Dentistry Then, Dentistry Now
: Dentists would not allow the patient to take an active role in planning their own treatment, nor would would they take into account the patient's individual wishes and demands.
Dentists nowadays have a much better understanding of patient psychology. Modern dentists realize that if the patient is involved in the care they are receiving, then they will understand it better and the final outcome will be better as well. What patients really want is to be understood by their dentist, and to have their needs addressed in a way that is realistic, and that fits their budget, lifestyle, etc. In fact, this is what any human being would want. It would be hypocritical for us dentists to ignore the personal aspect of patient treatment. Modern dentists really emphasize patient participation in their own care, customer service, and seek to take away the negative stereotypes surrounding dentistry.
Then: Dentistry in the "old days" was a lot more painful.
Now: with modern anesthetic techniques, dentistry really does not have to be painful at all. Occasionally there may be discomfort, but it should never be "painful." In fact, one of our philosophies is to never work on a patient until they are 100% numb, even if it means waiting an extra hour and getting behind in our schedule. We have new tools which make injection pain thing of the past. The patient comes first!
Then: In the old days, dentists had limited hours of operation. They were usually open 3-4 days a week, from 8-4. Weekend and evening hours were almost unheard of.
Now: Ever since the economy went down the toilet, Americans have had to work longer hours to maintain their standard of living. This meant that they may only have time to see the doctor or the dentist in the evening or on weekends. The modern dentist understands this, and seeks to accommodate this shift in work hours. Thus, we are open on weekends and in the evening because we are in tune with the fact these hours are more convienient for a significant portion of the American population. As a husband and a father myself, I'm all too familiar with being too busy to see the doctor, dentist hair stylist, etc., and am very appreciative of evening and weekend hours when available.
Then: In the past, dentists had the ability to charge high fees because patients could afford it. Dentists would charge their high fees, and if a patient couldn't afford it, they would be politely told to go somewhere else.
Now: As I alluded to above, with the economy the way it is, it really is unrealistic to expect the average person to pay 1400$ for a crown out of pocket. Modern dentists (hopefully) are in touch with this reality and are able to accommodate their patients, either with in-house membership plans that offer significant discounts, or payment plans, etc. The attitude of "these are my fees, take it or leave it" has been fading in these difficult economic times.