Quality Dental Care vs Suitable Dental Care: What is the difference?

As a dentist and father of a college student who lives out of state, imagine my dilemma when my son called and told me he broke his upper front center tooth off.  He was in a considerable amount of pain, but there was not anything I could physically do to help him from half way across the country.  The dentist in me wanted to fix it myself because I knew that I could give him the care and attention that I give to all of my patients.  I would fix him up and alleviate the pain immediately.  Furthermore, being his father, I would be extra careful and pay a great deal of attention to getting him comfortable and fixing his tooth so it looked as good as or better than it did prior to the breakage. 

So after calling around to a couple of people who I knew lived in the area, I settled on a dentist that was about a mile from his college campus. I talked to the doctor, explained the situation and asked him to take good care of my son and to give me a call afterwards to fill me in on what he did to correct the tooth.  .

The doctor did not call me after the treatment, so I called my son and asked him how it went.  Shockingly he told me that the dentist did not fix the tooth.  Instead the dentist took a set of x-rays and cleaned his teeth and did some model work but did not treat the broken tooth. 

So I called up the doctor and asked why he did not treat my son for his broken tooth as requested.   The doctor told me that he did not fix the tooth right away because he wants all of his patients to have a “quality dental experience”.  So instead of treating my son as the emergency patient he was, he treated him as a new patient.  Later, after I had calmed down, I asked myself, did he really give my son a “quality dental experience”? 

My answer to this question is maybe.   

I am sure the doctor felt he gave my son a quality dental experience.  So maybe a better question to ask is, did my son have a suitable dental experience?  My son broke his tooth and was in pain, and, at the bare minimum needed a temporary fix to get him comfortable and get him back to living the life of a college student.  Instead he was essentially denied the treatment that was requested and necessary. 

I called another dentist in the area and explained the situation. This dentist said, “Send him over and I will take care of him right away”.  After the appointment, I called my son to ask him how this dental visit went.  He said it went great, they got him in right away and bonded his tooth back together. In about thirty minutes had the tooth looking good as new.

So, in my opinion there are two experiences occurring here.   Quality is what the dentist experienced.  Suitability is what the patient experienced.


As a local dentist near you, our goal is for you to have both a quality and a suitable dental experience. By that I mean that when you come to our office and there is something that you want or need us to address, that is what we will want to take care of first. 

For example; if you are getting ready for your wedding and you have a discolored tooth in front, you do not want your dentist doing a filling on your back tooth, and thus, delaying the procedure you wanted. If you come in to have your front tooth fixed, you should be able to get your front tooth fixed.  Then, later when it is more convenient or when your budget allows, you can come in and take care of the next issue. 

Suitable dental care is the kind of dental care that gives you what you want, when you want it.  Quality dental care is the knowledge and experience of the dentist and his team. 

Dentists are perfectionists by nature, but dentistry is not an exact science.  A dentist is also part artist.  They want veneers and crowns to be perfectly shaped. They want the margins to be exact. They want the shine of your teeth to be brilliantly white.  Sometimes dentists get so focused on giving quality dental care for their patients, but forget to take care of what their patients really want. 

As dentists, we need to listen to our patients and we need to be able to take care of them for what they want in a conservative and efficient manner. We need to take care of their primary concerns first and not get caught up in our quality dental care concerns.

Ideally there will be a synergistic effect.  First, the patient will have a wonderful suitable dental experience and walk out of the dental office happy and more confident. Secondly, when you are providing patients suitable dental care you have the opportunity to provide quality dental care that you can be proud of.  So when you are searching for a local dentist near you, be sure they are paying attention to what you want and what you need, at a time that is convenient for you. 

At Thomas L Anderson DDS and Associates, we offer quality dental care focused on prevention, restoration and enhancement. For additional details… http://www.theperfectsmilekc.com/services/