JUST WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERED
WORRY-FREE FOR 5 FULL YEARS
2020 2020 2020 2020 2022
HOW ETHICAL IS YOUR NEW PATIENT EXAM?
Deferrable needs can be just that—
deferred—for a reasonable time without
resulting in more complex problems for
patients. Let’s imagine a patient presents with
significant decay on numerous teeth that,
ideally, require full-coverage crowns, yet
financial constraints do not allow the patient
to restore all the teeth this way in a short
period of time. By restoring all the teeth with
direct restorations, though larger than ideal,
the decay process is halted. Occlusion and
function are treated to maintain harmony and
minimize the risk to the large restorations.
Now stabilized, the patient can have teeth
restored with crowns as finances allow, and
the risk of further harm has been reduced.
Immediate needs have become deferrable.
Elective/optional needs are ones that
do not lead to the further breakdown of the
system. After a complete exam, for example,
it is determined that a patient needs Nos.
7–10 restored with indirect restorations due
to wear and recurrent decay. The gingival
levels are uneven, and it would result in a
more ideal esthetic outcome if the patient
were to have crown lengthening on the central
incisors. The patient must be informed that
periodontal treatment to solely improve the
cosmetic outcome of the case is elective. The
patient could confidently elect to proceed
with the indirect restorations without peri-
odontal treatment, knowing the system itself
will not progressively worsen.
The principle of veracity, or “truthfulness,”
in tandem with an implication-focused com-
plete examination, frees the dentist to always
offer the patient the ideal treatment plan,
sometimes with a creative twist. Dedication
to the complete exam process boosts the
provider’s confidence when proposing
appropriate, necessary treatment and discussing acceptable modifications. Patients who
trust their dentists proceed with treatment.
Even patients with financial constraints more
readily accept ideal treatment plans when
they can be phased over a period of time
without sacrificing the clinical outcome. It’s
So, let me ask you now, are you providing
the complete care your patients deserve?
1. Preamble. American
Accessed June 29,
2. ADA statement on
dental patient rights
2009. Accessed June
attended the University
of Louisville, where she
undergraduate degree as
well as her doctor of
dental medicine degree.
Dr. Johnson is a former
instructor at the
University of Louisville
Dental School and the
University of Florida
College of Dentistry. She
now practices in
and is an associate
faculty member at The