The New Patient Examination

Published Date 08/12/2013

The new patient examination is critical to properly treating a patient. Everything we do and recommend comes from this important fact-finding mission.

When a new patient presents to our office, we begin with a thorough review of his or her medical and dental history. I then do a brief intraoral examination to ascertain the radiographic needs of the patient. I begin with an extraoral soft-tissue examination of the head and neck, along with the lips and the cheeks intraorally. I then start my visual caries examination. If I detect an area of concern, I use an intraoral camera (Polaris, Air Techniques) for enhanced magnification and documentation. If my visual and physical exam indicates there may be caries present, I use a caries detection device (Spectra, Air Techniques) to supplement that data and ensure a more accurate diagnosis.

After concluding the caries examination, I perform an intraoral soft-tissue exam under white light. I then complete my exam using an adjunctive oral cancer detection device (VELscope, DenMat).

When gathering radiographic documentation for a new patient, there are many options. In my office, we have the choice of both phosphor plates and sensors. In many cases, a single sensor size (we only have number 2 sensors) does not work for everyone, and phosphor plates are a good option to have on hand. The following photographs show many of the steps when using phosphor plate technology during a new patient exam.

After gathering and recording all diagnostic data from this initial examination and entering it into the patient?s electronic file, I spend time with the patient discussing his or her dental health using images from the exam, as well as other visual and educational aids. All patient questions are answered immediately either directly by me or through the use of patient education software (Guru, Henry Schein Dental).

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