Patients presenting to a dentist should be evaluated with their individual needs in mind. Often a treatment plan that is perfect form one patient is not appropriate for another. When deciding on a treatment plan, a dentist should conduct a short interview with a patient to determine a patients priorities regarding dental treatment. I ask a new patient “what can I do for you?” This often leads the patient to describe what they feel is their most urgent dental problem and often times they suggest a possible solution.
Once I have heard their explanation of why they have come to my office for treatment, I am free to either perform the indicated service they are interested in (check up and cleaning, replace a broken filling or perform a thorough examination etc.) Often the patient will allow me to gather the information needed to advise them on treatment options they have (X-rays, and comprehensive exam).
If the patient does not desire a comprehensive examination at their first visit, and only wants a specific problem taken care of (broken tooth or missing filling) , I will only take one or two X-rays and try to take care of their perceived need. Often it is apparent to me that other dental problems are present in their mouths at that visit, and I will mention that I can observe other unattended dental problems and suggest that we evaluate the rest of their mouth at a subsequent visit.
Once I have gathered the necessary diagnostic information, I discuss all the problems that I find, and I often suggest what I consider to the best ‘Ideal treatment plan for their mouths. If there are multiple problems I may prioritize the order of treatment.
Sometimes the plan that I suggest turns out to not be ‘Ideal’ for my patient and they indicate that they are not comfortable with this plan. Often they ask if they have any alternatives and together we are free to explore other possible acceptable ways of handling their problems. Usually at the end of this consultation I am able to come up with
a treatment plan that my patient finds acceptable.