Two days ago one of my patients told me that he discovered a new amazing way to clean his dentures. The educating article (I will post the link here when he forwards it to me) based on a deep research – NOT! – suggests that there’s no better way to clean your dentures than to soak them in …. milk. Yes, milk! The one you pour on your cereal and add to your coffee! Ok, you might say, it cannot be that bad; maybe there is a positive aspect to it.
Let me explain something. Our mouths are full of anaerobic bacteria, bacteria that do not live or grow in the presence of oxygen. In addition, on a microscopic level, the material used to make dentures has a porous structure, so any bacteria that thrive in a sweet or acid environment will spread faster than lightning if, instead of using —— , you soak your dentures in milk. So how ethical it is to give advice if you either don’t know what you are talking about or are purposely offering a harmful recommendation?
A recent article by NY Times Magazine is another example of “great advice”.
“I always took care of my teeth,” says a 73-year-old woman. But even so, she was told she needed a crown — an artificial cap — at a cost of about $2,000.” And the next sentence tells us that “since she and her husband lack dental coverage, she opted for a less expensive filling.”
You don’t have to read the entire article to understand the quality of advice that is being provided. If you always take care of your teeth, you will not need a crown all of a sudden. Moreover, you cannot replace a crown with a filling – it’s like replacing a cast with a bandage. The only reason such a suggestion could be made is not to lose a customer and to make as much cash as possible rather than letting them go.
So, can we put the blame on our patient who intends to clean his dentures with milk or can we blame the old woman for trusting her dentist who offers ineffective preventive treatments, and now recommends replacing a crown with a filling? Or perhaps we should ask ourselves whether the definition of a word “professional” is lost, and real professionalism is buried under the piles of marketing and sales tactics that companies use to attract patients.
So, how do you define “professional”?
As clients and patients, we have to understand that while our subjective feelings and experience might define the quality of one type of service, this cannot be applied to other services. For example, we can be objective when it comes to food or, let’s say, a haircut. You either like it or not. But can you give an objective opinion on the work of your car mechanic if you have no idea what’s under the hood? The answer is no, and you will base your judgement on something you can like or dislike, such as an appearance of the shop, a polite receptionist, and other details that have no relation to how well your car is going to perform.
Unfortunately, most medical care providers try to sell you on experience. We believe that, when it comes to your health, the actual service must go first: an uncompromising approach to patients’ health and well-being rather than a jar of sweets on the receptionist’s desk.
Wikipedia tells us that “a professional is a member of a profession. The term also describes the standards of education and training that prepare members of the profession with the particular knowledge and skills necessary to perform the role of that profession. In addition, most professionals are subject to strict codes of conduct enshrining rigorous ethical and moral obligations.”
So how do you find a person that has knowledge and skills, follows strict codes of conduct and bases their practice on ethical and moral obligations?
We believe that education is the only way to make the right decisions. Living in an information age can bring as much disadvantage as advantage. It’s all about your approach to information. Educate yourself. Learn more about the service provider you are choosing. And try to stay impervious to the wrap that marketing pros use as a bait for naive patients.
Do you think that there is a shortage of true professionals in our times? Share your tips on finding professional service providers.