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September 5, 2019

Dental Scaling And Root Planing: The Basics


ROUTINE PROFESSIONAL DENTAL cleanings by your dental hygienist include scaling, or the careful removal of plaque and tartar from around the gumline. Tartar in particular can only be removed at a professional cleaning, as brushing and flossing alone can’t do the trick. However, if you have symptoms of gum disease, your teeth may need an even more advanced cleaning called dental scaling and root planing.


The Effects Of Gum Disease

Healthy gums fit snugly around the teeth, providing a barrier that keeps bacteria away from the roots. When gums become diseased, they begin to pull away from the teeth, forming deeper pockets where bacteria can grow. That’s how plaque and tartar can build up beneath the gumline.


Check out this video for the warning signs of gum disease:


What Is Dental Scaling And Root Planing?

When you brush your teeth, you’re cleaning the visible surfaces. Dental scaling and root planing is a deeper cleaning. Dental scaling gets rid of all plaque and tartar above and below the gumline, and root planing smooths out any uneven areas on the surfaces of tooth roots so that bacteria will have a harder time sticking and gum tissue will be able to heal effectively.

This kind of deep cleaning has been described as the gold standard of treatment for patients with gum disease. To get the gums healthy again, all that gunk needs to be cleaned out, which is what dental scaling and root planing does. While routine scaling helps prevent gum disease, scaling and root planing is a non-surgical treatment for existing gum disease. In cases of severe periodontitis, it may be recommended before gum surgery.


Removing Tartar Is Like Pulling A Splinter

If you’ve ever had a splinter in your finger, you know that getting it out isn’t very comfortable, but as soon as it’s gone, you feel instant relief. Dental scaling and root planing is the same way. It may require multiple appointments and a local anesthetic to eliminate discomfort, but it leaves your teeth and gums feeling wonderful.


Afterward: Taking Care Of Your Gums

Getting your gums healthy again is a process, and the dentist is your best resource. After your periodontal treatment, whether it’s surgical or just scaling and root planing, we’ll want to pay close attention to your gums through regular maintenance visits. Every two to four months, you’ll come in for routine cleanings and examinations where we check the pocket depth of your gums.


Getting Your Healthy Smile Back — And Keeping It!

The best treatment for gum disease is prevention, whether you’ve had it before or not. A good oral hygiene routine is critical, so make sure you’re brushing the inside, outside, and chewing surfaces of your teeth twice a day, flossing daily, replacing worn out toothbrushes, and scheduling regular appointments with us. Avoiding smoking will also help you keep your gums healthy.

A healthy life starts with healthy gums and teeth!

As always if you have any questions feel free to call our office at 360-693-2577, we look forward to helping you!  -Dr. Keller, Erin, Jane & the whole Granite Dental Team

Top image by Flickr user Pedro Ribeiro Simões used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.



June 5, 2019

Calcium Isn't Just Good for Bones, It Benefits Your Smile Too!

JUNE IS NATIONAL DAIRY MONTH so we thought we'd share some reasons why calcium in dairy is so important for our smiles.  We've all been told (and many of us tell our children) that milk builds strong bones. But our nutritional and dietary preferences are not only widely varied, they also change from time to time. Does milk really “do a body good”? Some believe it does, and others believe it doesn’t.

Regardless of your take, you’re not alone. Today, millions of people follow vegan or vegetarian diets, and tens of millions of people are lactose intolerant. Whether or not you choose to avoid dairy for health or other personal reasons, here are some thoughts from the Granite Dental Team.

Calcium and Vitamin D Play a Key Role in Oral Health

It’s true that dairy products are full of calcium, and often supplemented with vitamin D (which helps your body absorb calcium and other bone-building minerals). While people on specialized diets (including vegans and vegetarians) are typically very careful about eating healthy, 
there’s still a risk of calcium and vitamin D deficiency.

