If you were to search online using the words “treatment plan” as your search query phrase, you would undoubtedly find many articles and templates that relate to both the medical and mental health fields, but finding the same volume of information with respect to the dental treatment plan is a bit more difficult. This is partially due to the fact that there has been very little in the way of literature regarding this topic, despite its importance in the field of dentistry. In this article we will try to remedy that situation a bit, by first defining what a dental treatment plan is along with its purpose, followed by a brief look at some of the primary factors that influence treatment planning in dentistry as well as a few of the basic components of those plans.
What Is a Dental Treatment Plan?
The dental treatment plan is a document in which dentists begin formulating and recording a rational sequence of treatment steps for a patient’s dental care. This sequence of steps is typically ordered in terms of greatest need, but generally speaking, treatment planning is a system in which dentists will first eliminate disease and take care of teeth which are causing the patient pain, followed by steps to restore an efficient, comfortable and functional set of teeth.
The purpose of the dental treatment plan is to:
- List the various treatments the patient will need
- List the various treatments the patient requests
- Prioritize those treatments based first on immediate need, followed by the patient’s request
- Guide a patient’s visits over time
Factors that Influence the Dental Treatment Plan
There are several different factors that influence a dental treatment plan, but according to a recent article in the Journal of Dental Health Education, the three most prominent factors are:
- Patient’s Disease Status
- Patient’s Preference
- Patient’s Ability to Pay
Naturally, the presence of disease—disease which could cause harm and lead to other problems—is the first factor dentists will consider when formulating a treatment plan. This is why at most initial dentist appointments the dentist will first check for any presence of infection before proceeding any further. This is usually followed by the patient’s preference—such as a tooth that is giving them pain—and lastly, any additional work needed will usually be contingent on a patient’s ability to pay for it.
Dental Treatment Plan: Required Elements
The dental treatment plan, much like a medical treatment plan, should include several required elements. Some of these include:
- Patient name and information. Here dentists will record the patient’s name, address and telephone number.
- Patient number. Most dental treatment plans will assign a number to the patient for recordkeeping and billing purposes.
- Type of treatment. On the left hand side of the treatment plan document, the dentist will typically list the type of treatment needed, along with a corresponding date. These treatments are a prioritized list of care based on the factors listed above.
- Price. On the right hand side, the price for each treatment should be recorded next to the corresponding treatment.
Normally, a dentist will share the treatment plan with the patient so they understand not only what their treatments will ultimately cost, but also so they will know which type of treatment will be performed on each future appointment date.