Written By Dr. Steve Pleickhardt
American Dental Associates
No matter where you live in the world- one axiom holds true: Everyone should see the dentist at least twice a year for a proper cleaning and examination of the teeth.
Living overseas can make obtaining care a daunting task due to communication; technical level, and knowledge base of the practitioner. This brief guide should help you to ask the right questions before engaging foreign dental care.
Not every dental office is created the same- not even in the United States. However, specific Federal and State laws in the US ensure that dental offices are hygienically safe and that the treatment rendered is of a very high caliber. To become a dentist in America requires a combined eight years of college and professional school – one of the highest education requirements in the world for the profession.
Globally, dental care can vary drastically between countries. In Europe, EU will eventually have to establish standards of care for its existing member states and new candidates. Admission to the EU does not currently mandate levels of education or performance standards for health care providers. So what to do while overseas? Try to find an office that upholds the following:
INFECTION CONTROL: all dental offices in the US are using the standard called: Universal Infection Control. This means use of dental gloves & protective eyewear, along with disposable and heat sterilizable equipment to prevent the spread of blood-born bacterial and viral diseases in the dental setting. What You Should Look For: Make sure that the doctor and staff wear new disposable gloves with each patient. Check to see that all metallic instruments are packed in their own plastic packages- including the dental drills. Open instruments may be an indication that the office may be compromising the way it sterilizes and could pose a threat for the patients health. What You Should Ask : How does the office sterilize their equipment? Only visit those places that autoclave all their instruments including the slow and high-speed drills that they use. Offices in compliance are more than happy to give you a tour of their sterilization area and explain how they handle the issue of infection control.
COMMUNICATION: there is nothing worse than to have a dental problem and not to be able to explain the situation or understand what the doctor is proposing as treatment. The better the lines of communication between you and your health professional- the more comfort you will have knowing that your dental needs are met. What To Look For: Dental offices that advertise in English language publications. Offices that answer their phones in English. What to Ask: Can the doctor/ staff write a brief report in English for your dentist back home? Does the doctor speak English? Are the forms you have to fill out before your visit in English? Will the office give a written estimate for future treatment in English? Can I communicate with the dental office via email or a website?
TECHNOLOGY/TRAINING/APPROACH: This is what the essence of a dental visit boils down to. Your care is only as good as the staffxs medical knowledge; their treatment approach and implementation of available technology. There is a huge variance between countries on all these points.
What To Look For: Western trained dental staff, modern office with recent to latest equipment. What To Ask: Where was the doctor trained? How old is the doctor? What new technology does the office have? Do you take digital or regular x-rays? While not a guarantee of quality- offices that have the latest equipment tend to care more about the level of treatment they provide. Dentists who are between the ages of 30-55 are in their professional prime in terms of experience and expertise.
EMERGENCY SERVICES: It can happen to anyone- a late night toothache that just wonxt quit. What to do when that need arises? Best to have a relationship with a dental office that has twenty-four hour services before the event. What To Look For: Offices which advertise non-stop emergency service. What To Ask: What is the surcharge and procedure for coming in after hours. Is service available during the weekend and holidays?
GUARANTEE OF SERVICES: In the States is not uncommon to have certain warranties for limited services provided by a dental office. What To Look For: Offices that guarantee fillings for 1 year, Crowns for 2 or more years. What To Ask: What is the exact mechanism for replacement care?
Are there any fees associated with the replacement? What will void the warranty for a given treatment?
Of course there are many other factors that are interwoven into a dental visit that are too numerous to mention here. The five critical areas that listed are the really big issues when interfacing with any dental office whether it be in the United States or in Czech Republic. Having a quick reference list of critical items to review before treatment is initiated may turn a stressful dreaded dental visit into a positive reinforcing experience!
Top 5 Things When Searching for a Dental Office
1. Infection Control
4. Emergency Services
5. Peace of Mind- Guaranteed Dental Services
This Article was written by Dr. Steve Pleickhardt
CEO and founder of American Dental Associates
4/1031 V Celnice, Nove Mesto Prague 1
Czech Republic 110 00.
American Dental Associates is affiliated with Canadian Medical Center and Prague Plastic Surgery Clinic at Průhonice. For more information please visit our inactive website; www.AmericanDental.cz