One of the dangers in calcium and vitamin D deficiency is the increased risk of periodontal (gum) disease. In addition, these deficiencies can weaken your teeth and lead to tooth decay. Without the right vitamins and minerals, your mouth’s defenses may be down.

Need a Good Source of Calcium? Dairy Isn't the Only Option!

The good news is that, if you choose, you can get these nutrients from alternative sources. For example, just one ounce of sesame seeds contains almost as much calcium as an entire glass of milk. Other major sources of calcium are dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, and collard greens.

Check out this video about how important calcium is for our smiles:

10 foods high in calcium

When it comes to vitamin D, surprisingly, your best source is the sun! When exposed to the sun’s radiation, your body naturally produces vitamin D. But of course, be careful and use common sense—you also know the potential problems associated with prolonged/unprotected sun exposure.

There are also a number of things we can eat and drink that are “fortified” with calcium and vitamin D including soy milk, orange juice and some breakfast cereals. You can also consider taking supplements.

Do you have questions about this topic? Contact us! Do you have suggestions for others who may be wondering about other sources for their daily calcium? Let us know! Leave a comment below, or on our Facebook page. We love hearing from you!

And, as always, thank you for being our valued patient!-Dr. Keller & the Granite Dental Team



May 31, 2019

Frustrated With Flossing? Try Waterpik®!

FLOSSING IS A CRUCIAL element of our daily oral hygiene routine. A toothbrush simply cannot reach the plaque and food particles stuck between our teeth, so we need to floss to get at it. Simple brushing is even less effective on its own for those with braces, which introduce countless new hard-to-reach crevices where bacteria can hide.

As necessary as flossing is, it can still seem like a hassle at times. That’s why we’re so excited that old-fashioned flossing isn’t the only option. One of our favorite alternatives to traditional floss is the Waterpik® Water Flosser, the first powered interdental cleaner to earn the American Dental Association’s seal of approval.

How Waterpik Compares

Our patients love using the Waterpik Water Flosser, and our hygiene team really recommends it.  One patient said, "It does not take very long to floss your teeth and it leaves you feeling clean".   It is especially important to use a Waterpik if you have any kind of implant or crown as it can be difficult to reach with conventional floss those surrounding areas.  

Watch this video to see how the Waterpik Water Flosser gives you a cleaner, healthier smile than brushing alone:

Get Your Own Waterpik Water Flosser!

We offer the Professional model Waterpik Water Flosser at our office.  When you visit for your next cleaning make sure to pick one up.    

Let Us Know How You Like It!

We’d love to hear how you like your Waterpik Water Flosser once you start using it, so make sure you let us know at your next appointment with us. Until then, don’t forget to brush twice a day and use the Waterpik to “floss” once a day!

Keep cleaning those gorgeous pearly whites!

-The Granite Dental Team


The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.
Top image by Flickr user SITS Girls used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.


