Quality & Affordable Dentistry in Malaysia

What To Look For and How To Find Your Malaysian Dentist

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The search for your Malaysian dentist may appear easier than it actually is
The search for your Malaysian dentist may appear easier than it actually is

The search for your Malaysian dentist may appear easier than it actually is. In addition to all of the necessary qualities, you will want someone with whom you can achieve a good comfort level and communicate on a high level of mutual understanding. You will want to be sure that your Malaysian dentist understands what you are looking for in the way of a dentist and dentistry. You, the patient, need to be open, communicative, and be able to understand your dentist’s questions, his or her diagnosis and treatment plan, and you both will need to discuss and come to a complete understanding and agreement as to the proposed treatment plan. It may even be necessary to alter the dentist’s treatment plan to accommodate your specific needs and limitations.

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So, where do you begin to look for this ideal dentist? The first and most obvious place is to ask close friends, family members, and fellow co-workers. You may need to ask many people until you have the names of two or three dentists who sound really good to you. Ask whether the office is sparkling clean. Is the staff warm, friendly, and helpful? Was a complete health and dental history taken? Did the first visit include a comprehensive oral examination.

Were a complete set of x-rays taken? How about impressions for diagnostic models and photographs? And was every tooth position charted for its existing condition and necessary treatment? Was an aesthetic evaluation accomplished? And how about detection of halitosis (bad breath)?

After all of this information has been gathered, you should be re-appointed for a treatment planning conference. During this meeting, you should be comfortably seated in a conference room-type setting where the dentist and perhaps the staff patient coordinator will fully discuss your dental findings and existing conditions, and provide recommendations, including any alternative methods of treatment.

After all questions have been answered and any barriers to such treatment have been overcome, the patient coordinator and you will work out a treatment schedule and financial arrangements.

I have just described the ideal scene. While there may be variations in perfectly good dental practices, the scenario previously described should, in general, be what you are looking for.

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We must all try to avoid concentrating on a single tooth or particular area of the mouth. The mouth and its teeth are actually an organ system, and need to be evaluated and treated as such. Ninety percent of all dental disease is bacterial-oriented and, when totally understood, can be completely prevented. In other words, bacteria cause dental decay, periodontal (gum) disease, and bad breath. If we control these bacteria, we can eliminate them all. 

Now, we have a pretty good idea of what we are looking for, and we have the best way of looking for it: our closest acquaintances. But what if you are new in town or for whatever reason are not comfortable asking around?

The second best way to find your new dentist is to call the local dental society or other recognised dental association. Ask for at least three names in your geographic area, then check them out further by asking other health professionals that you know if they have heard of them, and if so, what do they know about them. Do as much research as you possibly can before picking your first choice. After making this decision, call the office and ask for a “get acquainted” appointment to meet the doctor and staff, and see the facility. There may be a fee (some practices offer a complimentary consultation for a visit of this nature) so be sure to ask. If there is a fee associated with that visit, that should not deter you because, after all, you are investing only a small amount to find out if this is a practice where you will feel comfortable. In any event, do not expect a comprehensive examination and radiographs.

The staff should be pleased to show you around, spend time with you, and answer your questions and concerns. The doctor in all likelihood will spend two to five minutes with you. You may come away with the feeling that this is the right office for you. If not, repeat the process for the next doctor on your list until you find the right one. This whole process should be looked at as a small price to pay in time, dollars, and energy, considering the long-term nature of this prospective relationship

A third option is to ask your physician or other healthcare professional for the name of their dentist. Along these same lines, you could call some of the dental specialists in your area and ask the receptionist for the names of at least three general practitioner dentists who they can highly recommend. Then, repeat the process outlined above in option two.

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If these methods don’t work for you, there is still hope; but the risk is higher and the search may take longer. So the last method I will discuss here is responding to advertising. Advertising of dental services was neither legal nor ethical until a little over 20 years ago. Now, it is quite common. Nevertheless, there is still a lot of controversy about it among health professionals. In dentistry, there seems to be a division between older, more established dentists who more generally oppose advertising of all kinds and younger dentists who do not yet have a reservoir of very many patients, who see a need to advertise and promote in order to jump- start their practices. There are certainly very valid points on both sides of this issue. First, the dentist writing the ad copy or the professional advertising person doing it for him may be a whole lot better than the dentist. An ad may be very professional in appearance, highlight the dentists best assets, and urge prospective patients to come to that dentist.

The problem, however, is that regardless of the sophistication of the ad, the dentist may be very average or even sub-par. This happens all the time. I remember a fairly distant time ago, a well-known and popular dentist who had a great personality and many renowned patients. This individual’s so-called final, valuable product was worthless and even harmful to his patient’s dental and general health. I knew first-hand, because I had the opportunity to examine and eventually treat several of his former patients. The dentistry that he placed in those patients’ mouths was abominable by all standards. Still, the public and his patients never knew it; that is, at least until its failure was evident years later. And all of this in the days before dental advertising. Extend this scenario, if you will, to one of professional advertising and ask yourself, what have we got now? The potential for abuse is limitless.

