The Dawson Academy Blog

Dental Articles on Occlusion, Centric Relation, Restorative Dentistry & More

Return to Blog Index

Standard of Care vs. Standard of Caring

Hello I’m Dr. Paul Homoly. I recently watched the 2019 US Figure Skating Championships. My wife Sweet Lisa and I curled up on the couch, a few of our cats joined us, and we spent a mellow evening watching this country’s finest figure skaters. I like it when TV commentators are former Olympians. They spot crucial distinctions in athlete’s performances that can result in gold medals or no medals at all.

Distinctions create champions

These distinctions seem like little things; like how a skater will enter a jump or how they connect with the crowd. It turns out it’s the little things, these distinctions, that create champions. It’s true in dentistry too. For example, distinctions in occlusal patterns, or density of bone when placing implants, or the wear facets on posterior teeth. These distinctions, these little things, turn out to be big things, don’t they? Astute distinctions in diagnosis and treatment create clinical champions.

In this video and many to follow I’m going to point out some critical distinctions related to case acceptance. Some may seem like little things. These may seem trivial to some dentists but not to those who aspire to become champions.

What is the difference?

The first distinction I want to make is the difference between standard of care vs Standard of Caring.

Standard of care relates to clinical diagnosis, treatment planning, treatment, and post-operative care.

Standard of Caring is consistently producing dental care experiences that signal to patients they’re being well cared for. Standard of Caring are behavioral issues relating to the quality of patients’ dental care experiences. It’s human nature to want to be well cared for. There are times when your standard of care can camouflage your Standard of Caring.

Our nomenclature is not our patients' nomenclature

Students of complete care dentistry learn a very linear, cognitive approach to clinical standards of care. We learn rigid protocols relative to diagnosis, sterile technique, occlusion, airway management, preparation design, and all the technique-sensitive processes to produce high quality clinical outcomes. These protocols have specific nomenclature and require high levels of attention to details.

Unfortunately, the rigidity and complexity that complex treatment requires can spill over into how we talk to our patients. They don’t have tenacious attachments to rigid protocols nor do they understand our specific nomenclature.

Don't get caught in this blind spot

Consequently, when we offer them care we mistakenly attempt to bring them into our world of specifics, details, and rigid protocols. This doesn’t give them the experience of being understood. It often distances them from us and resistant to our treatment recommendations.

We unintentionally camouflage our Standard of Caring with conversations about standard of care. This is the big blind spot for complex care practitioners. They believe by educating complex care patients to technical details influences them to accept care. If you’ve been in practice for more than a few years you already know this isn’t true.

Remember to keep technicalities and specifics in proportion

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not at all suggesting you abandon patient education or consent conversations. It’s a matter of proportion. How much time and effort do you put into discussions of technical details versus the time and effort you put into understanding patients and giving experiences they’ll be well cared for.

To consistently experience case acceptance from complex care patients you must offer proportional experiences and conversations about standard of care and Standard of Caring. Our next Video lessons will illustrate other distinctions in dentistry and how will they advance your Standard of Caring. Thanks for listening.

To learn more about patient communication, join fellow Dawson Academy Colleagues in Dr. Homoly's online course, Making it Easy for Patients to say Yes! Join Here!

Career Satisfaction Quiz