May 1 2019

I, like many people, am deeply troubled by this article entitled Is Dentistry a Science in the Atlantic Magazine, for lots of reasons. And its not easy to express all of those reasons. But in an attempt to be loyal to my professional obligation as a doctor, I feel a need to weigh in.
First, in a profession of >150,000 doctors, and many times that number of auxiliaries that support them, judging a profession by the actions of an individual is unwise. Generally, the competent and consistent work done by the vast majority of that throng of care providers is not newsworthy and therefore absent from the news media. Usually anything that does “make the news” is often negative in character and, while sensational, statistically insignificant.
Second, because I am not personally acquainted with the cases described, I cannot make many comments. Based on the data reported, the number of some of the procedures accepted by patients did seem unusual. However all health care, including dentistry, is unique, so without looking at each case it is impossible to know if any of that care was inappropriate. I am encouraged by the work done by the dentist who purchased the practice and that these irregularities are being looked into. While not perfect, peer review is a healthy way to investigate these sorts of matters.
My greatest concern with the article lies firmly with the types of comments that are being made on various social media platforms, one of which I would like to address.
There were numerous comments made that followed this pattern: I have been seeing Dr. A for years and he has either never told me I had any problems or he has always told me I don’t have any problems. I then went to see Dr. B, who says I have problems I was previously unaware of. Dr. B must be a crook, so I’ve left him in search of Dr. C, D, E…who will agree with Dr. A.
All patients must understand a truth in healthcare: repeated care by a single provider is perhaps the most predictable way to receive consistent care. That does not mean excellent, quality, or even adequate care. It simply means consistent. Nevertheless, at least in dentistry, this consistency is generally a benefit to patients. This is because while dentist manage a large variety of diseases and conditions, the primary two, dental decay and periodontal disease, are both chronic infectious diseases best managed through consistent care.
Take the example of a simple dental cavity. There are multiple ways to treat a dental cavity, which is a carbohydrate modified bacterial infections disease. Generally, these include a spectrum of care with medicine on one end and surgery at the other. At the most conservative end of the spectrum, taking the medicine route, a doctor may prescribe fluoride, xylitol, diet modifications, changes in oral hygiene devices or protocols, all of which are intended to attempt to manage the infection short of surgery. These approaches require consistent care to achieve their desired outcome, meaning coming in regularly year after year to allow the same provider to monitor whether or not the medical route is adequate and maintaining or improving patient health. If a doctor knows you well, and is familiar with all the variables in your individual life that influence the progression of a cavity in your mouth, and has been monitoring it for many years, his decision to keep monitoring it and attempting to use medical routes to maintain or improve its condition is justifiable. However, if he has just met you and at that initial examination, finds such a cavity, his lack of familiarity with you as an individual might slide his decision making to the other end of the spectrum, that of surgical intervention. Surgical intervention in dentistry includes such procedures as fillings, crowns, root canals, periodontal scaling and root planning, tooth extractions, and hundreds of other procedures.
“So, what do I do about my cavity?” is a problem faced routinely in the dental office. My encouragement is to have a conversation with your doctor to understand as well as you can your immediate situation, advantages/disadvantages, risks, and alternatives for care, and then make a decision. Ultimately, there is not a “right” or a “wrong” answer to that question most of the time. Usually there are lots of answers along the continuum from medical intervention (including doing nothing at this time) to surgical extraction (including extraction, which is sometimes needed with “simple” cavities).
When patients run into different diagnoses and treatment plans from different providers, it is most often a demonstration of poor communication within the patient/doctor relationship, not an indication of incompetence or avarice. So keep asking questions until you and your doctor can find a happy middle ground. Variations from that hallowed spot often should be avoided at the risk of your health.


April 23, 2019

Could Alzheimers Begin with the Bacteria that causes Gum Disease?

Dr. Keller is a big believer that the health of our mouths affects our overall health.   He was interested to read a recent study published in the journal Science Advances which he shared with the staff here at Granite Dental.  This study indicates that there may be a link between Porphyromonas Gingivalis and Alzheimers.  The Porphyromonas Gingivalis bacterium is known to cause gum disease and might be capable of traversing the path from mouth to brain where it can trigger chemical changes that damage brain function.  A new drug to fight this is currently in clinical trials.  

For more information on this exciting study visit this NOVA article here.  

--From the Nova article:  "This is very exciting in many ways," says Sim Singhrao, who studies neurodegenerative disease at the University of Central Lancashire in the United Kingdom, but was nto involved in the new study.  "This work not only highlights the problem of poor oral hygiene as a risk factor for Alzheimer's, but it might also offer a futuristic solution."  

In the new study a team led by Stephen Dominy and casey Lynch of Cortexyme, a San Franscisco-based company developing Alzheimer's therapeutics, found bacterial gingipains in the brains of over 90 percent of a group of more than 50 deceased Alzheimer's patients.  And the more gingipains an individual had, the more that brain showed chemical signs of deterioration.  --

It is important to remember that Alzheimer's, the causes and treatments are very complex.  However, we hope that as patients are better educated about the importance of good oral health they will be healthier overall.  Call us today and schedule your regular cleaning and exam.

