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Presenting a Treatment Plan

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Switching over from simulation clinic to clinic has been a whirlwind of change. I was quick to learn that I could not use my patient’s head and upper torso as a place to rest my instruments and hands as I once did with my manikin. I also learned that ideal preparations are hard to come by. My patients don’t have the same ability as my manikin to open wide and keep their tongue out of the way of my hand piece. I also learned that I could not just begin any procedure without receiving proper consent from the patient. Switching over from simulation clinic to clinic has added the entire aspect of patient interaction, a component of care that cannot be learned from a text book and differs from patient to patient. It adds an entire new dimension to dentistry and is what makes the field so great.

One of the most rewarding and enjoyable parts of this transition has been presenting a treatment plan. When composing a treatment plan, it is done with the patient’s needs and wants in mind. However, I never thought that I’d have difficulty presenting a treatment plan to a patient. Although most treatment plans are accepted without question or concern, there are some that require a little extra effort to get the patient on board. Recently, I have realized that every treatment plan needs two components before the patient accepts the plan. It must address the patients concerns and chief complaints, and it must show urgency.

Before getting into specifics of which type of cleaning a patient needs, or fillings and crowns, I have always made it a point to address the patient’s chief concerns first. If they are seeing us for a specific reason, they want their concerns addressed. In some cases, it is a lot easier than others. If a patient is in pain, we address to relieve them of their pain before doing any other work. In cases where patients address an elective procedure, such as teeth whitening, to be their chief complaint, it is important to preface the plan with addressing that problem, but showing them the benefits of going through with whitening when we find it appropriate.

The next most important thing while presenting a treatment plan is to show its urgency. It is important to add value to our work. If a patient does not feel pain, they are less apt to get a small restoration they need. Explaining the prognosis of the specific treatment with the use of visuals helps the patient understand and see the importance of specific treatment.

In the future, we may have other staff presenting treatment plans, but while in school, it’s in our hands. If we address patient concerns and add value to what we wish to do, we are more inclined to get patients that are more involved and willing to go forward with treatment.