From a purely scientific point of view, we can certainly affirm that dentistry is substantially similar all over the world in terms of training, qualification, and professional registration requirements.
That said, the approaches to patient care are multiple and correlated to various factors, among which the cultural vision of the reference nation certainly stands out. Some countries, in fact, only recognize the functional aspect of the teeth, so in these areas, dentists focus on purely essential treatments: in other countries, on the other hand, the aesthetic aspect is emphasized, so dentists, in addition to traditional treatments, offer aesthetic and dental cosmetic services.
Furthermore, from the point of view of the organization of outpatient clinics in which dentists actually perform the related treatments, geographical differences play a strategic role.
In particular, in this article we want to draw a comparison between the US and the European context, to highlight the major differences, but at the same time underline the trends of the market at a global level and offer some food for thought on the needs of dental practices, not only present, but also future.
Being able to look beyond one’s borders and compare different experiences allows you to draw valuable insights to improve your daily business.
Secondly, being attentive to new trends on a global level allows us to be pioneers in introducing new international trends in our field and territory, investing in cutting-edge technologies and equipment capable of offering patients the highest standard of performance.
If we think of American dental practices, the first image that comes to mind is undoubtedly that of an open space environment with a clean and minimal design setting combined with highly reliable products to minimize particularly critical assistance interventions in consideration of the vastness of the territory.
The concept of the organization of the American dental practice tends to focus on a stand-alone chair in the center of the area around which all the equipment is placed on completion: furniture, side distribution instruments mainly with hanging cables and with garage cart, ceiling lamp, independent wall or portable suction, etc.
In that context, the dentist is used to working with a prevalent orientation at 12 o’clock and often without an assistant. The concept described above is therefore highly functional, designer, and highly reassuring as the instruments are placed away from the chair and therefore out of sight of the patient.
All this makes the difference with the classic European context to which we tend to be used very clearly, where the traditional “all in one” unit dominates the center of the clinic, which, as the word itself suggests, groups in a single product, basically equipped with a water unit and basin, numerous accessories and related tools.
The operator is usually oriented to work between 9 and 11 o’clock and almost always uses the assistant.
However, the differences between these two geographical scenarios are not static and immutable.
Today, more than ever, it is possible to observe in Europe, and mainly in the Nordic countries, a growing trend of American-style dental practice organization. The reason is mainly related to hygiene reasons (especially in times of pandemic the tendency is, where possible, to abandon the basin and/or the whole water unit), and to new trends in the dental field related to cosmetics, aesthetics, and dental prosthetics, implantology, and outpatient oral surgery. These latest growing developments in the field of dental services, including high-paying ones, are certainly sensitizing the operator to create ad hoc outpatients’ clinics, with smarter and more dedicated equipment, without the need to immobilize the main unit, which can continue to be used for its intrinsic functions.
Finally, we want to close this comparison, by mentioning curiosities and peculiar facts about the dental practice from all over the world.
First, after having talked about the diversity of organization and approaches in dental practices, it is impossible not to mention those areas of the world where one can do without surgeries, because even today dentistry is a walking practice, which very often takes place open air.
In fact, in the less urbanized areas of the Asian, African, or South American continents it is possible to come across dentists who travel from village to village and who, in the absence of other accommodations, such as mobile clinics, offer dental care on the street.
Another trend coming from the extra-European world, which is becoming increasingly popular also in Europe, is that relating to conscious sedation.
Many will have seen in an American film that patients in the dental office are anesthetized by inhaling gas from a mask, sometimes with effects purposely exaggerated to be funny on the big screen.
What is used is nitrous oxide mixed with oxygen which, in addition to relaxing patients and making them less sensitive to pain and more cooperative, can also give a slight feeling of euphoria as a side effect.
In our country too, this solution, even if marginally, for now, is beginning to be used in dental offices, especially in cases of dental phobia, in which the patient has difficulty approaching dental treatment.
Finally broadening our perspective and leaving the dentist’s office to turn our gaze to the more general theme of the dental health of the population, perhaps not everyone knows that in some countries in the world, the drinking water that reaches the homes of citizens is added with fluoride.
The so-called “water fluoridation”, a widespread practice for example in the United States, in some parts of the United Kingdom, and Australia, serves – according to its supporters – to prevent the formation of cavities in children and, in general, in the entire population.
A type of prevention on which not everyone agrees, and which has never actually taken hold outside the English-speaking countries. In this regard, Germany and France have expressly prohibited this practice.