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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.

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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

Picture of Dr. Laura Wittenauer

Dr. Laura Wittenauer is a senior faculty member at The Dawson Academy, where she teaches the Core Curriculum with fellow faculty members. She owns and operates her private practice in Newport Beach, California. Dr. Wittenauer’s practice focuses on helping patients achieve optimum oral health.