We receive lots of questions regarding our thoughts on specific dental offices or asking if we know and like any dentists in someone’s local area.
So, in our style of ‘teaching you how to fish’, we’d like to share 7 key elements that, when put together, create a ‘dream dentist’.
Realistically, you most likely won’t find a dentist in your area who has all of these qualities.
However, it’s our hope that by sharing this information, you’ll feel more empowered to decide whether or not your dentist has the mindset and training to help you and your family navigate to optimal oral health.
First, let’s walk through these ‘ideal dental office traits’ in terms of mindset. Then, we’ll shift into more technical aspects regarding the tools that a ‘dream dentist’ uses in his or her practice.
1. They meet you as an equal
This is fundamental.
If a dentist (or any medical professional) puts themselves up on a pedestal, no amount of awesome technology in their office can make up for this foundational flaw of an overbearing ego.
We want you to find a dentist who recognizes that you (not the dentist) are the most important person involved with creating or destroying your own oral health.
This point may seem obvious, but many of us have stories about dental (or medical) teams making us feel small, uninformed, and essentially unable to make an educated decision. As you search for a dentist or prepare for an upcoming medical or dental appointment, we invite you to check out our article, “How to be your own oral (and whole body) health advocate“.
In contrast to the negative experiences you may have had in the past, I’ll give you an example of what a great dentist is like…
While living in Hawaii, we had a dream dentist. When I first met him in his office, he walked into the room, stuck out his hand and said, “Hi, I’m Steve” (not even “Dr. Steve”). He then sat down and patiently answered every single question I had (he even seemed to appreciate them!).
There was never any sense of, “Ugh, another question?!? I have another patient waiting in the other room!”
After we covered my extensive list of questions, then he asked if I felt comfortable with him taking a look inside my mouth.
He met me on my level.
He never made me feel uneducated or disempowered. In fact, he answered my questions at great length and with increasing technical detail as he saw my level of understanding of the subject. At the same time, he was sensitive to whether or not I understood his explanations.
Rather than having an “I know and you don’t” superior attitude, he met me where I was and together we walked forward.
I was very grateful to be able to turn to Dr. Steve Hubert as one of our expert resources when we needed to brainstorm ideas with a mindful, honest dental professional.
2. They only work on one patient at a time
This quality is going to be tougher to find. It definitely falls into the ‘dream zone’ for a dentist, as it means that the dentist has redefined their business model.
You see, most dentists use the mainstream dental business model, so they have more than one patient in the office at a time.
This model is like ‘rotating chairs’ or a ‘revolving door’; the dentist hops from one patient to another while the dental assistant or hygienist works on various other aspects of the patient’s treatment.
We understand that this allows an office to see more patients in a day. However, when I’ve been the patient in that situation, I have never felt like my needs were being sufficiently addressed.
If you think about it, dentistry doesn’t have simple, ‘cookie-cutter’ procedures. When a dentist opens up an area, they really don’t know what they are going to find in there or how long it’s going to take to restore it.
So, back to our friend, Steve. He has redefined his business model. Most dentists bill for the number of fillings or procedures they do during your visit. Rather than ‘billing by the filling’, Steve bills for his time and materials.
If you compare the financial cost between a filling done by Steve and a filling done by another dentist, on the surface it would appear that Steve’s work is more expensive.
But is it really? He takes more time to prep a filling surface and apply the filling materials. Why?
Because he knows that if he takes awesome care of you, that filling has the capacity to last you many times longer than a conventional filling that was installed by a dentist juggling 2-3 patients at a time. By doing this, you are much more likely to refer other business to him.
We are sure there are excellent dentists who can successfully juggle more than one patient at a time. Nevertheless, we really appreciate the personalized attention that a dentist can give us when we are the only patient in their office.
Let’s keep in mind the real cost (in terms of tissue loss in your mouth).
Yes, money is important, but once tissue is removed from a tooth, it’s gone forever.
Working on one patient at a time and billing for time rather than per filling allows a dream dentist to do the very best job possible and remove the smallest amount of tissue necessary to optimally address our dental needs.
3. They are very aware of the toxic nature of dental materials
This is an easy one. If a dentist still installs new mercury fillings, we see no reason to be in that office (which is most likely housing a toxic level of mercury vapor).
