It is well known that everybody who choses to be in the medical profession has a noble reason behind their decision. They want to help people and make a difference for the better in their patients’ lives. Dentists are no exception.
it possible to educate the patient during and after the examination
They start their profession with noble ideals, ready to change lives one smile at a time. Unfortunately, more often than not, it is a rather difficult task to make patients aware of their oral condition and to convince them to accept the necessary treatment.
This makes the job of a dental professional more challenging, and the use of visual aids becomes almost indispensable. Using an intraoral camera not only makes for a more thorough examination because of the light, magnification, and access in hard-to-reach areas, but it also makes it possible to educate the patient during and after the examination.
This way, patients can clearly see and understand their oral condition and become partners with their doctor in finding the right course of treatment.
The dental hygienist or the dentist should start with a complete tour of the mouth, using the intraoral camera to point out to the patient the areas of concern while stopping to take pictures of those areas. Occlusal pictures that show old restoration with breaking margins can educate the patient there’s a need for replacing them before it becomes an emergency.
Pictures of heavy calculus, gingival recession, swelling, and bleeding on probing show the presence of periodontal disease and educate the patient there’s a need to start periodontal therapy. Pictures of chipped or worn-down anterior teeth can educate the patient that there’s a need to restore these teeth and that an occlusal guard may be necessary.
An occlusal picture of the full arch can show misaligned teeth. This can open up a discussion about orthodontic treatment, not only for an aesthetic reason but also for a functional reason.
When teeth are positioned more ideally, the occlusion is improved, which means less wear over time and less extensive restorative treatment. Also, the home care routine becomes easier when teeth are straight, which translates into improved periodontal health. Of course, for the aesthetically-conscious patient, pictures can show discolored or chipped restorations, and older metal restorations that can be replaced with new, natural-looking ones.
All these conditions mentioned above do not cause any discomfort to the patient. In most cases, patients are oblivious to anything that’s going on in their mouths unless there’s pain involved. It is the responsibility of the dental professionals to educate the patient so they can make an informed decision about their treatment.
Explanations can be misunderstood, but a picture brings the doctor and the patient into agreement
The pictures taken during the examination can be used later by the treatment coordinator when presenting the treatment plan to review the conditions discussed with the doctor. They can also be printed and given to the patient to take home along with their treatment plan.
Having a clear image of their oral condition will help make the decision to start treatment that may not appear so necessary in the patient’s mind because there is no pain or real discomfort at the moment. Once the decision of treatment has been made, if there is any third-party payer involved, the very same pictures will be invaluable to get payment in a timely manner without any delay from the insurance companies to request more information about the condition that was treated.
In conclusion, when it comes to understanding the need for dental treatment, a picture is truly worth a thousand words. Explanations can be misunderstood, but a picture brings the doctor and the patient into agreement, which translates into increased treatment acceptance. This is beneficial for the patients, as it improves their overall oral health while increasing the dental practice bottom line at the same time.
Making a difference in people’s lives while being successful financially is certainly a dream come true for any healthcare professional. The journey to achieve such a dream can start with a small first step: start using an intraoral camera.