I’m sure like I have, you all have heard some version of the following quote:
- You Only Treat What You Plan
- You Only Plan What You Diagnose
- You Only Diagnose What You See
I’ve heard the credit for this statement given to many influential people in dentistry. Whoever gets the credit, they truly understood the essence of what we do, and the balance between clinical excellence and success in business. Dentistry is practiced in many ways, influenced by the leadership of the dentist and the needs of the patient. From higher volume offices where patients have areas of disease corrected to comprehensive practices that partner with patients to establish and maintain long term health, we all improve lives. Many of us leave dental school knowing we have a journey of learning ahead of us in order to serve our patients comprehensively. The question is where to start, what subjects to study and what to learn?
Often our attention turns to new techniques, or improving our technical skills. There is no doubt that technical proficiency is a critical component in dentistry. On the other hand, how does it serve us to know how to do a particular technique if we can not identify where it would benefit our patients, therefore it isn’t part of our treatment plans? I think for every technique we learn it is critical to understand how it integrates into a comprehensive approach to health. With this in mind our growth as dentists comes from becoming a better diagnostician. Diagnosis rests on knowing the signs and symptoms of the process in question, and training our eyes and ears to notice the subtle indications.
So What Do You See? Take a look at the patient photo included with this post and make a list of all the things you see. Some may be definitive findings, and others may be subtle indications that you wonder about. These questions are what will drive the exam process, the records you ask permission to take and the conversations you have with the patient.