The Patient Experience – Comprehensive Exams

The patient experience is the most important facet of the work I do in dentistry. My process for comprehensive patient exams is detailed, precise and thorough. The goal of a comprehensive examination is to determine the status of the patient’s overall oral health. I focus on four categories: aesthetics, function, structure and biology. The process of examining these categories leads to the three main goals for each new patient visit:

  1. Increase the patient’s awareness of existing problems
  2. Explain the likely consequences of each issue and the prognosis of the issue(s) if no treatment is performed
  3. Explain the benefits of treatment and the opportunities the patient has for treatment
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How do aesthetics, function, structure and biology come into play.

I’ve broken down these four categories below to better define how they align with patient care.

Aesthetics is an overall assessment of the aesthetics of a patient’s teeth, given at the patient’s request. Tooth position, color, size, contour and gum levels are assessed. If a patient is happy with the look of their teeth, this portion of the exam is skipped.

Function defines how the teeth, muscles and joints work together. An examination of the muscles and temporomandibular joints is performed on my patients to determine if those muscles and joints are functioning properly with the teeth.

Structure highlights the overall condition of the teeth. I have found some patients have teeth with existing restorations and others have teeth that need to be restored. In many cases, teeth need to be removed or replaced. When present, wear patterns on the teeth are noted and the cause is determined in order to plan for next steps, should the patient want adjustments made.

Biology details an assessment of the overall health of the teeth, gums and bone. Periodontal treatment, root canal therapy, oral surgery or procedures to treat other pathology may be needed depending on the health of the patient.

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Though this process may seem “overly detailed,” it is a crucial first step in my patient experience. I want to give patients the time to speak to me about their needs, and I want to have the time to discuss all of my findings, in detail, from their exam. Conducting these types of exams is my top priority – where patients know they are getting the attention and care they deserve.

I always tell my patients there is a connection between overall and oral health. If you have gone for more than six months without a dental checkup, it’s time to come see me! Give me a call at (251) 344-4571 or schedule an appointment on my website today!