Occlusion or Delusion: Giving Patients Answers, Not Solutions

Give your patients occlusion answers not solutions.

Welcome to Dr. Brady’s new ‘Occlusion or Delusion’ series. In each post, she’ll give an honest perspective on re-thinking how you deal with occlusion in your dental practice. Half of the posts will be here on Gold Dust’s blog and the other half will be featured on the Clinical Mastery Series blog. Enjoy!

Give your patients occlusion answers not solutions.

by Dr. Lee Ann Brady

In many of the courses I teach, I open by asking a simple question that has the ability to confuse many dentists:

What is dental care?

Is this a trick question? No, it’s not. But it’s something dentists should take the time to ponder. Is dentistry “fixing teeth”? Is it “removing pain”? Is it “making smiles beautiful”?

There isn’t any one response that would answer this question for all dentists.

In my personal experience, dental care is a risk management strategy.

There Are No Perfect Solutions in Occlusion

Dentists are not occlusion genies.Dentists are not genies. We don’t ask patients for their three wishes and then serve those desires up on a shiny platter. Health care doesn’t work that way and we have a responsibility to make that clear.

The processes of exam and diagnosis are ways that patients can choose to manage their risks. We have to be honest about the fact that we cannot cure or “fix” them.

Tell It Like It Is

A lot of dentists have this ‘genie’ belief early on in their careers. Then, they show up for their first few patients and feel the weight of the world on their shoulders. Over time, this weight becomes heavier and heavier.

If you think your practice is a one and done factory of satisfied patients, you’ll never live up to anyone’s expectations (including your own).

Don't hold on to an occlusion magic wand mentality.You’ll think, “I’m not good enough,” and throw in the towel. If perfection is the bar, then we are all falling short.

Patients exist on a spectrum of no risk to very high risk. This is independent from the quality of your treatment or their adherence to proper maintenance.

Your job is to figure out the risk factors for individual patients and then tell them what to expect. Give them management options that combine well with their level of interest.

Only dive into occlusion if you can put aside the ‘magic wand’ mentality.

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