Splint Detail Communication: 4 Steps
Splint Communication From Physical Therapist to Dentist
As a dentist who learned to modify splints from my physical therapist colleague, I hope these suggestions will pave the way to a smooth working relationship.
1. Lead with what you need. Once you have diagnosed your patient to need an oral appliance to control her body, be direct and make that point first. “I have been seeing Sally for her ongoing neck pain, and have determined that a dental intervention is needed. I’d like to prescribe a flat plane splint to reduce cervicalgia.” See where that conversation takes you – the word “prescribe” is authoritative without being offensive, and may actually help the dentist not to feel overwhelmed with the responsibility for figuring out what you already know.
2. Develop your relationship with the end in mind. If what you want is to establish a mutually respectful relationship, where each party is open minded about the new learning needed to work for the patient’s highest good, then work in your initial conversation to build up the value the patient already has in her dentist — particularly if you get pushback on your recommendation. “I understand your reservations. I will say, that when I have done this collaborative work with other dentists, this approach has been very successful. Sally shared with me your longstanding history with you, and I admire the trust she has placed in you. Do you think you could help us?”
3. Be the expert on what you know. You are not responsible for being the expert on what the dentist knows, only for what you know. Feeling intimidated by a colleague in a different specialty is placing the emphasis negatively on your own feelings, as opposed to on your patient’s highest good. Sharing new learning can stir up feelings of inadequacy both on the recipient’s part (I don’t understand this! Did I forget everything I learned in school?) as well as the author’s part (am I explaining this right? Do I really know what I’m talking about?). For this reason, stay calm and grounded, and remember these uncomfortable feelings are temporary and less important than your desire for your patient to get the help she needs.
4. Become a resource in the community. Bite splints that are adjusted on a neutral neck last longer! Orthodontics done for a managed cranial strain don’t relapse as often! Whatever the treatment protocol is, you are making the dentist look good. Offer to present a lunch-and-learn to other specialties, highlighting the benefits of collaborative care. Ask your local dentist if you can be a guest participant in his study club — he may invite you to speak to his group, wherein you can go into a bit more depth. By showing just a few simple case studies that help correlate reduced bruxism on neutral splints for example, you position yourself as able to help the dentist, as well as the patient.
See how Mike Cantrell MPT PRC and Elizabeth Caughey DDS collaborate here http://www.cantrellcenter.com/integrative-postural-therapy/