What is your risk profile?


I have a very good friend who was in the armed services. On a visit to an airbase, he noticed one of the trainer aircraft sitting in the corner of a giant hangar. He asked, “What’s wrong with that one?”

The response was interesting … Apparently, this aircraft had been flown as part of the training program when on one occasion, one of the student aviators had a midair ‘incident’ in the plane. The plane didn’t crash, and no one was hurt, with the exception of the aircraft. However, the mid-air incident resulted in a manoeuvre that stressed the airframe to 5.98G. So, what’s the big deal? The airframe is rated to 6G. The plane had gone so close to its physical limits that none of the engineers would sign off on the aircraft being safe to fly again.

So, what has this got to do with teeth? It’s about risk.

I frequently consult with people who have lost teeth, have difficult bites, or have a back to the wall dentally in some shape or form. I feel for many of these people, and often, their restorative options may also be limited by the anatomical or physiologic circumstances surrounding the problem. So what can we do?

Determine the patient’s risk profile. Whatever the patient decides in these kinds of difficult circumstances, they will almost inevitably be going out on some form of a limb. Our job as dentists is to develop solutions that are simple but creative and then put forth these options, clearly stating what the risks are and which options carry the highest risk. Almost always,

the patient knows what is best for them. It’s a classic case of the patient knowing themselves better than we know them – let them decide.

One last factor: “if everything fell apart – how far would the patient fall?” When discussing these kinds of (or any) treatment options – I always have a back-stop: a fall-back position that I can guide the patient to in the worst-case scenario… and I talk with the patient about it before treatment.

This article was originally published here at intouch Magazine.


Alex has had a career focused on low-biologic cost reconstructive cosmetic dental care – common sense teeth for life. Alex services clients in the Hunter Valley, Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and Maitland areas.

For more information about our treatments or to book an appointment please don’t hesitate to call us on (02) 4946 9122