What responsibility do we have to patients to notice and treat signs of future problematic symptoms?
Consider occlusion as a dental expertise that requires more than just technical skill. It also requires careful observations, individualized judgment, and preventative measures. You can’t eliminate the human factor in treating a patient – even if they do not currently have pain or symptoms, you must deal with any suspicious issues.
Don’t Wait For Symptoms
Some patients arrive in your office and don’t seem to have any need of significant treatment. As a new patient, though, you give them a thorough exam.
It reveals that though they don’t have any symptoms of parafunction or other suspicious bite indications, they do have some noticeable signs.
Do you open your mouth and reveal your suspicions? Or do you keep quiet so as not to upset the patient or lead them to believe that you’re trying to squeeze some extra treatment (and money) out of them.
My advice is this: They need to be treated because signs can turn all to easily into symptoms.
We don’t wait until they’re symptomatic. We treat them to prevent symptoms.
Your patient may say, “But it doesn’t hurt…?” They still might have a cavity or some other problem and we don’t want to wait until it’s too late. Make that dilemma as clear as possible. Relate your concerns and what they could face in the future.
Part of gaining your patient’s respect is being upfront with them. They’ll move forward with more advanced treatment at later points if they understand that you always act in their best interest.
You can’t predict that every patient will be open to hearing your diagnosis, but you shouldn’t be afraid to state it anyways.
What value do you place on preventative measures when dealing with occlusion in your practice? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!