One of the most common mistakes dentists still do, is to start a treatment presentation without having a mental organisation or script of the main areas to be shown to a patient. Doing this 3 stage approach makes ALL the difference…
Problem – First you need to show them what is wrong. To do this you may use patients own photos, an intra-oral camera, patient education videos, x-rays or mounted models. It depends whether it is a simple case or a more comprehensive plan. Whatever you use the patient must be aware of the situation.
Aggravation – OK, so the patient now sees and understands there is a problem in his/her mouth. Now they he or she is probably thinking… ”so how long can I wait to get this solved?” or “ do I really need to get this solved?”. So an ESSENTIAL part is to explain what can happen if nothing is done. For every dental problem that aggravates, there are several consequences that you must explain. Examples:
“When you start to lose some of your teeth you will not only feel uncomfortable smiling but also have difficulties chewing food. Other teeth will usually start to drift and cause even more problems that can lead to other teeth being lost. Also the bone around the lost teeth will start to resorb. The sooner you replace your missing teeth the more bone you can have available to do the procedures easier.”
“If you lose the bone that supports your teeth you can develop gum recession, an older appearance and even lose your teeth. Bone loss can also make the placement of dental implants more difficult. The sooner you treat the problem and follow our hygiene advice, the the more gum, bone and tooth structures we can preserve and then you can keep your teeth healthy and strong for life.”
It may be difficult to remember these exact words while speaking to the patient. This is why you should have these sort of explanations INCLUDED on your written treatment plan.
Solutions – only after you expose the situation (Problem) and consequences of Aggravation, will you have the patient ready to be shown the Solutions. So there is a walkthrough you need to follow. Humans are both logical and emotional so. If you go directly to the treatment options without passing through the initial steps you will have a patient looking at you as a salesman, not as an expert. And once you are seen as a salesman.. you lost them.
Good Treatment Planning!
Jorge Andre Cardoso
DMD, MClinDent Prosthodontics
Honorary Clinical Teacher - Kings College London, UK