Helping Your Patients Understand Why They Need Treatment

Understanding Dental Treatment

Why does your dental patient need a crown? Why are you recommending a graft or an implant or a bruxism device? While you may communicate the need for each procedure in clinically correct terms, you may not be answering the “why” question for patients in language they understand. As a result, an unfortunate number of patients will fail to schedule. The good news is you can shift this trend by fine tuning your treatment presentation.

The first thing to keep in mind is the most challenging part for dentists and teams: patients do not speak the same language as you. The clinical terms that roll off your tongue so easily are not so easily understood by your patients. For example, you may tell your patient he has a gray margin that concerns you, that it is leaking bacteria into tooth #3 and for that reason he needs a crown.

The patient, in turn, may hear you saying that your digital x-ray is showing you something that sounds fancy, but the bottom line is nothing hurts and you are not scheduling.

By contrast, if you convey your treatment recommendations using easy-to-understand language that builds value, your patient will get the message. If you tell the patient he has a cavity on his upper right first molar and you recommend getting a crown placed in the next month, the patient will understand the message. You are recommending a crown because he has a cavity: that is the “why” explained in non-clinical English.

The better you and your team are at consistently speaking in non-clinical terms, at using value building terms such as cavity, disease, tooth loss, and discomfort, the more patients will understand why you are recommending treatment. When patients clearly understand why, they are far more likely to schedule.

Posted on Nov 27, 2016

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