Academy Responds to Ann Landers column

Dec. 11, 2001
President Zuckerman seeks to clarify misinformation in Decemeber 4th column.

The Academy responds to the December 4 Ann Landers column, "Word of mouth: Look for key signs of a good dentist."

Dear Ann Landers:

As a general dentist of the Academy of General Dentistry, I would like to respond to the December 4 column, "Word of mouth: Look for key signs of a good dentist."

The Academy agrees that consumers should look for signs that their dentist is a caring, quality professional. However, some of the letter's tips are misleading and may cause confusion. Please print these tips so consumers will work with their dentist to receive the best dental care.

1. Share a complete medical history with your dentist. This boosts the quality of dental procedures, including fitting restorations, and can prevent potentially harmful drug interactions that may lead to an increase in pain, swelling or bleeding after a routine procedure.

2. Be honest with your dentist about your lifestyle choices. Do you use tobacco? Do you daily consume 6 or more soft drinks? Your dentist can tell, but the more you tell them the better they can treat you and screen you for health risks.

3. Become a player in your oral health care. Ask about each dental procedure and make sure all questions are answered. Ask your dentist to show you how the office is sterilized. Dentists must follow universal precautions.

4. Resolve concerns. First talk to your dentist. To file a complaint, contact your local dental association. Each state has its own patient relations committee to resolve complaints.

5. Get a second opinion or find a new dentist. Start with a consultation. Note the office environment. Meet the dental team. Does the dentist belong to a dental organization? Take continuing education? What procedures are done in-office, and which ones are sent to a specialist? Schedule an appointment for a general exam.

The Academy cares about the patient-dentist relationship. We can offer these resources:

* By calling 1-877-2X-A-YEAR toll-free, callers can connect with three Academy general dentists, individuals focused on continuing dental education.

* By visiting, consumers can search over 300 oral health topics, post a dental question, or find a dentist.

Best regards,

Howard Zuckerman, DDS, MAGD

President, Academy of General Dentistry