Being a dentist might seem like such a cushy job. People imagine dentists holed up in their air-conditioned offices, waiting for patients to arrive and then performing teeny-tiny procedures for an absurd amount of cash.

Over the years, many patients or parents of patients have though along those lines. In fact, the parents of patients may even now be forking over a good deal of tuition towards their offspring’s dental tuition because they still believe it is such a cushy and easy job.

The truth is that dentistry isn’t as easy as they think it is. So here are a few things dentists would like their patients to know.

Dent School is Expensive

Dent tuition isn’t what makes dentistry expensive. The books don’t make dentistry expensive either. What makes dentistry truly expensive is the amount that students have to pay for dental materials and tools. These things won’t last a lifetime yet they still cost a lot of money and have to be changed every few years or so.

Clinics are expensive. Every dentistry student has a chart to complete each year. This chart is filled with cases that they have to accomplish before moving on to the next level. This may or may not include 10 or so prophylaxis cases of varying degrees. The chart is usually composed of a few cases for fixed dentures and removable dentures along with a certain number of cases involving root canals, perhaps cavity restorations as well. Most patients are of low socioeconomic status. Therefore, a clinician will have to pay the patient for his or her time, pay for the cost of lab work and foot the bill for the prosthesis.

So once again, dent school is not cheap because dental materials are not cheap. So please, patients, do not ask for discounts. Dentists have to eat and pay for utilities too.

Come Back If We Ask You to Come Back

Years ago, a clinical instructor told us that he had discovered the key to making patients come back. These were prosthodontic patients by the way. He said that the best way to get them to come back was to make sure to use green or blue acrylic instead of tooth-colored ones on their temporary crowns and bridges. (Hello, Doc Damo of SWU!)

That’s the thing though. Patients usually don’t come back after the first visit. They think it might save them money, especially those who only pay for half of the procedure. This is where they are wrong.

If you have a root canal done, you leave with a temporary filling in most cases. Failure to return would mean that the tooth has not received ample protection. That would mean losing the tooth to decay and treatment failure just because the patient failed to come back.

When you get temporary dentures, please note that these will not last. They are not made to withstand years of wear and tear. They are placeholders and they MUST be changed. Please come back for the final dentures because at the end of the day, it will be your loss, not the dentist’s. Yes, your loss, my edentulous friend with loose dentures that will fall out in public.

There Is No Such Thing as DIY Braces

Please do not think that DIY braces really work. Recently, there have been ads circulating on social media wherein the person was offering DIY braces. Braces are not for show. They have a purpose! They must be put in place by a dentist who is at least licensed to perform orthodontic therapy.

If you decide on DIY braces, please know that if there comes a time when your roots break free from your alveolar bone and your teeth start to hurt, it is the right of a licensed orthodontic practitioner to refuse to handle your case.  So please, no DIY. There are no DIYs in dentistry.

Brushing and Flossing Aren’t Enough

A toothbrush and floss does not equal to thorough dental care. Just because you do both regularly does not mean that you should avoid visiting your dentist at least twice yearly.

You can brush and floss 3 times a day but there will always be some deposits leftover. Please come visit us! We have the expertise and the tools needed to remove deep-seated debris. We promise you that you will not have to worry about bad breath for 6 months or more.

Dentists do their best to ensure that their patients have the best oral health. But sometimes, just sometimes, patients forget that their dentists are important, sometimes underpaid and that they have feelings too. So if you are a patient who has thought of doing or has done any of the above things, please hug your dentist and apologize during your next visit. 


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