5 things every practice should be doing for a thorough and comprehensive dental examination

May 2, 2016

Once the exam is complete, work your findings into an individualized treatment plan that includes everything from immediate needs, to eventual needs, to elective procedures patients may want to consider.

In Levin Group’s experience, a surprisingly high proportion of patients haven’t had comprehensive dental examinations in recent years - or ever. Even practices that understand the importance of such exams for new patients stop short of extending this approach to their existing patients. Now that the law of supply (of doctors) and demand (on the part of patients) has begun working against dentists, it’s imperative that you make the most of what you already have. Specifically, this includes identifying the full production potential of all your patients.

The value of a comprehensive exam

Levin Group clients and their patients benefit from our Five Phase Exam. Designed to evaluate all aspects of oral health and establish a reference for changes in the condition of teeth and gums, this thorough diagnosis consists of five components:

Periodontal – Considering how prevalent gum disease has become, as well as its impact on oral health and overall health, this exam deserves more attention than many dentists currently give it. Measuring pockets and noting other symptoms of disease will help ensure that patients receive needed treatment and learn proper home care techniques.

Tooth-by-Tooth – Until dentists began shifting to a more comprehensive approach, most dental exams consisted mainly of this evaluation … and little else. This accounts for the fact that most cases presented to patients have been for single-tooth treatment.

Cosmetic – With a broader range of cosmetic dental services available and greater patient interest in aesthetics, not merely health, this phase has become quite important. It can also lead directly to higher practice revenues.

Implant – All edentulous patients are potential candidates for implants, even if they already have bridges or dentures. Although cost will be a barrier for some patients, it still makes sense to identify implant opportunities so patients can begin thinking about this treatment option.

Occlusal – As you know, malocclusion can lead to other oral health problems, including both functional and aesthetic shortcomings. With a clear picture of misalignment issues, you will be able to recommend - and eventually provide or refer for - a number of remedies.

Levin Group recommends that the Five Phase Exam be performed not only for new patients but for all patients, ideally once every year.

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Presenting a comprehensive treatment plan

Once the exam is complete, work your findings into an individualized treatment plan that includes everything from immediate needs, to eventual needs, to elective procedures patients may want to consider.

The treatment plan should be comprehensive, but be careful to avoid seeming to push for too much too soon. It’s important to review all the elements in the plan - and bring them up during subsequent appointments - but propose moving forward with treatment one step at a time. You want patients to be aware of the possibilities, especially elective treatment, and also get a sense of the full range of oral health services your practice offers. You want them to understand that as the years go by and new needs or “wants” emerge, you’ll be there to help them every step of the way.

HOT READ: What to do about the poor performers in your practice

Learn more about how to grow your practice at one of Dr. Levin’s new seminars. You can save $50 when you register 30 days in advance for the seminar in Dallas on June 10 or in Minneapolis on July 22. To get your savings, go here to register and use code DPM50.