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Things to think about when deciding on a dentist in the Okanagan

Deciding on a dentist

Perhaps you are new to the Okanagan and need a dentist.

Or maybe you are a born-and-bred Okanagan native looking for a new dentist. Or maybe you’ve never had a regular dentist, and now you are trying to figure out how to decide. It is not always easy, and there is a lot of choice.

Most dentists offer similar services, have hygienists on staff for regular cleanings, and aim to give you the best service, smile and experience they can. So what differentiates one from another?

Jason Witzel, who is the managing director at Landmark Dental Centre, offers a new perspective in how you might choose a dentist in the Okanagan in this question-and-answer feature.

Q: What makes a good dentist?

A: A good dentist is a relative term. The question should be: What makes a good dentist for me? At a basic level, people look for a dentist close to their work or home. They want a dental office that accommodates their schedule—open early morning or into the evening. Not everyone can get away from work during the weekdays. Ideally, you can find a dental office that friends or colleagues have recommended. Trust is a core part of the patient-dentist experience, and a recommendation is a good starting point. So my short answer is that a good dentist is one that is both convenient and with whom you can establish strong trust.

Q: How do you build trust in that relationship?

A: An excellent question, and one with no single answer for sure. Getting a good experience, with good results, over time, is the easy answer. But that does not help when choosing a dentist. What I can say, though, is that at Landmark Dental we thought hard about this and took a fairly unique approach to ensuring we build strong dentist, patient relationships. What we did was to focus on the ‘how’ over the ‘what’—putting the behaviours and values we believe make a great dentist and a great relationship before everything else. We distilled these into what has become our four core values as an office. They are what we live by and what we measure ourselves against. These are RESPECT, INTEGRITY, INNOVATION and TRUST. I believe that the first three values create the last—the trust.

Q: Can you expand on that?

A: The first value, respect, speaks to how we should interact with each other and patients, remembering that everyone is an individual with their own circumstances, fears, concerns, likes and dislikes, and all deserve respect. Being busy, having someone ask a lot of questions, or even someone not liking going to the dentist does not change this. We strive to ensure every interaction is a professional and respectful one.

Integrity follows respect. While respect can be viewed as an external behaviour, integrity is the internal behaviour. It is taking the time to consistently do what is right, even when it is difficult. It is always putting the patients’ health as your top priority. It is living up to what is expected in a health-care professional. Dentistry, in particular, is an odd service in that most patients couldn’t really tell you what was done in their mouth beyond the basics. It’s a bit like taking your car into a mechanic; you simply take their word for what was wrong and what the fix is. In either case, knowing that the person and business helping you place high value in personal responsibility, accountability and standards of behaviour—in other words, integrity—is a must for peace of mind and overall satisfaction.

And while innovation, our third core value, may seem a bit out of place, it is actually critical and integrated with our other values. If a better tool or procedure exists to do any job, you would be doing a disservice by not using the better tool or method. In order to confidently say ‘We did our best for you,’ we need to know we are using the best methods, materials and tools for the job. This is where innovation comes in. By embedding innovation in our core values, we are reminding ourselves to always stay on top of the most recent science and developments in the field in order to best serve our patients. Without this continual learning and advancement, we would not be providing the best service possible. It is as simple as that.

Q: That explains integrity, respect and innovation, but what about trust?

A: Well, trust really does come last, because it is built on the other three core values. If you know you are dealing with people of high integrity, always putting your health as the top priority, who have committed to staying current with the best practises, and who you know will treat you with respect, that is a foundation for trust. You cannot have trust that you will get the best results unless you also have integrity, respect and a commitment to current best practises, or innovation.

Q: OK, so those are your values. How are they actually implemented?

A: Like most things, it’s time and effort. We measure our own behaviour against those values, asking: Did you/I act with respect, integrity, innovation and trust in that circumstance? It is, in short, our measuring stick for success. Additionally, when we hire, we hire for those shared values. For example, our newest dentist, Dr. Alanna Head, is not only a top achiever academically and excited to be in the field, but demonstrated those core values in her actions and answers when we were in the hiring process. Without those, she would not be the newest dentist at Landmark Dental Centre. So by putting a constant ‘filter’ on how we look at behaviour, interactions and others’ values, we can ensure that these core values are attracted, nourished and rewarded. This is, in my view, how Landmark Dental Centre and all its staff and dentists stand apart. We understand the importance of trust in the dentist-patient relationship, what builds that trust and have embedded that into how we define ourselves.

Q: Is Landmark Dental taking new patients now?

A: With Dr. Alanna Head recently joining our team, she is accepting new patients. Additionally, she works the afternoons until 8 p.m. and until 6 p.m on Friday, making it easier to find a time that works for most people. We welcome your call at 778-760-5093 or email to [email protected].

This article is written by or on behalf of the sponsoring client and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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