We, of Style Italiano, believe that our present is meant to be lived in order to ensure the best consequences to happen in the future. For this reason, PREVENTION is not only a word in our vocabulary, but it is an actual mind setting that we have, for our patients to get the best out of their smiles. "Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”; as we all know, it was back in 1948 that the WHO gave this definition of health which hasn’t changed since then. Our members and followers know that being a dentist isn't only about creating nice, attractive smiles or relieving masticatory discomforts, but it has to deal with the definition above as our patients' mouths should feature and provide all the aspects – physical, mental and social – of a Person's Health.
Speaking of our specific matter, it is important to state that there is no better option than a natural, healthy tooth, so our solutions should always aim to preserving the most of it. This vision of prevention rises from the idea that avoiding problems is always better than finding even the best solution; to be effective, our prevention plan must be understood and agreed by the patient.
Our role, hence, is to be allies of our patients to enable both us, as clinicians, and them to actively take care of the health of their oral system: the patient must be involved and instructed to take ACTIVE CARE.
The knowledge we have today in science, technology and communiction, allows us to do more than we used to, to preserve what's best of our patients' smiles; on the other hand, we will meet some obstacles at various levels:
INFORMATION We must admit that even most of our colleagues are not aware of what role an Active Care could play in their daily practice, and in terms of satisfaction of their patients; truth is, many of them do not know the great opportunity that new diagnostic technologies and devices represent today. Prevention is defined as an “action directed to prevent the occurrence or spread of unwanted or harmful facts”; it’s easy to understand how we must limit the effects of whatever disease might already be occurring inside our patients’ mouths and bodies. Most clinicians have no idea how powerful monitoring of a lesion, and how effective new techniques and materials, such as remineralizing products, can be; by monitoring we mean going far beyond the "let's just wait and see" attitude, hence thinking in a strategic manner in order to reduce risk factors to a minimum and pushing on tooth repair. CREDIBILITY On the other hand, patients ignore that they can actually reduce the onset of a disease, but most of all they are not informed about non-invasive therapeutic options. We should invest our time in transferring into our patients’ conscience which lifestyles are to be considered virtuous and which should be avoided. A lot of our patients would come to our practice thinking: why would a person that has an economical advantage from me having a dental illness want to actually work on prevention? Above all, we have to communicate our CREDIBILITY, to erase the thought that a professional might take advantage from his patient’s illness, and communicate that we are committed to prevent their oral health to undergo any damage. The patient has to understand that his health status is always subject to a risk: for even a mild gingivitis or sensitivity he must be aware that his dentist has a specific, customized, effective set of tools to prevent/solve the problem. Prevention hence includes a number of protocols that should be fairly paid, thus preserving our credibility. WORTH The challenges of this area also depend, of course, on the health insurance/welfare policy in different countries. On the other hand, a patient's standpoint towards paying for procedures is strongly, proportionally related to how and how much he is informed: an informed patient understands what quality and research are WORTH and will be just glad to buy a high quality service to his own health, as long as he can afford it, even when other cuts would be needed to his budget. The dentist must understand that not only “big interventions”, but also saving a tooth can be profitable; this should not be perceived only as an ethical issue, but also as the best way so gain credibility towards your patients.
The mouths of our patients shouldn’t be perceived as healthy or sick: as there is no “black or white” scenario that isn’t constantly changing, we have to change our strategy according to the situation in order to get the healthiest clinical situation allowed. Most of the time, it is a middle grey-shade of the scale that we find in our patients, featuring mild inflammation of small injuries, an environment with good and bad bacteria co-existing; the gray area has a wide span, including situations in which continuous demineralizations and re-mineralizations of the dental tissues are happening.
Right next to the uninformed patient, there always is a neglected patient that has has desires, concerns, requests, that might be the key to a successful treatment; the patient must be the PLAYMAKER and be in charge of organizing the run of the whole team to score. To achieve what we can call real prevention, the concept should be moved from the clinician’s mouth, in term of words, to his hands; a dental professional should get the best instruments and materials to assist the patient in his oral health daily workout. This is the reason why ACTIVE CARE will be a space to know about all of the new non-invasive technologies, devices and materials available to take care of the patient from diagnosis to treatment.
The patient-playmaker will count on a team of devices, have the dental hygienist as a coach and the dentist as a team manager who monitors the activity of the team and highlights the aspects to be improved to become a winning team.
In conclusion, we have to be able to reACT to a constantly changing risk scenario; to get the best results we need our patient to be the hard-working playmaker that comes to practice and maintains a suitable lifestyle. What we need is ACTIVE CARE.