
- TAKE TIME TO BE SATISFIED WITH YOUR DECISION
Time spent making the correct decision about your choice of dentist will contribute to building a trusting patient-dentist relationship which is established on mutual respect.
This will maximise your peace of mind, minimise any potential for conflict and help in building a long-lasting partnership to protect your oral health.
Take time to access the professionalism of the dentist, the quality of dental facility, the competence of other staff members, the cleanliness of the environment, the services rendered, the equipment used etc.
- GOING ABROAD FOR DENTAL TREATMENT
There is no doubt that high quality advanced dental care is found outside this country especially in the developed nations. If you are considering going abroad for dental treatment it is sensible that you are aware of what to expect and understand the possible benefits and risks involved. You should satisfy yourself that the benefits from possibly lower treatment costs contribute to providing a long-term solution to your dental problems or else you would be wasting resources and time. A well-informed patient is in a better position to make a well-informed decision. You should speak with your local dentist who will be able to offer valuable advice based on your past and present dental history. Though, lower fees may be a consideration while taking decision to seek dental treatment abroad, one need to be reassured that the proposed treatment will not have a negative impact on your long term dental health and general wellbeing. It is wise for you to research the treatment proposed, the clinic where the proposed treatment will be carried out before travelling, and also the dentist who will be performing the treatment over there. You may also interact with other experienced patients who have had treatment previously in the same clinic and/or from the same dentist. There may be on-line groups and forums that can assist with this. This advice is intended for those considering travelling abroad for treatment