Quality Dentistry in a Tough Economic Environment
Dr. Douglas Denison
I’m going to be honest in saying that in today’s economic environment, our patients that require full mouth comprehensive reconstructions are not able to whip out the checkbook and pay us in full. Times are hard and we understand that. Folks just don’t have the extra funds to pay for expensive dental treatment. It is frustrating for both the patient and the doctor. We have a long-term solution that has worked out very well in our office, this has proved to be a win win for everyone involved.
Phased out Dental treatment is not a new idea. I have been using it ever since I graduated dental school in some form or fashion for twenty-two years. Phased treatment is simply providing the absolute best dental treatment for our patients while enabling them to afford it. In our office, we have a stepwise progression of levels that achieve each patient’s desired goals.
These steps are as follows:
Comprehensive Exam, Review of Findings
This is your initial contact with our office. Our objectives at this point are to get to know each other, educate the patient, the doctor, and the staff on the overall health and condition of the teeth and surrounding supportive structures. We also discuss what you want us to address and focus on. It is truly one of my favorite things to do in my office. We learn so much during this initial meeting. This is very important to us because it helps us to know where you are in regards to your own dental condition. We are able to ask our new patient what their dental journey has been like through their lifetime. We further discuss the ultimate wants and desires in regards to your dental goals. It is different with every patient. I think that is what makes it so much fun! Together through communication and diagnosis, we create a plan to get you to a functional and beautiful smile. More importantly, we do it with you entirely in the loop.
Our second appointment in this first phase is what we call our review of findings appointment. During this appointment we sit down and discuss what findings we have uncovered during our comprehensive exam. Together we setup a long-term plan to get you on your way to ultimate dental health. Our primary goal is to get you healthy and functioning well in your mouth consistently for the rest of your life. With today’s modern dentistry it can be a reality. We design what steps it will take to get this accomplished. By the end of this first phase, you will understand your overall oral health and what things we need to do to protect and maintain good oral health. You will truly understand what treatment needs to be done and more importantly WHY! We initiate a restorative plan as well as a financial plan to accomplish your dental treatment.
Initial therapy simply means the dental treatment we have to do now to get you to a healthy dental situation. This treatment would consist of restoring any tooth decay that may be present. We focus on achieving proper health to your periodontium (gums). We address any muscle or jaw related issues. Initial therapy gets you to a stable dental condition, which you can maintain consistently with good home care and routine follow up re-care in our office. You will be at a place dentally where you don’t have any tooth decay, your gums are healthy, and most importantly your oral health will be stable over time.
Depending on each case, initial therapy can sometimes be short in duration or longer. Surprisingly, initial therapy has proven to not be a big hindrance financially for our patients. We look at what needs to be done, the cost, and we phase the treatment out so that we do not “beat up the checkbook”. Once we have achieved good overall dental health or completed initial therapy, we are in a nice holding pattern. The health in your mouth is great now and it is staying that way… All you need to do is maintain your excellent home care and come in for follow up routine cleanings in our office. We are now ready for our last phase of treatment. Understand that many times when we get our patient’s through initial therapy, they will be to a point where they do not need any cosmetic or reconstructive dental therapy.
If we have treatment planned further dental treatment we are now able to move on to our final phase. The cool thing about it all is that once we get through initial therapy, we now are not in any rush to the final phase. Remember, you are in a good dental state by now and you do not need any major treatment to remain healthy. If finances are an issue with the final phase, we will formulate a game plan to initiate this treatment when you are ready. I have some patients that need more crowns than they can afford at one time. We formulate a final phase game plan and get it done over time. We can do a little at a time and still do the best dentistry that money can buy. With these patients that cannot do all of their crowns at once, we will do one crown a year if we have to. Patients are truly surprised on how quickly we seem to finish the reconstruction. I think that occurs because with phased treatment and truly understanding your own dental conditions, full reconstructions or large amounts of final phase treatments seem to just fall into place over time. With the economy the way it is today, it is very rare that we are able to do large restorative and cosmetic dental reconstructions without phased out treatment. It has proved to be a very rewarding experience for myself, my dental staff, and I hope our patients!