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Cosmetic dentists warned over ‘managing expectations’

Posted by Yvonne Wallace

Dentists are being encouraged to pay attention to the risks associated with cosmetic dentistry.

It is estimated by the Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland (MDDUS) that £1.5 billion is spent each year on the rapidly expanding industry.

However, the UK-wide organisation is warning dental professionals that managing the expectations of patients can present a “unique challenge”.

MDDUS dental advisor Doug Hamilton said: “if the patient’s perception is that the work ‘isn’t what I expected’ or ‘wasn’t necessary’, the complaint tends to be that bit stronger.”

Dental marketing, particularly dental posters in surgeries, can be utilised as a key tool in educating patients on what to expect from cosmetic procedures.

Mr Hamilton also added that results can be “calamitous” if less experienced operators try to participate in complex cases “without mastering the basics”.

He uses external bleaching as an example, as it appears simple and non-invasive; therefore the implication is that the procedure is unlikely to result in any lasting harm. However new bleaching legislation needs to be taken into consideration, alongside practical concerns including peri-operative sensitivity and costs.

The MDDUS also suggests patients could be advised other means by which they can make their teeth appear whiter; polishing, stopping smoking and internal bleaching for non-vital teeth for example. This could easily be achieved using dental posters in waiting rooms or treatment suites.

Another thing of vital importance is to keep accurate records of procedures being completed. Mr Hamilton said: “Good record keeping is expressly required by the GDC and, if something goes awry, these notes can save you a lot of unnecessary stress.”

Statistics from the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry show just under a third of the population are concerned by the look of their teeth, while only a quarter agree with the statement “I like my smile and would not change it”.

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