Each case we work on involves multiple factors that weigh heavily on the success of the restorative process and final outcome. Identifying the correct tooth color and position, selecting the appropriate restorative material, and having the technical knowledge and talent to carry out the restoration are but a few things that influence our ability to successfully complete a case. But there are other factors that we rarely mention as important, such as involvement in the diagnostic evaluation process and meeting face-to-face with the patient to discuss their oral situation, as well as their expectations for the esthetics, function, and fit of the final prosthetic.
These often-overlooked aspects of the process can play a vital role in the outcome. Most importantly, working with patients can help us put our hearts into the process and to see our cases as solutions for real people, not just a set of casts in a pan that need to get processed. And, finally, seeing the patient’s happiness after seating helps us understand the priceless service we provide.
Unfortunately, most technicians do not have the opportunity to interact on a personal level with their patients. Photography and video have at least helped us put a face to each case, and the use of instant online video conferencing allows us to talk one-on-one with the patient. But as advanced as photography, video, and video-conferencing technologies have become, they are still no substitute for human interaction between the patient, dentist, and dental technician. That said, as our businesses stretch their reach across state lines and international borders, these communication tools have become vital links to creating more interaction with our patients and team members.
Sometimes we allow our passion for perfection to cause us to lose of sight of the human element of our work. As technicians, our time and effort on the most minute details can easily be undone by the patient who is unhappy with the final prosthesis. Our goal is to improve the health of our patients. We are healthcare providers, not manufacturers as we are classified. The feedback and responses of satisfied patients help us to push ourselves to become even better at what we do.
I am not saying I can interact with every patient for every single restorative case that crosses my bench. However, seeing our work intraorally and understanding each patient’s needs and desires before we start the case will help us improve what we do and will influence the esthetic and functional results. We have the ability to help change lives with every case. It starts with our knowledge and ability to understand our patients’ needs and expectations.
Peter Pizzi, MDT, CDT