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How do I present my treatment plan to patients?

Do you have a good system in place to present your treatment plan to your patient?

After you have done your part to put together the plan, it's time to lay it out to the patient to ensure they understand what needs to happen now and what can wait. Here are three tips for you to use to help make that process more simplified.


1. Start with the chief complaint

First of all, what you want to do is make sure that you address the chief complaint. Address the reason why the patient came into your practice to begin with.

2. Review the findings from your complete exam

Second of all, you want to also make sure that you review the findings that you discovered from the complete exam. Review those findings again with the patient to help them understand what problems they are having. There should be no surprises at this point because all this has already been discussed at the exam. It is just a matter of being able to review the findings for them.

3. Break the treatment plan into phases

Then next, you want to move into breaking up the treatment in a way that answers the question, "How do we solve these problems?" Let's make it easy for the patient and break it up into three stages.

  • The first stage is we are going to address the biological issues that the patient has problems with. For example, if they need scaling and root planing. Maybe they have an abscess on a tooth, and any caries that need to be removed. Address those issues in stage one.
  • In stage two we are going to address the functional issues. And examples of that are having treatment with a specialist, doing splint therapy, an equilibration, getting them stable functionally. Also in that stage you also want to be able to place your provisionals if you're doing restorations.
  • The third stage is where we get to the restorative phase. We start with the mandibular anteriors, then the maxillary anteriors, and then we restore the posterior teeth.
Show treatment examples

I also like to use example photos of treatment that are similar to what the patient is going to need on cases that we have done on other patients. This helps them visualize how we can really help them.

I also like to show them the model: showing them before and after in the wax - especially if you are doing an esthetic case where a patient has a lot of wear. Helping them be able to visualize exactly how we can help them really helps the patient understand the treatment that we can give them.

So the next time you are presenting a treatment plan for your patient think about these tips. You will make the process go easier for you.

Improve how you plan and present your next treatment by attending our Treatment Planning Functional Esthetic Excellence course!

How to Avoid Mistakes During Dental Treatment Planning

Dr. Laura Wittenauer has her private practice in Newport Beach, California. A native of western Kansas, Dr. Laura attended Kansas State University where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Pre-Dentistry. She then attended the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry. After graduating she initially established her practice in Lawrence, Kansas for eighteen years. Dr. Laura and her family relocated to southern California to allow her husband to attend the University of Southern California School of Dentistry and complete a residency program in Endodontics. Dr. Laura’s practice focuses on helping patients achieve optimum oral health. The most rewarding aspect of her practice is taking care of special needs patients. She is active in many professional and civic organizations including the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, California Dental Association of which she is a member of Board of Managers, Orange County Dental Society. She especially enjoys helping dentists learn at the Dawson Academy in St. Petersburg, Florida. She is a member of Pi Beta Phi sorority and served as Alumni Advisory Chairman. She also serves as a eucharistic minister and lector for her church. Dr. Laura and her husband of twenty-six years, Rick, have two children. They enjoy participating in activities with their children, attending USC sporting events, running and golf.