But is all advertising of this damaging magnitude? I know that is not. Many dental advertisements absolutely match the reality of their promoted dentists. And many even understate the dentist’s abilities and qualities. So, how are unsuspecting or prudent consumers to know who’s who or whether or not they can trust an ad? Another problem, with advertising is trusting referral services not sponsored by the local dental organisations. These are financed by the individual dentists in the referring association. Some of these dentists are very good, some average, and others less than average. How can we know who is good and who isn’t? We can’t. The referring agency merely tries to distribute calls to the dentists in the network as evenly as they can within each dentist’s geographic area or zip code. The same is true with dental organisations, as they can’t really say who is good, great, and who isn’t.

So, all in all, dental advertising is just that, and probably the least reliable way to find what you are looking for, unless you are just shopping for the lowest fees and don’t place much value on quality and service.

However, if you do choose to do your search in this way, be sure to follow the protocol outlined earlier in this chapter for checking the prospective dentist before scheduling treatment and becoming a patient of record.

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Another way of exploring for a new dentist is to be alert to speaking engagements given by dentists in your area. You may find them at adult education courses speaking on cosmetic dentistry, implants, high-tech dentistry, or any number of subjects. They also sometimes speak at service clubs or other civic meetings. By attending and listening closely, you will be able to somewhat evaluate the dentist as a professional and a person.

You will not be able to tell much about his technical competency or the feel of his hands, but you most certainly will be able to get a feeling of whether you and he are on the same wave length and if you might be compatible. And if he shows slides or other pictures of his completed cases, you can at least tell if he has an eye for aesthetics and creating beautiful or handsome smiles.

As you can see, this business of finding an ideal dentist is quite complicated and time-consuming. But the consequences of not being particular can be disastrous. Let’s take an example patient that we evaluated. Mike (I have changed his name for privacy reasons; however, the situation and story are true.) found his previous dentist about six years ago through a friend. The friend told Mike that his dentist was an established, reputable, well-known long-time practitioner in the area, and had many high-profile patients. At Mike’s first visit, it was obvious that this was a thriving, successful dental office. The reception area was tastefully decorated and comfortably furnished. There was a well-uniformed staff swarming the treatment areas, and there were two very professional, well-dressed, business coordinators positioned at the front desk area. The whole office reeked with every new dental device that has been developed in the last 10 years. The doctor was friendly and looked the part of a very successful and competent practitioner. Mike, of course, had every reason to trust, like and actually be thrilled about his selection of a new dentist; and at first, it actually went quite well.

Mike had rather severe periodontal (gums and supporting bone infection) problems and some missing teeth. Because of this situation, Mike was referred to the periodontist (gum specialist) with whom his new dentist routinely worked. The periodontist was also a well-known, respected, and highly regarded practitioner. He too had many high-profile patients. Well, Mike received very good treatment from the periodontist. His only complaint was that the periodontist did not clearly explain his options and treatment recommendations in terms that he could understand.

Sometime later, some treatment was performed on Mike’s upper and lower front teeth, and it was then that Mike first perceived that something might be wrong. His dentist, apparently after consultation with the periodontist, had decided to fill in some of the spaces that were left after his periodontal surgery treatment with composite bonding material. 

During this procedure, he also completely bonded the front teeth together to prevent them from drifting or moving in a facial or lingual (toward the tongue) direction. The upper six front teeth and the lower front teeth were, so to speak, splinted together. While this might have been a satisfactory short-term solution for Mike’s problem, it was cosmetically (aesthetically) unacceptable. The dentist did not put proper contours or definition into the new splint and did not do any fine polishing. The result was a rather unsightly glob of stuff that did not really look like teeth, could not be flossed or kept clean, and stained easily because of its rough, unpolished finish. In addition, even though the original treatment was supposed to resolve the small holes between the teeth near the gum line, they were still there. Mike is a very successful business person and looked the part in every other way. But he was totally embarrassed by this fiasco performed on his mouth and even his young nephews, being as brutally honest as young kids can be, asked their uncle Mike why he had holes between his teeth. Fortunately, by working together, Mike and a new dentist were able to repair the damage. Today, Mike’s smile is very handsome.

The treatment that Mike received from his new dentist should not be difficult to find. As we previously stated, dentists are usually extremely fair, competent, and communicative. In Mike’s case, something went awry, even after he thought that he was in good hands. When similar situations arise with any patient, that individual should seek advice elsewhere. 

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There are scores of other stories that I could relate but in the interest of your time, I’m sure that you now understand the best ways to insure your selection of a competent dentist. The really great news, however, is that we truly believe that, other than cosmetics, accidents, congenital deformities, and crooked teeth, that at least 90% of dental disease is completely preventable. 

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