Working with patients who have purely esthetic demands for treatment creates the potential for great success or great failure.
Nothing is more disheartening than seating a case and having the patient express disappointment with the result because it was not what they expected. So what do you really need to know from your patient who requests cosmetic dental procedures before you begin treatment?
1) What’s your chief concern? This may seem like an obvious thing to ask your patient, but do you really know what you’re trying to get out of this question? What you really want to know are what problems your patient is actually aware of with their smile.
2) Do you have a specific idea of the outcome you would like? Most patients will have a general idea of what they’d like the outcome to be (i.e. whiter teeth, rotation, etc.) but it’s up to you to nail down the specifics to remain efficient and conservative in your treatment plan. Generally, the more specific the patient is, the better.
3) Do you feel that this change will help a specific area of your life? After you get the chief concern and specificity, it’s helpful to get an idea of how they feel this treatment will affect them in a positive way. It’s imperative to know why they want to change their smile esthetically to ensure you deliver an ideal result.
4) Do you have a concept of how white you would like your teeth to be? The last answer you would want to hear is, “Make them as white as you possibly can,” because this gives little to no indication of what your patient’s expectations are with the results. This also opens the door wide open for complaints of the results not being “white enough.” Try to talk with your patient to encourage answers that are informative and realistic, such as, “I want them whiter, natural-looking and uniform in color,” to avoid them being disappointed with the end result.
Remember, the types of patients that you can learn from are the most ideal to have. Following the formula for esthetic treatment, Concern + Specificity + Expectations + Shade = Success, you will have a happy patient by the time the treatment has been concluded.
(Click this link for more dentistry articles by Dr. Mark Fleming.)
Mark J. Fleming, D.D.S., Spear Visiting Faculty and Contributing Author