I ask this question to patient’s everyday. When given the choice between being healthy and being sick, which one would you choose? Each and every time they choose health. The next question that I ask is what are you doing about it to improve your chances?
Health is a function of participation. In the book, Human Lifestyling in the 20th Century, John McCamy writes that a person was at the doctor for a check up and on his way home or the next day he had a heart attack. Now what that doctor did was to certify that he was ok at the moment by using his stethoscope or his electro cardiograph machines, both disease detection tools could pick up for something had been going on inside that patient for a long time, because heart disease doesn’t appear overnight. The patient must have had something going on to cause this heart attack for some time in the form of symptoms but he did not recognize its significance.
In the application of this example to the dental office, I have never seen a patient that came to see me and said, “Doc, I hope that you find something wrong with me because I love this experience”. They want no dentistry. After practicing dentistry for just two years I hated it because I felt like I was just finding something to do on these people that surely needed to be done, but something that the people I was serving were unhappy to hear about. Then I learned that there was a way (system) in which to help people get what they wanted, and that was no dentistry.
By helping people understand that they are the answer to their health and all I have to do is teach and coach them, I can help them break out of the disease cycle if they are diseased or if they are healthy, to help them stay that way. (In most cases dental disease, cavities, are self induced.) This is called Health Centered dentistry as opposed to the traditional model that we come out knowing well in dental school, called Repair Centered Dentistry.
What happens in our training is that we learn to fix things without asking the questions: Why is this happening? What is the cause?
By getting to the cause of the problem and helping the patient take control of their disease we can reverse this and help people to stay healthy long-term. In this day and age, where we have managed care telling us what we can do, and what they will pay for and not pay for, by helping people to take control of their own health, they will not need repair. They in turn will not care whether they have dental insurance because they won’t need it because they have broken out of the disease cycle. This works very well with other issues like heart disease as well, working with health centered physicians as well. Great concept right? Learning that you are the cure will help you take control of your heath.