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Part 2 Management Tip #25

Establish Systems for Comprehensive Exams and Case Presentation

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Tip 25: Establish Systems for Comprehensive Exams and Case Presentation

The unexamined life is not worth living.
- Socrates

There is no such thing as presentation talent; it is called Presentation Skills.
- David JP Phillips

We love to hear stories. We don't need another lecture. Just ask your kids.
- Unknown

I love to teach. Occasionally recent dental school graduates or students shadow me in my practice. There is nothing that excites me more than finding the opportunity to show a young dentist the value of the comprehensive examination. Many young dentists drop the comprehensive examination sometime in their career because many of the elements of the examination do not reveal anything more than a minimal or cursory examination. This can be a career-changing mistake. The comprehensive examination system can change everything and is one of the two most important systems in your practice.

The examination reveals all of the important information needed to make a proper diagnosis. Any dentist who is interested in doing complete dentistry must make this commitment to get that information. But there are other reasons to do a structured, complete examination on every patient.

One morning I had a young dentist shadowing me. The patient's chief complaint was mild pain near a lower molar that acted as a terminal abutment for an aging three unit bridge. She was a strong-willed woman who wanted action. She wanted me to remove the bridge and replace it with two implants…she read her options on the Internet. I explained to her that if I did that and did not relieve her discomfort, how would she feel? I explained that in order to get to the source of her pain I would have to do a complete examination.

The exam revealed significant occlusal disease. Her pain was caused by significant tenderness of the master muscle. The young dentist was in awe. He never would have guessed. He didn't even know how to examine for occlusal disease. I told him he learned how to do it in dental school, but he just raised his eyebrows. "Most dentists don't have a system," I told him.

After I completed my examination, and took the necessary records, I asked my patient to come back once I studied everything. The strong-willed woman then wrote one of the best reviews I ever received for my website, raving about the examination process and my thoroughness.

Lesson: The comprehensive examination is the most important system for your career.

The second system is an extension of the first. We need a system to present our findings to the patient. Once we collect all of the data, the difficult part is to explain our findings to the patient in a manner that will result in action on their part. This is going beyond getting the patient to "say yes" as so many consultants teach us. The result of our clear explanation should be action…not intent.

Explaining my case presentation system is way beyond the extent of this short guide. Significant skills are required in order to put a case presentation system in place. I will go over a few in Part III—Skills.

Both of these systems can become complex. They both have been responsible for my own successful and sustained career. I have written two books, The Art of the Examination and The Art of Case Presentation, which will help the dentist put these systems in place. I also do coaching and seminars on these two most important but undervalued systems.

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