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Paulo Camargo knows the incoming wide-eyed freshman class of dental students at the University of California Los Angeles School of Dentistry are wondering if it’s true. Many students have seen and heard TV, radio and web ads touting same-day dental makeovers. As the Associate Dean of Clinical Dental Sciences at UCLA, Dr. Camargo knows there’s no way to let them down gently. He and the other dental instructors will train the students to use evidence-based data. They’ll soon learn the short list of specific dental procedures suited to one-appointment delivery.
While it is could be argued that dental treatment continues to be practiced more efficiently —from fewer steps during bonding to comprehensive dental rehabilitations — big treatment plans aren’t built in a day. Nevertheless, the media is creating a demand for instant gratification dentistry that threatens to take on mythological proportions. Forget about the lack of real world possibility, the expectation from your patients is palpable. Why are dentists more often tackling unrealistic patient requests?
Amazon.com is reportedly1 pouring cash into the research and development of same-day delivery option for its customers. The business model will obliterate the next-day and two-day shipping companies if Amazon succeeds in setting up warehouses in large metropolitan areas. A courier will run the stock computer or birthday gift over that same afternoon you clicked “bill credit card.”
Other evidence points to increasing expectations of goods and service providers from the Generation Z, also called Generation Text (born early 90s - early 2000s) and the current Generation AO (“Always On”).2 These generations regard email as the new “snail mail.” Today and as they grow up, will they empathically feel instant gratification as a birth right not a privilege? Lee Optical and Eyemasters touts glasses in about an hour.
With the media ads for same day crowns, inlays, onlays (CAD-CAM), power bleaching and implants, what does it mean for how to manage the delivery of dental care?
It depends who you ask.
Nicholas Rodo, of Orchard Park, NY, has been practicing dentistry since 1985. “They want it in a snap, the McDonald’s way. Pull up, get your implant, and get out,” Dr. Rodo agreed. He doesn’t have an on site lab, or it would be possible to deliver dentures at the end of a day. “There’s some controversy in the field, too, as to whether implants can usually be done in one visit, but I can do many things to transform people’s smile in just an hour or two.”
Dr. Camargo said UCLA will start training dental students in CAD-CAM technology, which could mill a crown or an onlay in about 20 minutes, “But the ads saying you can walk in with rotten loose teeth and leave with a perfect permanent smile through implants is often hype.” He said that while the possibility exists, the goal is just to get the patient to contact the clinic. “There are so many cases in which same-day isn’t possible, but once they talk the patient into coming into the office, they tell him or her later that treatment will actually take more than one visit.”
The UCLA dental clinic sees a fair number of patients who had immediately loaded implants that failed — and which need removal, healing time, and reattempted. “That haste ends up costing patients more money and more time, which defeats the whole purpose of such a treatment approach. This is why case selection, in light of the existing scientific evidence, is key in maximizing success. ”
Dr. Camargo advised dentists to be frank and explain their own experiences with patients; they should inform patients that they have performed some of these procedures and should not hesitate to state that the most predictable treatment approach may take a few appointments. “Dentists and patients both like fast and efficient procedures because there’s less overhead and treatment time, but over-ambitious treatment plans that don’t go right often have to be redone.”
Dr. Rodo put it this way: “Tell them that if they go into a restaurant and order an appetizer or lunch and want it ASAP, the restaurant bring it right out. But if they want a steak well done, crab legs and a baked potato, it’s not ASAP. But it’s satisfying when it’s done, because it’s just right.”
1. Manjoo F. I want it today: How Amazon’s ambitious new push for same-day delivery will destroy local retail. Accessed Aug. 2, 2012.
2. Generation. List of Generations: Western World. Accessed Aug. 6, 2012.
A tradition of working for the dental profession. The Chicago Dental Society was organized in 1864 and incorporated in 1878. The objective of the Chicago Dental Society is to encourage the improvement of the health of the public, to promote the art and science of dentistry and to represent the intrest of the members of the profession and the public that it serves.
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