Q: After 30 years of having me as a patient, my old dentist is ready to retire. He's been reliable and done great work, but now I have to find a new dentist.
I've heard horror stories from other people about bad experiences with dentists, but I have never had a problem myself. Now that I'm facing change, I don't know if I'll continue to have such good luck.
How can I avoid being taken advantage of?
A: For many people, going to the dentist is more intimidating than any other health-related appointment. It involves uncertainty, vulnerability and subjective judgments — all of which can result in dramatic interventions.
In the U.S., there is an additional layer. Solo dentistry practitioners have a surprising lack of oversight, and dental fraud is very hard to protect against.
Although finding a good dentist can be difficult, there are ways to protect yourself. Even if there are some unscrupulous figures, you should be able to find one you can trust.
Be wary of dentists you find through advertisements and deals.
Dentists with large advertising budgets generally have to balance their costs through aggressive revenue strategies, using promotions to get you in the door and then diagnosing expensive dental procedures. Many such operations are part of larger chains that are less focused on quality dentistry than their bottom line.
Assess your new dentist based on your previous baseline.
Unless you're seeking out a new dentist due to specific tooth pain or an obvious problem, your oral health is probably similar to your past results. If your first dental visit to a new place comes with dire news, you should use your common sense. Is what they're saying in line with what you'd expect?
Some recommendations are less than necessary and can be a warning sign. These can include veneers, night guards and the replacement of old fillings.
If you're skeptical of a new dentist, seek out a second opinion. You are legally entitled to a copy of your X-rays (although you may need to pay a fee).
The best way to find a new dentist is through word-of-mouth. Although you can find reviews online, these reviews often don't give you the full picture — whether it be good or bad!
Another option is to ask your retiring dentist for his advice. Many dentists find a successor to inherit their practice, and their heir will be fully vetted.
If in doubt, don't be afraid to get a second opinion! Your dental health is your choice. — Emma, Doug's granddaughter
Q: I used to have a great memory, but entering into my 80s has been rough. I'm no longer as sharp, even if I don't appear to have any signs of dementia. Now that my husband is gone, I find it hard to keep track of the days.
How can I improve my daily memory?
A: One solution is to get in the habit of writing a daily journal.
At the end of every day, dedicate 10 minutes to writing down what you did that day. This exercise will prompt you to practice remembering and give you a record of your activities. It's also a great way to process what happens throughout the course of a day.
Two additional issues for seniors are loneliness and depression, especially for those who live alone. Our moods and outlooks have an impact on our memories and can prevent us from functioning well.
Find activities you can share with others in your community. You should find that socializing and scheduling your day can improve your life — and hopefully your memory, too! — Doug
Doug Mayberry makes the most of life in a Southern California retirement community. Contact him at [email protected] Emma, Doug's granddaughter, helps write this column. To find out more about Doug Mayberry and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
Photo credit: drshohmelian at Pixabay