Why Talk to Your Dentist Before Treatment?

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If you’ve been following my series of articles over the past two years, you would know that I’m big on treatment planning.

Very often I encounter patients that have never experienced having their dental care mapped out for them, and it is largely for the patient’s benefit. Of course, I also benefit from having a strategy and knowing how long to plan for visits. Nonetheless, I’m still frequently asked – “Do I need to come in just to talk about treatment?”

The overwhelming answer is YES! For the past 30 years, I have conducted diagnosis appointments with virtually all my patients. And yes – every patient gets a treatment plan.

Not every patient requires a diagnosis appointment. There are often situations where a diagnosis appointment is not required.

Many of my patients have completed their treatment plans and are in the “active maintenance” phase of their care. The majority of these patients are dentally stable: their restorative care has been completed and is functional, they know how to manage their diet, and they have a home care routine that they implement regularly with high levels of effectiveness.

These patients need the most basic routine care: professional cleaning, routine x-rays and regular coaching around the further improvement of their home care. At BelleDental, because we check our own work with the same critical eye that we check all the dentistry that comes into our practice, from time to time, we find something lacking. This is usually not a new strategy – in these instances, we can simply discuss the additional care required by the patient, provide a quotation and schedule treatment.

Very often, patients present to us with complex dental needs that have not been met elsewhere. These patients have almost invariably never experienced a diagnosis appointment – yet these are the patients that most need this kind of discussion and planning. Their problems are complex – very often, problems that may be solved in a multitude of ways. They rely on us to outline – to identify the problem – and then present ways that it may be solved.

These patients must have a diagnosis appointment for the following reasons:

  1. A discussion can be had around the various treatment options, including each option’s positive and negative aspects.
  2. A more detailed understanding of the option they are leaning towards – including possible problems around delivery, complications, and a discussion of unknowns.
  3. An understanding of the scope of works. Sometimes we break the treatment down into phases and focus on the most needed treatment in the first phase. This is important. By dealing with treatment that is most in need, we can hopefully steer the patient’s treatment away from more complicated (expensive) therapies and even avoid tooth loss. Additionally, by phasing treatment, patients can constructively and progressively work through their care – spreading costs over time and maximizing any benefit they may have from insurances.
  4. The conversation had at the diagnosis appointment ensures patients are in the “box seat” regarding their treatment choices and are consenting to the treatment they desire.
  5. Lastly, understanding patient desires around dental care – and the planning that goes with it – can highlight possibilities around creating efficiencies within the plan. These kinds of efficiencies can save both time (number and duration of appointments) and, even more importantly, save money.

At BelleDental, we include the diagnosis appointment as part of our $240 all-inclusive new patient examination. It’s just another way in which we endeavour to tailor our care to patient needs and improve the efficiency of the delivery of our dentistry.

This article was originally published here at intouch Magazine.


Alex has had a career focused on low-biologic cost reconstructive cosmetic dental care – common sense teeth for life. Alex services clients in the Hunter Valley, Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and Maitland areas.

For more information about our treatments or to book an appointment please don’t hesitate to call us on (02) 4946 9122