-Granite Dental Team


February 25, 2019

Why Are Dental Sealants Important?  

DO YOU SPEND A LOT of time worrying about how to keep your child’s teeth cavity-free? Teaching them to brush and floss are critical steps towards ensuring that they can take good care of their teeth for life. Once those permanent teeth come in, there’s something we can do at the dental practice that will give them even more protection against tooth decay, and that something is applying dental sealants.
Bacteria Versus Your Child’s Teeth
The reason it’s so critical to teach our children good oral health habits at an early age is that 40 percent of children develop cavities by the time they start school because of poor oral hygiene and consuming sugary snacks and drinks. Every human mouth contains numerous species of bacteria that excrete acid onto our teeth when consume sugar, and this acid wears away at our enamel and leads to tooth decay.

Brushing, flossing, and limiting our sugar intake are all important ways we can keep that bacteria in check. But even when we do all of these things, there are crevices in our teeth where bacteria can hide, and these can be difficult to reach with a toothbrush. That’s where sealants come in!

What Are Dental Sealants?
Dental sealants are a protective clear plastic layer brushed onto the chewing surfaces of teeth to “seal them off” from plaque and bacteria that would cause cavities to form. Dentists started using sealants in the 1960s, and they’ve been popular ever since.

Typically, sealants are applied to the molars because these teeth are the ones that do the most chewing and have those deep crevices where bacteria can hide. The sealant will fill in and cover any crevices on the tooth to act as a shield from the bacteria. What makes them even better is that the sealant application process is quick and painless!

Check out this video for more information about sealing out tooth Decay.

When Should Your Child Get Sealants?
The best time to bring your child in for dental sealants is around when their adult molars erupt, which is usually at age six. The sooner they sealants are in place, the less opportunity the oral bacteria will have to build up in the crevices of the molars. However, sealants are still beneficial when applied later on. Older children and even adults can get them and have their teeth protected too!

Schedule Your Child’s Next Appointment Today!
Whether your child needs sealants or just a normal twice-yearly dental cleaning, don’t hesitate to schedule their next appointment! And if you have any concerns with the way your child is brushing or with how the food they eat might be affecting their teeth, be sure to let us know so that we can help.

Our top priority is protecting your child’s smile!  Call us today for more information and to schedule an appointment.  360-693-2577  -The Granite Dental Team


January 23, 2019

The Top 3 Best Drinks For Your Teeth

MANY OF THE THINGS we drink are actually pretty bad for our teeth, especially soda, fruit juice, and coffee. What options does that leave for the dental health conscious to quench their thirst? Fortunately, there are a few drinks that are much less likely to cause stains or contribute to enamel erosion and decay, which makes them much better for our teeth!
3. Milk
Milk is an important source of calcium, which is essential for healthy teeth and bones. A certain amount of enamel remineralization is possible if your body has the right building blocks available, so getting plenty of calcium is a great way to stock up on those building blocks to keep your teeth strong. If you are lactose intolerant, you don’t have to miss out on this either, because calcium-fortified soy milk is another great option.

One thing to be aware of, however, is that milk does have natural sugars in it, which is why it’s a bad idea to leave a child with a bottle of milk over a long period of time. The longer the sugars in milk are left on the teeth, the more they feed oral bacteria, contributing to tooth decay. This is how a condition commonly known as “bottle rot” can happen for babies and toddlers.

2. Green And Herbal Tea
While black tea, much like coffee and red wine, is prone to leaving stains on teeth, green tea and herbal teas do not carry this drawback. In fact, like milk, they actually have dental health benefits. Tea contains compounds called polyphenols, which help fight bacteria. Just make sure not to load your tea with sugar or even honey, as that would cancel out the benefits of the polyphenols. If you can enjoy it plain, that’s great, but you can also use sugar-free sweeteners.  

