Effective patient communication can go a long way to increase satisfaction with treatment outcomes, ensuring the patient knows what to expect at every stage of the process. Not only does this benefit the practice reputation, but it can also streamline the workflow and reduce the potential for prosthesis and restoration remakes. For our part we guarantee that restorations will fit models poured from your impressions. The crown and bridge department always provide a solid model as a check die and our prosthetics department duplicate all models and fit the final restoration to it, thus reducing the need for chairside adjustments.
Patient expectations in dentistry have grown over the years as the importance of a good smile has become more apparent. Patients are also more informed with greater access to clinical information and are more aware of the options available to them. For the dental professional this can be encouraging in many ways as patients are more engaged and motivated in their treatment and are more receptive to their treatment plan. However, there are challenges with this too; patient expectations can be misaligned with reality and so careful management of these, from the very first appointment, is imperative. Further still, regular and free-flowing communication with patients and the dental team throughout the treatment journey can ensure that all parties are satisfied with the outcome.
The dentist must balance the patient’s view of the end result with the materials and techniques available to achieve this, as well as the team’s ability to reach it in light of the patient’s anatomical structure. It can be a delicate conversation to be had with a patient if their expectations are not achievable. Openness and honesty from the start can promote trust and increase the chance of satisfaction with the final results. Conversely, if the dentist fails to manage expectations from the very beginning, the relationship can quickly erode and in the worst cases, negligence suits could be initiated.
Achieving Successful Outcomes
It is amazing what can be achieved these days with the vast range of restorative materials and techniques in the dental market. For indirect restorations and prostheses, dentists must work closely with their chosen laboratory and the technical team to ensure that the most suitable approach is taken. Ultimately, the dentist makes the final decision on appropriate treatment and they are responsible for the restoration or prosthesis they fit. However, it is beneficial to utilise the wealth of skill, knowledge and experience available from elsewhere. Dental technicians, for example, remain abreast of the very latest innovations and can often advise and assist in achieving technically difficult results in complex clinical cases.
There are a number of tools at the dentist’s disposal to show the patient what is realistic, aiding communication. Some software programmes provide a visual presentation of the anticipated final result and these can help during those early discussions. There is also the diagnostic wax-up that is not only useful to the dentist and technician, but is also another way for the patient to envisage the end result so they have a better, more accurate idea of what to expect. The provisional restoration is one step further, allowing the patient to trial the almost final fit so that any further modifications can be made before completion.
Signing Up and Signing Off
The recording and documenting of details is a fundamental part of a dentist’s responsibilities. Best practice and legal requirements state that dentists should keep comprehensive medical notes and ensure that patients are kept fully aware of the treatment being undertaken. It’s just as important to document any conversations had about expected outcomes, especially where compromises are necessitated. ‘Sign off’ from the patient is one crucial way to help avoid any future negligence complaints. Ultimately, the responsibility of the final fitted restoration lies with the dentist and so gaining sign-off from the patient every step of the way, including when the temporary and final restorations are placed, can improve satisfaction levels.
A good relationship with the dental laboratory is a huge asset when working with demanding patients, CosTech Dental Laboratory wants to ensure that all the dentists they work with are happy with their products and services. We understand that a close working relationship with flexibility is required for a successful solution and long-term partnerships.
Patient enthusiasm for dental treatment is rewarding and motivational but expectations must be managed through open and clear communication in order to ensure a satisfied patient.