Dr Mark HassedNear my last office I used to have two specialist oral surgeons — let's call them Dr Alpha and Dr Beta.

When I'd send someone to Alpha for an implant they'd invariably come back a couple of months later with it in place ready for the restoration.

When I'd send someone to Beta they'd usually return having decided not to proceed with treatment. I wondered why.

It turned out that Beta was giving a long and very scary list of possible complications. So scary that only the most determined patients proceeded. Beta even warned of the possibility of death.

Over the past few years, I've noticed a trend among many dentists (especially young, inexperienced ones) to give patients a huge list of possible complications, even if the odds are only 0.0001%. They even give dire warnings about trivial, easily managed complications.

To me, it looks like a form of self sabotage where dentists are so terrified of failure that they try and dissuade patients from normal and reasonable treatment. They'd rather extract a saveable tooth than try to save it and fail.

I wonder how many saveable teeth are lost every year due to extravagant warnings by the dentist.

If you find yourself warning patients about 19 things prior to starting a root filling ask yourself: “Am I doing this for a sensible reason or am I doing this because of my lack of competence or because of my personal fear of failure?”

Disclaimer: Despite all of the above, you must do whatever your dental insurer says.

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