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Stat!: Second Opinions

Posted Sep 30 2013 12:32pm
  • Percent of Americans who’d seek a second opinion for a major home repair: 70
  • Percent who’d do so for a major car repair: >50
  • Percent who’d do so for dental work: 6

dentist_patientIs this really so surprising? After all, second opinions are largely about securing the best work at the best price. Most of us probably don’t anticipate huge differences in cost among dentists. A filling is a filling, right? And a crown is a crown, a root canal is a root canal…

But second opinions may also be about whether a particular service is needed at all.

What if there are less invasive ways of solving a particular dental problem?

What if a treatment carries risks that the dentist doesn’t disclose, such as mercury in amalgam (“silver”) fillings, nickel in a crown, or root canalled teeth as a source of focal infection?

The poll from which those above stats are taken indicated that “trust in their current…dentist is a major reason why respondents said they would not seek a second opinion.”

Certainly, we need to trust those in whose care we place our health. But seeking a second opinion isn’t about trust. It’s part of the process of understanding your options, the risks and benefits of any recommended treatment, and making choices that make most sense for you. Those choices will have long term effects – good or bad – on your health and well-being. They matter.

It only makes sense that we approach them with as much care as we do the things we buy. At minimum, ask the questions you need to understand your treatment options, their risks and benefits – what’s being done and why and how it may affect you.

A conscientious dentist who puts patients’ best interests first will not be offended by your doing so.

Image by Mercy Health , via Flickr


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