1. Water
It might seem boring to include water on a list of mouth-healthy drinks, but it is absolutely essential to our overall health that we stay well hydrated — and specifically to our oral health! If we aren’t drinking enough water, we may not have enough fluid to produce saliva, which is the mouth’s first line of defense against acids and bacteria. The act of drinking water itself will also flush out remnants of food and sugary or acidic drinks, helping to keep our teeth clean until the next time we can brush.

Watch this video for some tips on mouth-healthy foods:

10 Best Foods For Healthy Teeth

What We Drink Is Only Part Of The Equation
Cutting back on some of the less healthy drinks in favor of drinking more water, milk, and green or herbal tea can make a big difference in our oral health, but it isn’t a substitute for other oral health habits. Make sure you’re also keeping up with your twice-daily brushing, daily flossing, and dental appointments every six months!

We’re here to help you keep those teeth happy and healthy, give us a call today 360-693-2577  -Granite Dental Team


December 28, 2018

What to do when you have a TOOTHACHE?

A TOOTHACHE IS never fun to deal with, and they can happen for a variety of reasons. Do you know what to do when one strikes, especially if it happens over the holidays or at the beginning of the weekend and you can’t get quick access to professional dental care?
Toothache Causes
The most common reason a tooth might initially feel painful is tooth decay, but it isn’t the only reason. Tooth pain can also be the result of pulp inflammation, an dental abscess, a cracked tooth, or even gum disease. Impacted teeth (teeth that are blocked from coming in where they should by bone, gum tissue, or other teeth) can also be painful. Tooth sensitivity can lead to discomfort as well, and sometimes the cause is merely a sinus infection or congestion.

Reducing Dental Pain Before Your Appointment
The best thing to do when you have a toothache is to come see us right away. If for some reason that isn’t possible, there are a few things you can do to manage your dental pain in the meantime.

Rinse and spit with warm saltwater to reduce inflammation
Apply a cold compress to the cheek near the sore area
Take anti-inflammatory medication
Use an over-the-counter topical medication

Preventing Future Toothaches
If you’ve had or currently have a toothache, you probably want it to be your last. Obviously some of the causes can’t be prevented, such as sinus infections and a tooth being damaged in an accident, but there’s a lot you can do to protect your teeth from the aches and pains that come from poor dental health.

Brushing twice a day for two minutes with a soft-bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily, and scheduling regular dental appointments will keep your teeth healthy. You can also help your teeth out by cutting down on sugary foods and drinks.

Bring That Tooth Pain To Us As Soon As You Can
Pain is the body’s alert system to let us know when there’s a problem, and it’s important not to ignore it. No matter what you think might be causing your toothache, schedule an appointment with us to get it taken care of before the underlying problem has a chance to get worse. We’ll be able to take a look and get your tooth the treatment it needs!

Let’s fight that toothache together!-  Your Granite Dental Team

**The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.


December 14, 2018

Stocking Stuffers For Healthy Teeth

THE HOLIDAYS ARE approaching, and that means it’s time to shop for treats and presents for the people we love! Often times, these treats aren’t the healthiest choices for our teeth, which is why we’ve put together some suggestions for more dental-friendly goodies to stuff in those stockings — as well as some things to avoid.
Stocking Stuffer No-Nos
Unfortunately most candies are not great for your teeth, however in moderation they can be enjoyed.  Just be aware that any sticky foods need to be completely cleaned out of your teeth or they may cause decay.  Some of the worst offenders are our favorites:  Candy Canes & Taffy!  

The Dentist’s Picks
Dr. Keller's favorite holiday treats are fruit, nuts, cheese & sausages.  He loves a holiday smorgasborg with all kinds of delicious foods but tends to personally stay away from the candy.  

Check out this video for more holiday treat ideas.  

