Years ago began a trend of lifetime warranties in the United States on almost anything. Lifetime warranty on tools, lifetime warranty on furniture… and so folks started to ask the doctor… Do you give lifetime warranties also? And so many medics fell for that trick… “Well yeah I can guaranty the work because also the manufacturer of dental pieces said stuff like, this porcelain is the very best and this post is the best, this implant is amazing etc.” This happens with some dentists in USA and also with other dentists in Cancun. So we fell for it thinking these things could last for life, and guess what? Nothing lasts forever! There is not a car, a house, basically nothing that lasts forever, much less human beings, everything deteriorates, and especially in our mouths. It’s the first place the food goes, the first place most medicines or chemicals go, it’s the place where stress is reflected the most when we grind our teeth. In general a lot of pressure is applied in our mouth and especially with people who are going through rough moments of tension and stress… Let’s not forget that nowadays there is a lot more stress than in times past. Social pressures and all the demands we face on a daily basis.
So my complaint is… How can people think that we can really give a lifetime guaranty on things we install in their mouths? We need to remember this is a teamwork situation. So the patient comes in with a problem, and we must remember this… whatever problem he has maybe it’s just one tooth or even the whole mouth but he expects the doctor to fix it quickly and doesn’t want it to hurt and on top of that wants a lifetime warranty. This is a big problem clinically speaking as then the doctor has to come up with justifications like…”wait a minute, you didn’t take care of yourself, you didn’t do this or that…” then there is also a general lack of dental hygiene where in society at large we are in a hurry, or we forget things, or whatever reasons that we create and then we think that with a little mouthwash our mouth is clean and it just isn’t.
In today’s world our mouths suffer much aggression, with chemicals that are in the food, stress, lack of hygiene etc. Even though your mouth has been done over, be it a tooth or two or all of them… What happens? You will suffer the consequences of the above mentioned aggressions. So you go to the dentist after 1 or 2 years and once there you say “But why did this happen? Why do I have a cavity under my crown?” Well the crown doesn’t have a cavity, but you have suffered a gingival recession, you have a cavity because you did not take proper care of your teeth, for not cleaning them enough etc. and so the discussion begins and of course the doctor must be the bad guy. This is one of my biggest complaints during my 25 years as a dentist and I believe this is something you as a dentist have to make clear to your patients from the start. They must understand you are not a magician; you cannot perform miracles, that this is a teamwork situation. If they take good care of their mouths by servicing and giving it needed maintenance, then yes it is different and things can last a long time. But never tell them it will last a lifetime, which is impossible, nothing lasts forever… and the doctor must understand this. I highly recommend that the doctor explains this to his patient, the patient has believed in you and you believe in him and he is paying you. Once money is involved it is no longer altruism, but its business. Yes healthcare is a business but there are also professional ethics involved on the doctors part, that’s where he might say “OK, I will guarantee that if you do this, this, this and this, if you do all these things I can guarantee the product will work.” You can even say “yes porcelains guarantied for up to 5 years, if an implant falls out I will put it back in…” That’s where the doctor’s personal ethics come into play. But he can’t say something like “Once out the door I am no longer responsible for my work.” That would be a low blow. I would advise that you come to a clear understanding with the patient and even put it all in writing and have them sign it, being that words tend to take flight otherwise. This is one of my recommendations and complaints concerning dentistry being that there are too many loopholes and gray areas in dentistry where the rules are just not in writing and we leave it up to the patient, to his or her hygiene or personal habits. Thanks you!