When scheduling a new patient exam, there are often a number of questions that the front office staff will ask you. We’ve discussed the importance of these questions in a previous blog post, as well as the benefit of answering them honestly. However, I want to revisit the topic of the new patient exam, particularly the goal of this exam and the value in scheduling the correct appointment for you.
When scheduling your first appointment, there are two options– a comprehensive exam or a more limited exam. Determining which is right for you is ultimately decided based on the answers to your screening questions.
However, despite our staffs’ recommendation, many people still hesitate to schedule the longer comprehensive exam.
The Goal of the New Patient Exam
To paraphrase Pete Dawson of the Dawson Academy for continuing education, the goal of the new patient exam is that every problem can be seen and understood then clarify the implications of not treating the problems in a timely manner.
It is for this reason that scheduling the correct exam is so important to improving your oral health. For new patients, the goal of the exam is not just to get your teeth cleaned, but to make sure that they are sustainable and not in a state of breakdown.
If you have had more complex dentistry in the past – implants, bridges, root canals and periodontal surgery – a full exam will certainly be beneficial to ensure that we have enough time to develop a strategy for sustainable dental health.
The goal is, once we establish a relationship – 10-15 years from now you should be in a better state of health than on your first visit. You are in a lot more control of your dental health than you realize. This is not as easily achieved with your overall health because the medical model is not designed to focus on prevention. The dental model we use in our practice is focused on prevention and long term predictability. We try to stay 2 steps ahead of the problems. Patients find there is long-term value in this approach.
In this type of a relationship I am acting as the advocate for you to develop a strategy based on your particular vulnerabilities and weaknesses. The goal is to get your teeth to outlive you. Without this plan, you have no chance of attaining this.
It’s like a financial planner – they are trying to make your money outlive you. Our goal is to get your teeth to outlive you. I always tell patients if they put their work in during their 50’s and 60’s they will be able to coast in their 70’s and 80’s. I often joke with them and tell them I don’t know how their hips and knees and other body parts are going to hold up but we know their teeth are going to be there; and, they get that.