Next on the continuum, if the dentist no longer installs mercury fillings but they do remove them without providing protective gear (for you, the dentist, and the staff), then they are not adequately educated in the risks of mercury in dentistry. We would also avoid this type of dental team.
It’s been known for decades that dental assistants who habitually work with mercury amalgam have significantly lower fertility rates than dental assistants who do not regularly handle amalgam.
Thankfully, more and more dental offices are awakening to the toxic nature of some dental materials. To learn how to find mercury-free (aka ‘mercury safe’) dentists in your area, feel free to read our article, “Helpful resources to find a qualified dentist to assist you“.
If you have doubts about the risks of mercury, we encourage you to check out our article, “How to safely remove ‘silver’ mercury fillings (without damaging your brain)“, and to watch the “Smoking Teeth” video that it contains. Our friend and mentor (and retired dentist) Dr. David Kennedy produced that video to show a mercury filling emitting mercury vapors.
Incidentally, the photo in the beginning of this article shows another dentist friend of ours who helped pioneer mercury safe dentistry, Dr. Paul Rubin (in that link, scroll down to find him). To see our interviews with both Dr. Kennedy and Dr. Rubin, check out our HealThy Mouth World Summit.
Now we’re going to shift into more technical aspects regarding the tools and protocols that a dream dental office would use.
4. They use ozone gas in the care of nearly every patient
Here’s the bottom line: ozone gas cleans the space that a dentist is working on.
Given that ozone is in gas form, it’s able to travel down the microscopic pores in our teeth (called dentinal tubules). These tubules are so tiny that fluid-based disinfectants simply can’t do as thorough of a job as ozone.
Dr. Julian Holmes, world-renowned expert on ozone in dentistry (and another expert from our HealThy Mouth World Summit), shared with us that he uses ozone for nearly every treatment. If for some reason he ever needs to practice dentistry without access to ozone, he feels handicapped in his ability to perform dentistry to the level he knows is possible.
However, you have to watch out for dental offices that are ‘greenwashing’ when it comes to ozone.
We have come across dental offices who said, “Yes, we use ozone in our office.” After asking further questions, we discovered that they were talking about third-party ozonated water that comes in little packets. Or, their practice created ozonated water in the morning to use throughout the entire day.
Here’s the problem with these strategies…
Ozone is very unstable. That means it breaks down from O3 to oxygen really quickly, and it loses its beneficial sterilizing ability in the process.
Ideally, the dentist’s tray will contain recently-prepped syringes and holding devices for ozone gas and ozonated water.
The only way to do this effectively is for the dental office to produce medical-grade ozone in their office during your appointment time.
Speaking of all this technology, dentistry lasers are also promising for many similar functions. I particularly like the idea of using ‘light beams’ in medicine and dentistry. Maybe I just watched too much Star Trek as a kid. 🙂
So, an ideal dentist will use ozone and lasers to clean surfaces prior to installing any dental restoration.
In the next point, you’ll see why this is so crucial…
5. They make sure all decayed tissue is removed before installing a filling
Unfortunately, many of us mistakenly assume that the average dentist ensures that all decay is removed before they install a filling.
A quick search for the study didn’t turn it up, so I can’t quote this, but I have read that 70% of decay is not visible with the naked eye.
So if the dentist is running a business with multiple chairs, when they prep the area for a filling or other restoration based on visual observation alone, they might miss decayed tissue.
Thankfully, there are many tools a dentist can use to help identify whether all decay has been removed from the region (provided they are willing to slow down and take the time that’s necessary to check).
You see, this process is not simple. It involves checking for decayed tissue that isn’t visible to the naked eye and removing a tiny amount of tissue. Then check again and repeat until there is no sign of decayed tissue.
It takes time to do this repeated ‘check, remove a tiny amount of tissue, and repeat’ process.
Old style ‘caries detector’ dyes are one way to identify decayed tissue. These caries (cavity) indicators stain decayed tissue, providing a visual guide of the tissue that the dentist needs to remove.
Also, newer laser technologies seem promising for identifying decayed tissue.
The bottom line here is if the dentist does not remove all of the decayed tissue, there is a very real risk of ‘entombing’ thug bugs under the filling/crown, etc.
If this happens, it spells trouble. Oral thug bugs thrive in low-oxygen environments like this, and they will continue the decay process underneath the filling.
Unfortunately, this inevitably leads to more and more work needing to be done on the same teeth.