Wishing All Our Patients A Happy, Healthy Holiday Season!
Of course, another option would be to avoid edible stocking stuffers altogether, in favor of small toys and games that will take your children’s minds completely off their sweet tooth cravings. No matter what goes in those stockings, though, don’t forget to keep up with all those good brushing and flossing habits through the holiday season, and we look forward to seeing you at your next cleaning appointments!

Thank you for being part of our practice family!

Dr. Keller & the entire Granite Dental Staff


November 7, 2018

10 Fun Dental Facts You Probably Didn’t Know!

THE TRUTH IS, our teeth are amazing! Without them we wouldn’t be able to speak, eat, sing, or smile properly. We’d like to celebrate our teeth by sharing some interesting dental facts you may not have known!

Here Are 10 Fun Dental Facts
1. If you've been using floss daily, by the end of the year the total length will be the perimeter of a baseball diamond! Is your floss going to make it to home plate?
Because birds lack teeth, many swallow stones or grits to aid in breaking up hard foods.

2. On average, women smile 62 times a day and men only eight times a day. Step it up, guys!

3. The average American spends 38.5 total days brushing their teeth in their lifetime.

4. Only 40 percent of young people age six to 19 have had cavities in their life. That’s down from 50 percent a decade ago!

5. In the middle ages, people thought that a dog’s tooth boiled in wine made an excellent mouth rinse to prevent tooth decay. Tasty!

6. The Egyptian plover, also known as the crocodile bird, is famous for flying into crocodile mouths and cleaning their teeth.

7. Prior to the 1850s, ‘toothpastes’ were usually powders and contained soap and chalk.

8. An obscure law in Vermont states that it is illegal for women to wear false teeth without the written permission of their husband. Crazy!

9. Different animals have different amounts of teeth; armadillos have 104, pigs have 44, and humans have 32.

And last #10 the narwhal's tusk Is actually a tooth!


How Many Of These Facts Have You Heard Before?

It’s always fun to learn about the obscure facts and crazy history that make up our tooth trivia! Do you know any other cool dental facts? Comment below or on our Facebook page! And remember, take care of your teeth. They do so much for you!

Granite Dental Team


October 25, 2018

Social Media Helps Us All Smile


IT MIGHT NOT SEEM SO AT FIRST, but a dental practice is all about relationships—relationships between our team members and our relationships with YOU, our valued patients and friends. When we stop to think about the things we do each day, these things make it all worth it.

We Love Seeing Your Smile!

We love social media because it allows us to continue to nurture these important relationships long after you’ve gone back home after visiting our practice. We enjoy hearing about your concerns, your plans, your vacations, your victories... And we get to see your smiles often! We love that!

Seeing Smiles Everywhere

We also like social media because it’s fun. For example, here’s a post that we found online of everyday objects that look like they’re smiling!

Here's another fun video of smiles found all over:


Smiles Are Visible From 300 Feet Away

We can’t help it. Humans are hardwired to see faces everywhere. It just goes to show the importance of our smiles! Did you know that people can perceive a smile from 300 feet away? That makes it the most recognizable human expression.

Smiles are a foundational part of how we interact with each other. Whether it’s for family photos, travel selfies, a job interview, or a date, our smiles are such an important part of how we show ourselves to the world.

Keep your smile bright and healthy by giving it the care it deserves. Let us know if you ever have any questions or concerns about your dental health.

Share Your Smile!

Like we said, we love to see YOUR smiles. Follow us on Facebook, and post a pic of yourself on our page. We are also on twitter and instagram-@granitedental.  Knowing that you’re proud of your smile is one of the things that makes our jobs so satisfying.

Thanks for being part of our practice family!

Dr. Keller & The Granite Dental Team


Image by Flickr user Kevin Dinkel used under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.



October 10, 2018

AUTUMN IS SUCH A cozy, relaxing, inviting, and spooky time of year. It’s a time of changing colors, great seasonal treats, corn mazes, and great holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving. That’s why we thought it would be fun to get together and share with you a few of our favorite things about fall!

