We’re excited! Are you excited?
You’ve decided on your first patient(s), now it’s time to plan the sequence of appointments. This will simplify things for you, the patient and your team in terms of scheduling and discussing the salient points at the right time!
Most dentists plan for two appointments to start:
If you haven’t already done so, the goal of this appointment is to discuss orthodontic treatment (in particular, clear aligner therapy) and assess suitability.
If suitable, the next appointment should be a 30-60 minute appointment to collect clinical data and proper records.
Note: if you already know in advance that your patient is keen on starting, you can lump this into one long appointment (if your schedule allows!)
Typically 15-30 mins
The main goal is to determine suitability and if this patient is dentally fit.
Some common questions to ask yourself as you think through whether or no to take on a case:
Do you feel comfortable with this person?
Have they got realistic expectations?
Do you want to see them every 4-8 weeks for the next few months?
✔ Explain what clear aligners are, how they work, and describe a rough timeline
- Be sure to explain upfront the importance of having dental supervision before, during and after
- Reiterate the importance of patient compliance with treatment and need to wear aligners 20-22hrs/day
✔ Explain the sequence of appointments, with the records one being more lengthy
✔ Discuss a rough price for the full treatment, including any extras (whitening, retainers)
You may want to consider charging a deposit if they proceed to the records appointment (>90% of dentists do)
✔ Be sure to set the expectation that you cannot yet guarantee specific outcomes or suitability; this will come following the records appointment
✔ If you are planning to work with a specialist you may tell patients this; many find this a real selling point
Prior to the patient coming in, I would familiarise yourself with the PRO form! This form has been designed to capture all the data you need for an excellent ortho assessment. Once squared away, here’s a quick checklist of what to run through during your appointment:
The ortho assessment is really important to complete in as much detail as possible to best understand the right option for each patient. Your nurse can help you fill out the form with your help!
- Clinical photographs are central to the treatment design process so taking the time to get them right (or redo them!) is always worth the effort
- Ensure that you provide high quality impressions for digitisation. A refresher guide on how to get imps with high definition can be found here
✔ The next step will be the creation of the orthodontic design which will be visible in a 3D animation
✔ This is a good time to discuss some of the potential auxiliaries with clear aligners: such as attachments, elastics, and IPR to understand if there are any patient preferences that might affect the treatment plan
✔ It may be that certain movements are not possible due to limitations of clear aligners, or that the specialist advises against clear aligners all together
✔ If that is the case, it may feel disappointing but it’s good to know ahead of time if the treatment isn’t able to deliver you the results you want
✔ The workup isn’t wasted as this can be sent to another clinician (primary or secondary care) if they want to be referred on
✔ At the next appointment you will agree on the final plan and complete the general consent paperwork
✔ Explain the payment schedule and the start date
✔ Let them know again the sequence of appointments and how long it will take to fit the aligners once the patient has agreed to go ahead
This is just the start of your clear aligner journey with us!