Who would have ever thought that a bi-annual visit to the dentist for a routine check-up would expand into a range of multidimensional products and services? But the inevitable has happened!
We no longer look at the dentist as someone who makes sure our teeth are in healthy order so that we can eat properly. Nowadays, teeth have become a fashion statement; they have become a sense of self-expression. Hence, many times our purpose of visiting the “tooth doctor” has nothing to do with the health of our teeth but a lot of other factors. And there is only one cause for this problem: we are spoilt for choice!
Options for Fillings
Let us start with a simple procedure: Root Canal. This treatment is used for infected teeth, drilling down to remove the bacteria that has accumulated underneath and then enlarging the canal to fill the crown back again. The procedure itself is very straightforward but it comes in many styles and packages. For example, patients are from the beginning given options on how they would like their treatment to be carried out based upon the fillings they choose for their teeth. An example of the types of packages provided at a normal clinic is as follows:
- Normal Person Treatment– This is the least expensive procedure that comes with a standard filling made up of silver amalgam (silver, zinc, tin, copper, and mercury). Though such fillings last long, they do not match the colour of the teeth and stand out.
- Tier 2 Treatment – This is a more expensive procedure as it uses fillings made of composite resin (plastic and fine glass). Though their life is less than amalgam, what makes these fillings attractive is that they match the teeth colour and hence, boost confidence.
- Gold Treatment – The most expensive of all, this package provides fillings made with gold or ceramics (porcelain) that are much more stain and abrasion resistant than other fillings. They are also tooth-coloured, so cosmetically fit for patients too.
Of course, the ultimate decision depends on the patients based on their needs and budget. However, the rise of such options has only expanded the industry ever more because many times patients opt to undergo such root canal treatments in the scenarios where it is not needed at all; just so that they can have better-made materials such as gold/porcelain sealed in their teeth.
Another service area where options are endless is for patients who choose to undergo braces. Orthodontic treatments themselves culminate from a cosmetic background as they are designed to aid people who wanted to improve their appearance by getting rid of protruded and crooked teeth. To top it up, now patients have the choice of not only opting for braces but also choosing the kind of braces they want. Options include:
- Traditional Metal Braces: They are the most common ones with metal brackets that stand out when patients smile. They are more popular among children as these braces give them a choice to change the colour of their bands each month when the wire is tightened, i.e., opting for green-n-red bands for the Christmas spirit in December, orange-n-black during Halloween, red-n-pink for Valentines, etc.,and the list goes on.
- Ceramic Braces: These are similar to metal braces but with tooth-coloured/clear brackets that make them less visible, particularly of theneed to older patients.
- Lingual Braces: They are traditional braces but placed insideof the teeth, not outside.
- Invisalign: The most expensive, custom-made, mouth guard aligners that can be taken off as per needs. These are suitable for the older patients who want complete freedom with their braces.
Again, choice of these braces within the choice of opting for orthodontics depends upon each person’s requirement and income levels. But all it does for the dentist is it expands their service offerings and hence revenue streams.
The examples above are not exhaustive as other dental treatments have also been commercialized over time to give patients more choices than they need, inducing them to just buy more. This has expanded the dental industry economically but at the same time worsened personal hygiene as people no longer feel they are responsible for the well-being of their own teeth.
James Harris takes you inside the journey of dentistry and the transformed approaches that introduced a lot of choices for the people with needs and cosmetic desires. The job of today’s dentist is far-reaching compared to the earlier days which focused on the dental treatments alone.