15 years ago, I thought the most important tool in my office was my X-ray unit. It allowed me to diagnose and treat patients. I never thought that I would say, at that time, that my camera is the most important instrument that I have in my office.
People always ask me about classifications of TMJ disorders and where I find somebody can be treated and where they cannot be treated, when we have to consider splint therapy and other avenues of treatment of the joint.
WIDIOM is the Dawson Academy acronym for Would I Do It On Me.
I think of it kind of like the modern-day golden rule. It's how I live my life. It's how I treat my patients. It's how I treat my family. I think about every single thing that I do with the idea of, is this what I would want somebody else to be doing or suggesting to me?
Transcript Continued Below...
This video is an excerpt from the April 2015 Dawson Faculty Office Hours with Drs. Leonard Hess and Rajeev Upadya. To watch the full office hours and to sign up for future office hours, visit the Videos and Webinars page.
The following is a transcription of this video excerpt.
Question from Devin:
Most patients at my practice expect quick fix dentistry: quick checkups and x-rays.
I feel overwhelmed by all the signs of instability I see and feel like I need to do complete exams for everyone, but it's hard to convince them of the need for it when they just want a cleaning and fillings.
I try splitting the exam and doing photos to show them why we need a complete exam, and then book a second visit for the full thing. Any suggesions?
12 days, 12 planes, 11 presentations, 7 cities, 1 suitcase, 1 message
(and dozens of mosquito bites and a bottle of Advil…)
Through a global educational collaborative with our corporate partners at BioResearch Associates, along with their Asian distributors, I have had the unique opportunity to spend almost 2 weeks in the beautiful countries of India and Thailand, speaking on both TMD and the Dawson Academy philosophy of “The Concept of Complete Dentistry.” The similarities of these countries outweigh their differences; both rooted in culture, faith, respect, and loyalty, as is all of Asia.
Lucia jigs, NTI’s, Cranham deprogrammers, and Dawson B-Splints all fall into the broad category of temporomandibular joint disorder diagnosis appliances. There are specific reasons as to why you may want to use one type over another when diagnosing a possible TMJ problem, but at their core they all achieve the same goal, getting centric relation by eliminating muscle hyperactivity.
Times have definitely changed. The generation of patients that had full confidence and blind trust in their health care practitioners is dwindling and approaching their nineties. Long-gone are the days that a patient will initiate treatment because “the doctor said I have to do it.” We are in a modern era where the internet is ubiquitous and information is cheap. Patients can change their health care providers as often as they change their socks…
If we let the current economic situation affect us to the point that we are not comprehensively treatment planning, and are hiding from our patients the issues that we see, we are doing a great disservice to them.
I took this message to heart. I still perform a complete examination on each patient (though sometimes in phases), take many patients through the records process, and develop complete treatment plans for those patients when they are open to going through the process. I have taken a much more "soft sell" approach to how I discuss issues with patients, and have found that my case presentation has had overwhelming success, even in our current time. While the days where patients are breaking down the door for $40,000 cases may be on hold for a while, phasing complete plans as Dr. Peter Dawson has always suggested, has become a win-win for everybody. I am finding that patients still want to do what is in the best interest of their oral health, and are quite receptive to the idea of achieving that over a period of time. It all starts with having open discussions with our patients.
I still perform my complete examination, and once we have determined where a patient wants to go, we formulate phased treatment planning to get us there when necessary - sacrificing time, not optimal care. I have found many unique ways of utilizing composite resin to help me achieve occlusal stability when needed, and have come up with many natural breaks where patients can take pauses during complex care, especially when orthodontics have been needed.
I feel that approaching my practice in this way has had a resounding effect -- I have had the opportunity to have some very honest conversations with patients, and we have truly developed plans for their oral health together. We have co-diagnosed conditions, and developed ways to make successful therapy a reality. I have definitely had to think a little "outside of the box" at times, but the results have been very rewarding. My patients keep coming back, and are happy with what they are experiencing.
My bottom line? I am still doing a lot of high quality dentistry, serving my patients well, and spending my time where it matters to me most. My practice has thus not suffered in the current economy, and I can sleep well at night knowing that my dental morality is intact!
4 Tips for Maintaining Optimum Dentistry in the Current Economy
- Always perform a complete exam on a patient (even if you have to do it in phases)
- Always recommend the best treatment option for your patients
- Communicate clearly with patients that phasing treatment is an option
- Be honest and work with your patients to co-diagnose and treatment plan