The Art of Comprehensive Patient Conversations: A Case Study by Dr. Eric Farmer
This case study encourages us to engage in comprehensive discussions, shatter preconceived notions, and respect the nuanced aesthetics that each patient brings to the table. As dental professionals, our mission extends beyond the functional – it encompasses the emotional and psychological well-being of our patients.
Patient, a 63-year-old male, came to us with a dental history that presented a complex set of challenges. The diagnosis of an endo-perio lesion on tooth 7, coupled with the periodontist’s assessment of its hopelessness, marked the starting point of our journey.
Treatment Consult and Assessment
Upon the patient’s initial consultation, we conducted a thorough examination and captured a full set of photographs. While the focus was on the problematic tooth 7, we took the opportunity to present the patient with a broader perspective. We shared images of his anterior teeth and lateral views, including what we fondly refer to as the “cocktail party photo.” This casual mention opened the door to a conversation about achieving symmetry in tooth sizes and addressing color disparities within his smile.
He revealed that he had always been self-conscious about his smile and expressed interest in exploring treatment options beyond mere functionality. Patient voiced his desire for a straight and uniformly colored smile. The turning point came when he inquired about the possibility of treating not just the problematic tooth 7, but extending the treatment to encompass 10 units.
Treatment Journey & Results
Following the implant procedure, we moved forward with a meticulous temporization process. This temporary phase allowed us to evaluate the functional and aesthetic aspects of the restoration-to-be and fine-tune our approach based on real-time observations.
To achieve the patient’s desired outcome with precision, we collaborated with Gold Dust Dental Laboratory and ordered a wax up kit. This step was crucial in visualizing and refining the final restoration even before any irreversible changes were made. With the patient’s input and our professional expertise, the restoration plan took shape.
This case study underscores several essential learning points for dental practitioners:
1. Comprehensive Discussions: Never underestimate the power of a comprehensive discussion with your patients. The cocktail party photo, though seemingly casual, opened the door to a transformative conversation about aesthetic desires.
2. Avoid Prejudgment: The patient’s desire for aesthetic enhancement came as a pleasant surprise. This reminds us that assumptions based on past dental history can be limiting. Each patient should be approached with an open mind and a readiness to explore their unique aspirations.
3. Aesthetic Considerations: Aesthetics matter to patients across the spectrum. This case reinforces the notion that a smile transformation doesn’t always equate to an ultra-bright Hollywood smile. Every patient’s idea of beauty is different, and the goal is to deliver a result that aligns with their vision.
Case by CMS Faculty Dr. Eric Farmer