Who are we trying to impress?

Certainly, good technique is extremely important to me. Still, all too often dentists put patients through more discomfort, expense, and inconvenience than is truly necessary in order to allay their own fears that some faceless, future dentist will criticize their work five years down the line.

Pursuit of the perfect procedure should never trump patient satisfaction. That’s not to say that I take pride in a calcified canal that I can’t get sealed to within .2 mm of the apex. But I refuse to expose a patient to an additional hour of chair time simply because I want to impress my perfectionist peers.

With perfect technique comes higher cost, longer treatment times, and more post-treatment discomfort—all negative consequences that run counter to the retention of happy, satisfied patients. It makes far more sense to focus on patients as the ultimate judges of our work.

Patients judge the quality of our procedures by criteria that may sound simple enough.

Did he hurt me?
How long did it take?
What did it cost?

But, from the patient’s point of view, such criteria are very important. What’s more, they also heavily weigh the feelings and stories they can measure.

How did he make me feel?
Did he listen to me?
Was he friendly?
Was the the office clean?
What are other patients saying?

Focusing solely on other dentists’ opinions of your work, rather than the opinions of your own patients, may well drive you to drinking, drugging—or becoming a faculty member at your dental school. It’s far better to place your focus on impressing your own patients by minimizing their pain and cost while maximizing efficiency—preferably with same-day treatment.