Over the years I have heard many objections to doing a complete exam like we teach in our courses. Dentists say they don’t have enough time, patients won’t agree to it, it costs too much and so on. What I tell those dentists and what I’m about to tell you is that you can’t afford NOT to do a complete exam.
When I first began my career, I bought an existing practice from a retiring dentist in my area. Initially I was nervous about doing full work-ups on the patients of record. What Pete said to me was, "Well John, why don't you do this? Why don't you have a fee - a fair fee - for your new patients, but the patients of record that need to have a complete exam, why don't you take two a week and use it for goodwill?" I did exactly that and saw my practice triple. I had all these older patients that had big fillings in their teeth and had never really been looked at.
There was such an opportunity that I would have never discovered without doing complete exams.
As I was mounting models, I was able to look at these cases fully and make complete treatment plans. Some accepted it and some of them waited, but little by little every patient got taken care of. I created a reputation in Portsmouth, Virginia as being this new young dentist who was more thorough than anybody else in town. And it completely transformed my career. There was nothing more important than that exam.
What I would tell you is, the way you create a great reputation for yourself and your practice is by making great diagnoses, making great treatment plans, connecting with people and trying to figure out how to do optimum dentistry (even sometimes on a budget). But we can't make those determinations unless we have the basic data – the information we find from a complete exam.
Doing complete exams give you all the data necessary to:
- Diagnose problems
- Educate patients about their problems
- Create complete, predictable treatment plans
- Get patients to accept their treatment plan
Without doing a complete exam, not only will you struggle with all those things, you will likely experience failures, remakes and frustration.
If I had to do complete exams for free the rest of my life, I would do it in a heartbeat because the amount of money we get paid for the examination is a drop in a bucket compared to the opportunity we have by making complete treatment plans.