Our patients often ask, “what would you do,” when considering their treatment options. This question usually arises when discussing replacement of missing teeth with dental implants. Another example involves the patient and his/her decision on whether general anesthesia should be part of a treatment or surgery. Fear often complicates making a final decision as well.
This topic is explored at length in the book, “Your Medical Mind.” Here physicians Jerome Groopman and his wife, Pamela Hartzband, offer a road map to guide one’s medical decision making. Their approach is known as, shared medical decision-making, and involves both the doctor and patient reviewing the options and risks and then customizing treatment according to the patients needs and values. The authors note that when a patient wants to know what their doctors think, the answer should be offered once all the information has been presented in a neutral way.
As oral surgeons, we make every attempt to follow this philosophy. Only when all the options and alternatives have been discussed do we offer our opinion. We have found our most successful outcomes result when the patient is an informed and active participant during his or her treatment.