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Letters: DIY dentistry

October 01, 2018 It was with frustration that I read the piece (“ADA Launches Public Awareness Campaign Discouraging DIY Dentistry,” Aug. 20 ADA News) on do-it-yourself dentistry. I feel that this trend is, in part, fueled by the commoditization of dentistry that has been promulgated by third-party payers. If the care and treatment that we provide is viewed only as a commodity, then why not pay the lowest bidder or, better yet, do it yourself? While as clinicians we know better, in that we understand the element of skill and clinical judgment involved in quality care, it is in the interest of third-party payers that this attitude become the new paradigm. If they can convince the patient that a crown is just a crown, a partial is a partial and that an implant is just a screw to be screwed in by anyone, they win and the patient loses.

While this phenomenon is most recently prevalent in ortho, it will only be a matter of time before it metastasizes to other disciplines of dentistry.

I cannot look through a professional dental journal without seeing some article on sleep dentistry. While I have been providing care for sufferers of sleep apnea for nearly three decades and have good relationships with many local referring sleep physicians, I have all but given up on promoting it in my practice beyond educating patients about the disease, its risks and encouraging them to seek care.

It is impossible for me to provide the needed care when patients are inundated by media ads for over-the-counter appliances that meet no Food and Drug Administration standard and sell for one-third of my lab costs alone. I am put in the awkward situation of defending my fee to a patient, who despite extensive education, is not in a position to understand the difference. And that is exactly the position that third-party payers and sellers of these goods want us in.

Tracy Oliver, D.D.S.
Virginia Beach, Virginia