Do you regularly bring up the issue of occlusal disease (“bite problems”) with your patients? If not, here’s my approach which I hope will help you make it a standard part of your patient consultations.
First, you should know that I always have an initial interview with new patients in which we talk about their desires and goals for their mouths. I ask them if they have the confidence and understanding to prevent both tooth decay (caries) and gum/bone disease (periodontal disease) through proper diet and self care habits. If they don’t, I ask them if they’d mind if I, and my staff, take the time to help them understand how to virtually eliminate decay and gum disease. They never refuse!
I then go on to discuss bite problems by following this three-step approach which sets the stage for the patient wanting to have any bite problems fixed:
- Tell them: I tell them that I ‘focus’ on a disease caused by destructive bite forces and tell them all of the possible effects such as temporal headaches, jaw sticking and popping, teeth grinding, sensitivity, history of breaking teeth and possible loose teeth.
- Show them: Using a visual tool such as BiteFX (naturally, as I helped create BiteFX!) I show them what a stable bite looks like and some of the things I’ll be looking for as I conduct their dental exam such as anterior guidance, a seated condyle in centric relation and normal muscle function. I’m never bashful to tell them that I understand they haven’t had this type of exam previously as most dental schools skim over occlusion - but I’ve had extensive post graduate training in this field.
- Perform a comprehensive exam of the teeth, periodontal tissues and the occlusion and help them understand their role in disease prevention and my role in controlling destructive bite forces. As they learn for the first time why they are suffering from a bad bite, don’t be surprised when they ask “How do you fix the bite problem?”
I’m ready with the answer as I map out the plan that I believe is best for them (see Important Dental Treatment Plan Lesson Learned from Pete Dawson).
Let me know if this works for you by using the comment area below.