The Disciplined Diagnostic Assessment

Is this diagnostic discipline widespread and a standard of care? Sadly, no it is not. Actually, orthodontics is considered the most demanding and difficult of all dental specialties that requires non-stop thinking and assessment initially and throughout the entire process.

It takes time to properly assess the problem, care in developing an appropriate plan of care, and careful communication to enhance a functional understanding. It has often been said that dentistry is the largest medical specialty. In my opinion, orthodontics should be a medical specialty demanding more assessment and care than currently exists in the marketplace.

We are now seeing the implementation of the corporate structure in medicine and dentistry. As corporations go, the business model is one of production.

Several years ago I got caught up in that management style so I could spend more time seeing patients and let others manage the business of healthcare; meaning corporate management. Several of my colleagues had made the decision to move in that direction, so I followed suit. It did not take me very long to realize that the doctor – patient relationship suffered along with the quality of care throughout the industry. The time the doctor had with each patient could be measured in seconds.

A non- orthodontic specialist was achieving better results than the university trained specialist. Ah, the temptations in the market place are driven by the pressure to produce according to insurance mandates that says to the provider: “accept a lesser fee and make it up in volume.” This is impossible to do when one considers the need for a thorough diagnostic assessment and plan of care. We have learned that what an orthodontist does or does not do can affect a patient for the rest of their lives either positively or negatively.