Standing the Test of Time

The work you do as a dentist may end up having a much longer life than you originally intended. The scientific journal PLOS One recently published an article which claims to have found one of the earliest known examples of dentistry.  A 6,500 year old jaw bone was found near Trieste, Italy which included a left canine tooth with a large vertical crack.  After various methods of analysis including x-ray and radio carbon dating, it was determined that beeswax had been applied to the canine, most likely as a way to reduce pain and sensitively due to the fractured tooth.

Now 6,500 years is undoubtedly a very long time, however it can pay off to think about the long term when reviewing treatment with a patient.  Take for example a 4 surface filling vs. a crown.  The 4 surface filling is going to take close to an hour to complete, perhaps a little longer for adjustments, and is going to bring into the practice about $250-$275 in production.  A crown is going to take roughly the same amount of time (1 hour), although that same hour will give the practice about $1,000 in production.  Even with the lab costs of the crown included, the 4 surface filling is going to be less than half as profitable.

The most common obstacle in getting a patient to agree to a crown rather than a 4 surface filling is cost.  Due to the additional expense on the patient’s end, it can be a hard choice.  However, if that patient is effectively made aware that the crown has a much better chance of lasting them a longer period of time, they may be more inclined to choose the option that gives them the best benefit down the road.  I don’t think anyone would expect a crown to last six and a half millennium, but it is nice to know that dentistry can and has survived the test of time.  Convincing patients to make the choice that will give them the best quality of treatment will not only provide them the best opportunity for prolonged oral health, it will also help your bottom line.

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