I worked in a dental office for years and I remember one patient that came in for dental care. She was a new patient and worked as a model. Her chief complaint was her front teeth were yellow and she wanted them to be bright white for her job.
A quick tour of her mouth discovered that her posterior teeth were decayed and needed restoration as well as periodontal issues. So…
As a Patient-Centered Care Provider
What do we address? The patient’s chief complaint or severely decayed posterior teeth and periodontal issues?
How should the situation be addressed with the patient?
In this situation, two of the eight principles of patient-centered care were applied:
Respect for patients’ values, preferences and expressed needs
The dentist sat down with the patient and discussed how just whitening the front teeth would address her cosmetic needs; however, the severe decay and periodontal issues needed to be addressed prior to bleaching the front teeth.
The patient stated that she wanted the posterior teeth extracted and the front teeth whitened. She stated that she eats very little and really does not need the posterior teeth. The patient did not understand the connection between the front teeth, posterior teeth and the supporting structures.
Information and education
This is where patient education was needed and after a thorough discussion of what would happen to the front teeth after the posterior teeth were extracted, drifting and spacing, she made the decision to do all of the needed dental work.
Why Patient-Centered Care Was Necessary
As healthcare professionals we must give our best to patient education and not just treatment. Patients need to understand how they can have some control over their health.
The end result for this patient was a healthy oral cavity and a beautiful smile.