A 2009 Gallup poll, as quoted in the September 2011 issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association, asked respondents to rate the honesty and ethical standards of different professions. Dentists received only a 57% rating of “very high or high,” ranking lower than that of physicians, pharmacists and nurses. This number fell below the 2006 rating of 62%.
If ten dentists are put in a room to discuss a case, it is more than likely that 10 different treatment recommendations will result. Some may take a more conservative approach to dentistry, while others prefer to treat for prevention and restore anything that could be problematic in the future. How can we explain these differences to our patients? With “free second opinions” becoming a regular tagline on many dental advertisements, how can we help patients realize that different approaches to dentistry do not indicate misdiagnosis or wrongful intent?