Dental Practice Advice–Thoughts on “Maintenance”

Dental practice advice

In my dental practice advice series, I’d like to discuss what most of us refer to as “maintenance” or “preventive” care.

Since this type of care is simply a continuation of treatment (i.e. after reconstruction), I recommend not discussing it at length as if it was an entirely new concept following the end of regular treatment.


Because it confuses the patient.

After “reconstruction”, they are  suddenly forced to make a new decision.

It’s sort of like starting all over with them again and having to “re-sell” an entirely different service.

Here’s what I recommend… and as always, take my recommendations with a grain of salt; YOU must ultimately decide what is in the best interest of each individual patient…not me.

The ideal situation is, at the appropriate time, YOU not them recommend that their frequency of care gets reduced as they show signs of staying healthy.

Maybe after being seen once every 2 or 3 months as health stays present (disease absent)…you gradually make recommendations to spread out the maintenance visits.  No need to say anything else.

You treat that next visit no differently than the previous visits. No need to take more time to “sell it”, over explain it, or take them back to the consult room to discuss it in anyway.  It is merely their next visit. That’s it.  Realize that fundamentally, people want to be told what to do by their health provider including you as complex case dentist.

After these visits, you (or your hygienist) should spend 2-3 minutes explaining your findings, then, if appropriate, recommend the next visit. In this example I give me dental practice advice to members to do the following: you might say, “You are doing a lot better, we still need to keep on top of  XXXXX…so I recommend making your next appointment in 2 months and a half…about 12 weeks.”   Then, write the date down on a post it or something, give it to the patient and say something like, “Take this out front and I will see you then.”

This continues until the interval matches the state of health.   At that time, here’s the language, “You’re staying stable with the amount of time going by between your visits.  If you start noticing something deteriorating (blood on your brush, floss, inter-proximal cleaner), I want to see you right away since that can be sign of deterioration and reverting back to the danger of losing teeth or your new dentistry.

And that’s it. This may go on forever for that patient.

You never call it anything. You just take it one visit at a time and let them have/keep the control is my best dental practice advice when it comes to this subject.

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