Philosophy of Care

Minimally Invasive Dentistry

Your own teeth are the best things to have in your mouth.

My philosophy is conservative when it comes to my patients’ teeth; I believe in minimally invasive dentistry.

Minimally invasive dentistry is a philosophy that you remove as little tooth structure as possible for the health of the tooth and believes that what God gave us is usually the best thing. It’s best to have your own gums, your own bone, your own teeth. There are situations where those things are compromised and then we have to replace or repair them.

Importance of a Pleasing Smile

When people look at other people, the first thing that they look at, according to psychologists, is their eyes. This is what babies do when they look at their mom and recognize their mom from other people.

The next thing people look at is the smile. A pleasing smile makes an important impression.

Involving Patient Participation

Another part of my practice is to involve my patients in the work that is being done to their teeth. I have mirrors on all of my patient lights as well as intra-oral cameras so the patient can watch while I’m doing the exam and while I’m doing many procedures (though I don’t let them watch injections or extractions).

I think I’m the only dentist in North Idaho who uses these mirrors this way. The mirrors let them own the treatment, they can actually see what I’m doing. As well as a being a great tool for communication, it’s also a lot more accountability for me not to make a mistake. If they have a question, they can ask during the procedure rather than after it’s all done. About half my patients now choose to watch the procedures.

Specialist Involvement

I have learned to focus on the things that I can do as well as a specialist. The parts of dentistry that I can’t do as well, I refer to a specialist.

Personal Study

I’ve been in study clubs for more than 10 years and I’m currently in a local study club with other dentists in the area that are interested in the same things.

We meet once every 6-8 weeks for several hours in which we either have a speaker come in or we have webinars where we view an international speaker. Once we hear the speaker, we discuss the ideas presented.

An important part of dentistry is staying on top of the new procedures, tools, and materials that are being invented and discovered.

We also present difficult cases that we’ve encountered and talk about alternate ways to deal with the problems we hear about.

Each Natural Tooth Is Unique

Natural Teeth. Each one is like a work of art and will have multiple colors running through it. It’s like a pearl or an opal; it has opalescence.

If you hold a pearl up to the light and the light shines through it, you’ll see rainbow colors.

I want to preserve each tooth. When preservation isn’t possible, I want to create a tooth in its place that has the same properties of their natural teeth.

You can read more about the materials I use to achieve this look in the Dental Crowns section of the website.

My Patients

I really enjoy dentistry but I love connecting with my patients. I enjoy listening to them and getting to know them.

It’s a wonderful thing to be able to have the skills to fix teeth but it’s an even more wonderful thing to earn the trust of my patients so they feel like they can open their mouth and allow me to help them. They don’t teach you that personal connection approach in dental school although it seems like the most important part of the work.

I have digital x-rays, digital panoramic and all the images are stored digitally. Charts are also digital. However, all the electronics in the world will not allow one to bridge the gap between doctor and patient. First I need to understand what it is you want and then actually reproduce it in your mouth.

The dentist has an idea of what the teeth should look like and the patient has an idea of what they want their teeth to look like. The difference might be miles apart. It’s my job to give the patient the smile that they want, not the smile that I think would be best.

It’s very satisfying to explain to a patient “this is what we’re going to do”, then actually do it, and then hear them say, “yes, that’s what I wanted”. It comes down to communication and to liking people. I really like people, I want them to be happy.

One of the reasons I’m a dentist is that I had the greatest dentist as a kid back in Minnesota while all my friends had grumpy dentists that were yelling at them and scolding them for one thing or another. I’m not a grumpy dentist. It’s my style to be positive, supportive and helpful.

That’s the way my staff is too; my hygienists and my front office. We look at the whole patient and support their decisions. When we see a patient for the first time, it’s important to find out what concerns them. A lot of people aren’t concerned with cosmetic dentistry; they are only interested in having teeth that work and they don’t want them whiter and they don’t want them straighter necessarily. After I explain all the options to them, if they still feel that way, I honor their priorities. Once I find out what a patient’s priorities are, I will explain if they have a condition that’s going to get worse without intervention. They may want to ignore it, so then I will monitor the situation and keep them updated each visit.

On the other hand, one idea of cosmetic dentistry is just to have a pleasant smile. Some patients may just want to have a good looking smile and don’t care if they have tooth decay or gum disease. I don’t believe that a singular focus on the smile will serve patients in the long term so I try to help them understand how decay and gum disease will also impact them in the future.

Education is a big part of what I do.