Your dental health team consists of you and dental health professionals. Together, you can prevent many dental problems from causing the diminished quality of life and potential medical complications.
An excellent dental treatment plan consists of
A written treatment plan will help a patient fully understand the dental treatment they will receive.
However, the treatment plan should be handled simply by the patient. It requires a thorough consultation where the patient is an active participant and can share his/her experience.
First Dental appointment
A thorough dental examination should be carried out at the first appointment, including a BPE, charting, and, if required, X-rays. Patients' complete medical and social history should also be sought. A patient’s concerns, complaints, and expectations should be noted in the records.
Written treatment plan
A tailored written dental treatment plan will be a perfect foundation and tool for the patient. To help the patient understand, the dental team may use photographs, models, and diagrams.
It is a good practice to outline their initial exam findings and consult their dental team. Following a diagnosis, the dentist will determine if further diagnostic tests are needed, such as X-rays, articulated study models, and wax-ups.
The advantages and risks of each treatment should be clearly stated using evidence-based dentistry, which combines clinical scientific studies and systematic reviews with dental team clinical judgment. Ultimately, the treatment plan should lead to a healthy, painless, and aesthetically pleasing oral cavity.
Treatment goals, a maintenance plan for oral hygiene, and fees associated with each treatment option should be clearly defined. Additionally, an estimate of the amount of time the patient will have to devote to treatment should be provided.
The patient's expectations and views must be considered throughout the dental treatment. The patient can withdraw consent at any time. Discussing all the information and potential risks with the patient is important. One must be mindful of the patient’s mental capacity. The treatment plan will have to be altered to reflect this.
Treatment plans for dentistry are fluid and can change over time. There may be a need to revise a specific treatment plan within the dental procedure. During this stage, the patient should receive a new treatment plan highlighting the changes. It is essential to have a caveat in the original treatment plan that the program may need to be adjusted due to various clinical and/or unforeseen circumstances (s).
Throughout the process, it is crucial to determine the patient's understanding - catering to any specific requirements they may have. Asking patients to explain their understanding of their dental treatment plan in their own words may be an effective way to pose open-ended questions. This often will assist in clarifying any potential issues or perhaps provide reassurance to the patient. This process will aid in the assessment of the patient’s capacity.
Dental practices should create two copies of the treatment plan. These need to be signed by the patient, indicating that they have read, understood, and agree with their proposed dental treatment. The practice should maintain one signed copy as part of the patient’s records.
A comprehensive, robust dental treatment plan is the cornerstone of optimal dental care for patients. Transparency is built on a solid foundation, and an easy-to-access guide is provided whenever necessary. Further, it gives patients an understanding of their dental needs in the short and long term.
A patient's engagement and understanding will increase when they reflect on their goals for dental treatment.
About the Author:
Suprithi Choudhary, M.Pharm (Pharmacology) Medical Content writer
Suprithi is a Pharma Professional working as a medical content writer and previously worked as a Research Scientist and Senior Research Analyst
Special thanks to Dr Deepak Kulkarni, a dental surgeon with over 23 years of experience who proofread this blog. He graduated from the H.K.E's Dental College, Gulbarga, and has certifications in ACHS International Accreditation Education Plan; Advanced Rotary Endodontic - Restorative Continuum; and Leadership, Team Building and Customer Service Leadership from the Oscar Murphy International.