The Best Thing About Fall Is…
Colorful leaves, crisp weather, fun fall foods and cozy evenings by the fire.  

Our Favorite Fall Activities
Need some ideas for things you and your family can do this fall? We’ve asked some members of our team about their favorite fall activities, and here’s what they said:

Rachel's favorite thing about fall is spending cozy evenings with her family and baking fun fall treats with apples and pears, she loves to make applesauce for her family to enjoy throughout the year.  

Rita's favorite thing about fall is wearing sweaters and the colorful fall leaves.  

Erin's favorite thing about fall are all the pumpkins.  The warty ones and the white ones, she loves them all.  

If it’s Halloween ideas you’re looking for, check out this video:


Don’t Forget Your Checkup!
While we’re all busy having fun doing the things we love, it can be easy to forget things like scheduling a regular checkup! We love all the fall activities going on, but we love to see our patients more! Schedule your next checkup now, especially with the holidays coming, so you won’t have to worry about it later!

We hope you’re as excited for fall as we are!

-Granite Dental Team


Relationship Building at the Dentist 

October 3, 2018

I watched with concern this recent airing on the very popular Dr. Oz show.  I wanted to respond, at least to my patients, friends, and family, in a productive way to help clarify some of the points brought up in the show.
All doctor/patient relationships are first and foremost relationships.  Like any relationship, honesty and the trust it engenders is foundational to the long-term success of the relationship.  This sort of “investigation” both lacks scientific rigor and ironically seeks for greater transparency through duplicity and deception.  While the expressed purpose of the “investigation” was to expose, perhaps it has simply made things more confusing for everyone.

Let me do my best to address in a less contentious way some of the major points brought up by the video clip.

The primary point, I believe, that was being made is that patients struggle to understand their dental health and dentists struggle to communicate and educate in ways that bridge and close the gap instead of making it bigger and deeper.  Gratefully, this divide actually is quite easy to reduce: as was suggested in the program, communication and relationship building is the solution.
As in all relationships, dentists and patients need to value the relationship above the transaction.  That means dentists need to take the time to close the knowledge gap, helping patients understand both the objective findings and subjective opinions on what might be done with those findings.  Patients need to clearly communicate their wants, needs, and goals with their providers, including honest and open financial discussions as they apply.  Once all of that is on the table, as a team doctors and patients can create a plan to meet the wants, needs, and goals of the patient.

Additionally, it is prudent to consider the value of a dental home, as discussed on the show.  A dentist with whom you’ve spent years building a relationship will likely be better able to understand your unique health, and can generally treat some of your health concerns more conservatively than a revolving door of dentists could.

Unfortunately, a major error made in the show, one that can be confusing to patients, is the idea that healthcare is a commodity, like a pair of pants or an automobile, when in fact, it is a service.  Many patients wonder why a filling, a crown, or any other service provided at one office might cost more or less if provided by a different dentist or the same dentist but in a different location.  While too complicated to fully address here, the short answer is that when you make a dental service purchase, you aren’t just buying the porcelain coating for your tooth.  You are buying the skill with which it is placed, designed, and fabricated.  You are purchasing the environment and convenience with which it is placed, the convenience of hiring someone to bill your dental insurance for you.  You are purchasing the reputation of the dentist in question and his/her willingness to stand behind his/her work should something go wrong.  You are purchasing the friendliness and consideration of his/her staff, and the feelings of safety and relaxation you feel in the office.  All of this and so very much more together comprises a tremendous service to patients, one with value reflected in the price charged for the service.

The premise is established that using social media review sites such as Yelp is helpful to patients in understanding who is and who is not reputable, as well as in helping patients avoid scams or dentists who charge too high.  I personally advise patients to exercise caution when they use social media as the sole determinant in selecting a doctor.  Social media in general, and Yelp specifically, has come under intense scrutiny recently, as indicated both in Yelp Reviews: Can You Trust Them? | BU Today | Boston University and the peer-reviewed article upon which it was based,

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