It is not uncommon for patients to come to my office for a second opinion. Some times they want a confirmation about a diagnosis they have already received. Other times they have been given a treatment plan by another dentist that will be costly and time consuming. Patients often show up for a second opinion about a particular tooth or bridge that has been bothering them and they would like my thoughts about their particular situation. Usually they have already consulted another dentist about their problem, but are not entirely satisfied with what they have been told. For those patients who have been to a prior dentist and received an extensive and costly treatment plan, usually they would like to know my thoughts about what has been proposed and want to explore other alternative solutions.
When treating my own patients I encourage a second opinion if I have presented a treatment plan and a patient seems uncertain about what I am proposing or if they are having trouble committing to my plan. I am always more comfortable moving forward with a procedure if the patient and I are on the same page. If they seem uncertain about what I have proposed, then possibly the best thing is for them to seek a second or even a third opinion. As long as no emergency treatment immediately needed, then a second opinion can be a good idea if only to reassure the patient.
Often I use specialists for my second opinions. I refer patients to specialist when a tooth might still have a guarded or questionable prognosis even If I chose to treat it. In that event, I tend to suggest a visit to an appropriate specialist for a second opinion, prior to commencing my treatment.
Often it is good for me and the patient to hear a second opinion concerning a tooth or teeth that may or may not respond favorable to a given treatment. Dentists have choices to make about treatments.. Often decisions can be best determined after a consult with the appropriate specialist. The adage ‘Two heads are better than one” definitely can apply.
Another reason for a referral is that some treatment plans can involve one or more specialists. In this case a team approach is the best and usually its best to get the specialists involved early in the treatment planning.