Treatment planning in dentistry is a step-by-step personalized protocol designed to achieve the patients’ desired oral health. In digital dentistry, a personal dental treatment plan represents the 3D model of the actual condition of the teeth and gums, as well as predictions, designs or visualizations of the desired outcome.
In order to get to this stage, the doctor will use digital imaging equipment combined with treatment planning software to help with visualization and design of the dental treatment. Solutions like these, also called CAD/CAM (Computer Aided Design and Manufacturing) dentistry can be helpful in almost any field in dentistry.
For instance, a virtual simulation of orthodontic treatments will give patients a realistic picture of how their teeth will look at the end of the treatment cycle. In just a few seconds, this type of simulation software relieves the patient of potential fears and doubts associated with the outcome of the treatment. Digital design solutions, for digital denture design for example, make it easy for the patient to relate to all the concrete steps their treatment consists of. Their dentist can show exactly what is done in each stage of the process by pulling up 3D visualizations of the treatment on screen. When combining digital dental design with a digital impression, it makes the planning phase of dental treatment a comfortable and pleasant experience, without uncomfortable and invasive impression trays and materials or insecurity around treatment outcome.
A comprehensive dental treatment plan which meets the expectations of today’s patients and gives them a feeling of satisfaction after each visit should:
- Be clear and transparent, present the current oral health conditions, and a step by step treatment plan as soon as all information is collected.
- Visualize the progress of treatment with a clear time frame.
- Be clear and realistic about patients expectations, fears and insecurities; and communicate possible outcomes and potential nuances that might affect the dental treatment outcome.
- Acknowledge that every patient is unique: the plan should be adapted to suit the patient's financial possibilities, motivation, and last but not least health conditions and treatment urgency.
- Give the patient a clear understanding of the final or potential outcome of treatments.
Some solutions allow dentists to superimpose a future smile on patients' photographs and send a live visualization directly to their mobile phones. Such smile simulators significantly increase patients’ engagement in the treatment planning process.