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How to chose a dentist

The embodiment of hygiene and seduction, teeth are the key of a smile and they hold a fundamental importance in all relationships. A dentist carries out a role similar to that of a medical doctor, which consists in preventing and curing dental and gum related problems. Here are the criteria for the choice and evaluation of a dentist.

Courtesy and fairness: due to the very nature of his services, feared by youngsters and adults alike, first of all a dentist is a patient and tranquil person, gentle and capable of making a patient feel at ease. Whatever the subject treated, the dentist is able to explain in both simple and clear terms the therapeutic plan, the possible alternatives, the costs and the implications of every proposed treatment. For the more complex and innovative treatments, the dentist is capable of concretely showing his experience and the results obtained in other analogous cases;

Hygiene: the dentist and his staff comply with all hygienic conditions, from the employment of mono-use gloves, masks and caps, up to the sterilisation of each and every single tool and piece of equipment, which foresees three distinct phases: detersion,  cold sterilisation, sterilisation in autoclave. If the dentist's office presents itself in disorder and not well cured in its infrastructures, there is a good chance that all the rest is of no better quality;

Estimates: estimates, above all if they regard important interventions, must be written with precise details regarding both terms of service and materials employed, and must be clear about the eventual evolution of parts difficult to evaluate. It is also important to have a lasting guarantee, that generally refers to data stably shared by the scientific community and in reference to healthy subjects: gold-porcelain crowns 7-12 years, aesthetic fillings 7 years, implants 12-15 years.

Patient rights, duties of the practitioner: the Florentine Charter (Carta di Firenze).

On March 31, 2005 there was the birth of a new way of intending the practitioner-patient relationship in Italy, promoted by numerous scientific bodies and by the Medical Order. Here are the 15 essential points:

The 15 points of the Florentine Charter

  1. The relationship between sanitary operator and patient must be such as to ensure personal autonomous choice.

  2. The relationship is parithetic; thus it must not be influenced by disparity of knowledge (who has medical knowledge commands, the other follows), but established on a basis on responsibility sharing and liberal criticism.

  3. The diagnosis/therapeutic alliance is based on the mutual acknowledgement of the reciprocal competencies as well as on mutual loyalty, on an honest information and respect of personal values.

  4. The correct information contributes on ensuring the relationship,  to assure its continuity and is a crucial element for the patient's autonomous choices.

  5. The time dedicated to information, communication and relations is curing time.

  6. Correct information demands a clear and shared language. It must, more so, be accessible, comprehensible, reliable, accurate, complete, based  on proof of efficiency, credible and useful (orientated towards decision making). The dentist and/or medical doctor must not discriminate on the basis of age gender, ethnic group, religion, in full respect of the patient's preferences.

  7. The clear comprehension of benefits and risks (negative effects) is essential for the patient's choic , both for medical prescriptions or other therapies in clinical practice, as well as for his entry approach to medical procedures.

  8. The declaration of any interest conflicts of business or organisation must be part of the information rendered to the patient.

  9. Information regarding alternative therapies, on the inequality of the service offers and on the best diagnostic and therapeutic opportunities is fundamental and it facilitates, in the possible limit, the patient's free will of choice.

  10. Diagnosis and prognosis must be communicated in a complete way, in consideration or the patient's will, values and preferences.

  11. Every diagnostic or therapeutic choice must be based upon informed consent from the patient or from the patient’s tutor, if applicable.

  12. The dentist/medical doctor commits himself to respect the individual's free choice even if in contrast with his own interest and even when an objective prejudice regarding health, or the patient's very life, derives from it. Relationship continuity is also ensured in this circumstance.

  13. The doctor is tied to the patients directives regarding the therapies he may be submited to, were he no longer able to express a choice.

  14. The multidisciplinary communication among all the professionals of the Medical Health Bodies is efficient when it provides coherent and unambiguous information. Clinical information and  information relative to the diagnosis, the prognosis and the patient pathology phase must circulate among the practitioners. The same criteria is applied to clinical experimentation.

  15. Communication and information skill development must be included in the Medical Health professional base training programs.

published: 21 January 2008

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