Simply put, it’s the concept of “complete dentistry”, but what does that mean? Consider this case.
This client (picture to right), who I’ll call John, came into my office.
Not the most flattering picture, but I’d guess most of us would not expect John to be seeking high $ treatment options.
John had recently enquired with another dentist about replacement teeth, having grown fed up with losing teeth over the years through pain and extractions. He’d been told he needed to have a denture - big dental treatment plan mistake!
When I asked him if he really wanted a denture, he said, “No. I want teeth!”
I agreed that I didn’t believe anyone actually wants a denture – no one wakes up one morning with the thought “O boy! I can have a denture!”
John repeated, “That’s right. I want teeth!”
“OK,” I said, “what kind of teeth?”
“The kind that doesn’t come out.”
So I said, “You’re talking about dental implants.”
John confirmed: “Yes. That’s what I want!”
“Do you have any idea how much they cost?”
“A lot, I’m sure. How much?”
“Hard to say exactly without doing a full examination, but you could be looking at as much as $60,000.”
“Do I have to pay it all up front?”
I explained we could figure out a suitable plan such as paying half upfront and the balance on completion when he was satisfied and comfortable.
You’ll see from the intra-oral picture that I wasn’t far off on my estimate:
Eventually I placed 14 implants along with bilateral sinus grafts and restored him with cemented, implant-fixed FP3 prosthesis. Hope you’ll agree with John and me that, with attention to some other details, the transformation is remarkable:
But a key element to this working for John was that the teeth still felt like his, didn’t have to be removed each night, and thus supported his confident appearance.
Dental Treatment Plan Lessons
The main lesson, for which I thank Dr. Peter Dawson, was to treat John as I treat every other patient, and that was to offer him “complete dentistry” (Pete’s term) which I interpret to be “what’s the very best for your mouth”. Everyone deserves to be offered optimum dentistry as the only choice. Only when they refuse or simply cannot afford the optimum will I give them other solutions.
Before internalizing this lesson from Dr. Dawson, I might have prejudged John, determining that if I presented the full mouth care that would be optimum for him, he would reject it. My fear of rejection would have had me offering second or third best solutions, not giving John what he wanted and not doing the dentistry I find most rewarding.
Another startling revelation, to me at least, was that when I asked John, “Has anyone ever taken the time to help you learn how to avoid all forms of dental disease so you can keep your teeth and never worry about losing them or having perpetual decay around your fillings and crowns?” his response was “Never!” John assured me that, given these simple secrets, he would carry out his part in achieving and maintaining optimum oral health, so we were able to agree to save his remaining teeth, restoring them with crowns.
So to summarize these dental treatment plan tips:
- Give everyone the option of choosing the best for their mouths.
- Share with them what they (with our occlusally aware help) can do to preserve their teeth for the long term.
If you’re not already doing this, you may be surprised how many people are out there who want the best and who will reward your practice with some of its most productive dentistry en route to achieving it.
Have you had similar experiences? Share your complete dentistry or dental treatment plan stories using the comments area below.