I did not understand about diagnostic planning until I was in graduate school. But to me, this is a fundamental concept that should be understood at all levels amongst all dental practitioners, generalists or specialists. It is a diagnostic step that can change the treatment plan entirely and helps the patient decide what treatment solutions would be the most suitable based on their aesthetic and functional desires. It is a step that helps define the prosthetic space that can blend harmoniously with the rest of the dentition. Finally it is a critical step in managing many cases with complex problems.
I think we don’t spend enough time understanding the value of diagnostic planning. Diagnostic planning can take many forms. It can be as simple as arranging denture teeth in wax in the available prosthetic space . It can be waxing up damaged teeth for a more favourable contour. And it can also take the form of cutting segments of teeth to simulate enamelplasty, orthodontic and surgical movements. And with the advance of digital technology, this can all be done in the virtual world as well as the analog world.
The best analogy I have come up with is to think of yourself as an interior designer. Before you go out and decide what pieces of furniture you want to occupy the space, you need to plan and measure out the space. You need to understand your client’s wish list to have the right colour and style. You need to draw out the plan to understand what space you have to ensure it is aesthetically pleasing and functional.
Then again, how many of us think we don’t need an interior designer and started going shopping for pieces of furniture that end up being too big or too small for the room. Or the colour coordination didn’t quite come out how we envision it. Or we play with the pieces of furniture around the room to make it more functional and aesthetically pleasing for the eyes.
As dentists, orthodontists, prosthodontists, periodontists, oral surgeons, we move, cut, glue, replace pieces of oral tissues in ways to hope to improve this space to be both functional and aesthetic. The value of planning starts at the diagnostic stage. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Thank you for reading.