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In the first part of this mini-series on working with patients, I discussed 6 easy steps for developing a patient’s interest in appliance therapy. I also outlined how paying close attention to patients’ perceptions enables them to come to their own understanding of the value of an appliance.

by Dr. Lee Ann Brady

With a system of trial and error, you can create a better relationship with patients while giving them the tools to improve the beauty and functionality of their smiles.

When Patients Experience Muscle or Joint-Based Pain

A great example of the benefits of this approach comes to mind. Recently, I had a patient who had been experiencing severe headaches for many months and was dead set that the problem was not dental. After appointments with his physician did not reveal the source of the headaches, I was finally able to convince him to try a joint and muscle exam.

The results weren’t promising at first. Reported muscle palpitation findings were negligible and he had no response to an anterior deprogrammer.

At this point, I was still suspicious that muscle tension was causing the headaches. Because I had developed a good relationship with the patient, I was able to further suggest that though I had no concrete evidence, my clinical experience lead me to believe that the problem could be solved with an appliance.

Sure enough, after trying out a Quicksplint there was a significant decrease in his headaches only three days later. It was then a simple step to take records for an appliance.

Helping Patients Make the Connection

What it boils down to is letting the patient make the connection between their symptoms and the cause. Though you might be hesitant to take yourself out of the role of the all-knowing ‘Dr,” many patients respond best to the possibility of treatment when they feel they are in control of the methodology.

Share with patients the evidence you see and what might be causing it, but don’t go into an appointment believing you know all the answers. That is the path to an unproductive dentist-patient relationship.

The patient becomes a part of the diagnosis process and takes on greater responsibility for their own care when they are invited to be observant while using an appliance.

Read more of Dr. Brady’s top clinical posts on managing screw access holes during implant dentistry and treatment planning for peri-implant esthetics.