The Value of a Second Opinion
Many people think that the only value of a second opinion is getting a different diagnosis, but that’s not true. A second opinion can help because:
- Confirming a diagnosis and treatment plan can help you commit mentally to what’s next.
- You may get more information about the condition or treatment.
- There are always different treatment ways for dental problems. You deserve to understand the positives and negatives of all your options.
- Doctors may explain the condition or treatment options differently, which may make it clearer in your mind.
Even if you get exactly the same opinion from the second dentist, you will get value out of a second opinion. Just having a different dentist explain the same information will increase your understanding so you can make the right decision, and believe that it is the right decision. Having full confidence in your treatment plan will make it more effective.
When You Need a Second Opinion
Here are some common scenarios where dental patients should ask for a second opinion:
- Dental implants: there are many potential approaches to treatment. Make sure you are getting a treatment plan that factors in the effects of the next 10-20 years to minimize future problems and treatments.
- Cosmetic dentistry: when you are getting a treatment like porcelain veneers, it’s important to talk to a second dentist about your treatment to ensure you will achieve an attractive, natural look, not one that will be visibly artificial. Not all dentists take into account all factors, such as your smile form, facial anatomy, and neuromuscular condition. An imbalanced bite is often responsible for damage to teeth and may damage restorations as well.
- Candidacy for Invisalign and other advanced treatment alternatives: some dentists do not fully understand the potential of new treatment alternatives, and may say they will not give you good results when there are actually ways to achieve good results for your case.
- TMJ treatment—temporomandibular joint disorder is a condition that has many successful treatment options. Conservative treatment options are best. If a dentist is recommending extensive restorations or surgery, it’s best to get a second opinion before going forward with irreversible treatment that may not be necessary for you.
In addition, you should always get a second opinion any time a dentist recommends an irreversible treatment. Make sure it’s the right one.
How to Get a Good Second Opinion
You may wonder how you go about getting a second opinion. If you have a good relationship with your current dentist, you can ask them for recommendations. If you have friends and family who had similar problems treated, ask them whether they would recommend their dentist. If you don’t have good recommendations, you can search online for dentists with specialized training and experience with your condition or treatment.
Once you have found a dentist, make sure you are getting a good second opinion by:
- Bringing up anything the second dentist doesn’t mention, but the first dentist did.
- Asking about the long-term effects of alternate treatments.
- Asking the second dentist for an explanation of the different diagnoses or treatment plans.
If you are still uncertain, don’t hesitate to go back to your first dentist with your second opinion and discuss your options in detail.
Which Dentist Should You Choose?
Deciding whether to go with the first dentist or the second dentist can be the hardest part of getting a second opinion. Here’s how to decide:
- Ask to see before-and-after pictures and testimonials from the dentists’ patients
- Ask to talk to patients who have had these treatments by each dentist
- Make sure both treatment plans are comprehensive and don’t have hidden costs or steps that required but not listed.
- Determine how many office visits each plan requires, and whether the same practitioner will handle all of them or if you will have to visit different offices for some treatment steps.
- Never make a decision based on price alone. Always make sure you are deciding based on the long-term value of treatment.
- Never risk your health by getting treatment with any dentist that doesn’t give you full confidence, no matter how much money you think you may save.
We always encourage our patients to get second opinions but also want to make sure patients are comparing equal treatments. It’s often hard to get an “apples to apples” comparison between treatment plans.
Ultimately, the decision to get any form of dental treatment is yours. Make it wisely.