As a spooky side note, we’ve heard many horror stories from our dentist friends about lots of mushy, decayed tissue they had to scoop out when they opened up old fillings that had been installed by previous dentists.
While it’s possible that a filling may develop a ‘leak’ at its edge (aka ‘margin’), most of the time the decay under this dental restoration work is due to ‘entombing’ thug bugs underneath the filling.
6. They use a microscope to do all of the work in your mouth
This is another big one for us. Here’s why…
Ultimately, dentistry is a very visually-driven profession. I’m sure you’ve been in a dental chair and seen the dentist wearing glasses that function as small microscopes.
Those glasses can be helpful. However, they’re nothing compared to the level of sight that a dentist can achieve when they are trained to use a big microscope that’s mounted to the ceiling of their treatment room.
These are the same microscopes that eye surgeons use. That’s the type of precision you want when a dentist is permanently removing tissue from your body.
After all, once the tissue is gone, it’s gone for good. The better the dentist can see the microscopic level of their work, the more precise they can be and the less tissue they will remove.
7. They are very aware of the whole-body nature of dentistry
This almost goes without saying, but our dream dentist must fully understand how the mouth and body are connected.
Our culture (the general public as well as dental/medical professionals) tends to over-compartmentalize the body. For example, there is a general belief that we can treat the mouth separately from the rest of the body.
Here’s an article that explains how a simple filling can impact the health of various internal organs.
Dr. Mark Breiner is another expert dentist who participated in our HealThy Mouth World Summit. In his awesome book, Whole Body Dentistry, he eloquently states that we must get over this myth that we can treat the parts separate from the whole.
Here’s a link to an interactive tooth chart that allows you to click on a tooth and see the internal organs and body parts that are associated with it. It can be very eye-opening to take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with a Meridian Tooth Chart like the one in that link.
Putting the pieces together…
So, let’s recap here. This dream dentist treats you as an equal, spends as much time as is needed to answer your questions, and has structured their business model to allow them the extra time that’s necessary to really care for your needs.
They are willing to listen to you, and they are willing to act as an educated adviser to help you achieve your oral health goals.
Yes, they may sometimes share some opinions which may contrast with your plans. However, they will never belittle you for believing that you can achieve something that isn’t in the dental text books (the modern ones, at least 🙂 ).
After all, you are paying them to share their expertise with you. So, if they believe your thinking is off, you want them to (respectfully) tell you.
They are going to help you look at the big picture and identify any dietary or lifestyle habits that may be affecting your oral health. They’ll also explain how you can apply whole-body immune support to create greater oral health.
Once they finally get into actually caring for the inside of your mouth, they lower the risk of entombing decay under restorations by using technology like ozone and other tools to find and address all decaying tissue.
When they do any drilling, they use microscopic precision in their work. Also, they choose to work with biocompatible dental materials that are known to be less irritating to the immune system.
Speaking of compatibility with immune systems, a blood test is a great way to determine exactly which dental materials might work out best for your body.
Here’s a link that explains more about dental materials blood compatibility tests. The cost is around $300, and you only have to do it once in your life to find out which dental materials will irritate your immune system less than others.
And finally, a dream dentist sends you home with an herbal or homeopathic remedy like Hypericum to help soothe any overstimulated, frazzled nerves from the day’s dental work.For more information on how to evaluate dental teams, feel free to download our FREE Guide to Safe Dentistry, which explains what questions to ask to find a great dental team.
Whew! What a day at the dentist!
How about you? Do you know of a dentist who uses any of these strategies? What do you consider to be important criteria for dentists you’ve worked with? Please share your story in the comments below.
As always, if you know someone who would benefit from this information, please help us help others by sharing this article with your loved ones.
Helpful, Related Resources:
How to be your own oral (and whole body) health advocate [article]
Helpful resources to find a qualified dentist to assist you [article]
How to safely remove ‘silver’ mercury fillings (without damaging your brain) [article]
Can a Simple Filling Impact Our Whole Body Health [article]
Whole Body Dentistry by Dr. Mark Breiner [amazon link]
Meridian Tooth Chart [interactive chart]
IAOMT’s “A practical guide to compatibility testing for dental materials” [resource for dental materials compatibility testing]
Guide to Safe Dentistry [free e-book download]
Healthy Mouth World Summit [expert interviews product solution]