Preventing patient dissatisfaction, Part 2

This month's tip addresses the assessment of the edentulous patient.

Joseph J. Massad, DDS

For more on this topic, go to and search using the following key words: informed consent, prosthesis, implant, edentulous patient, Dr. Joe Massad.

Welcome back! This month’s tip addresses the assessment of the edentulous patient.

Since last month’s column, in which I discussed that patients should sign an informed consent before agreeing to prosthetics, I have received a number of responses. Wow! I thought the many responses I received would enlighten many of you. So I decided to do a follow-up column.

Let’s call this a rebuttal to the many who called or sent an e-mail about their experiences. They thought that a signed consent form might create more trouble than not, and they said that just talking to the patient was sufficient.

In a nutshell, I agree with many of your responses that a good rapport with patients can avert complaints and unnecessary legal remedies; however, many dentists have varying skills in communication and there are times when we say one thing and our patients interpret something else.

But we should, in the majority of cases, determine at the assessment appointment whether or not we may have a problem patient. I created an assessment and examination form for the edentulous patient in the late 1970s.

I began with 23 items in reviewing a patient’s assessment and evaluation. Today I have 62. In most cases, this assessment and examination protocol has provided me with the information to determine the outcome of my dental treatment, and to be able to discuss with patients my recommendations for their particular prosthodontic needs.

Shown below is the form I use for edentulous patients before I commit to be their dental provider. Please feel free to send me an e-mail if you would like a copy.

In closing, as Dr. L.D. Pankey once told me, the best way to avert problems is to know your patient. But using a written informed consent is helpful, and I believe necessary, since we never really know what each patient may desire.

Since this is not a perfect world, I believe that dentists need to consider adapting to today’s patient climate so we can practice dentistry with the least amount of stress.

See you next month. I hope my pleasure in dentistry will also be yours ... Joe Massad.

Dr. Joseph Massad may be reached at (918) 749-5600 or at

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