Building trust with patients
You made it … you are practicing dentistry. As your prize, you get to juggle patient care and build trust with new patients.
Accomplishing this without the safety net of dental school can be a challenge – it’s hard to keep those balls in the air during the best of times. But how do you turn one-time patients into regular visitors to your dental office?
Simply put, how do you keep patients coming back?
Building trust with patients who have dental issues can be difficult, but with a gentle positive tone and remembering a few critical points, you’ll be on your way towards building a dental practice your patients will love.
- The gentle positive tone of an advisor is always better than the harsh tone of a supreme commander. Positive framing will help you put a nice spin on potentially difficult situations and then move on to the concern. Take great care to never scold or judge. Use intra oral photos or X-rays to illustrate what the concern is and be brief – a sentence or two will do.
- Always give multiple (2 or 3) solutions. Remember, this is the patient’s decision, not yours! It’s very important to remember that non-ideal treatment might be the best treatment for that patient at that moment in time. It is also important to remember that doing nothing and monitoring the situation is also an option. Of course, gently tell the patient what might happen without treatment, but again, take the tone of an advisor!
- The most important question you can ask a patient is, “What works best for you?” Always give your patients the final say in any decision related to their oral health. You can gently push them in one direction or another, but in the end, it’s up to the patient.
Here’s an example of the end of a conversation I recently had with a patient of mine, “Mrs. Smith.”
You know, Mrs. Smith, this filling looks great! However I am concerned about the large broken filling in the upper right. Looking at the picture you can see the fracture lines and the decay underneath.
Now Mrs. Smith, we have two solutions. The best in my opinion is to do a cap, which will strengthen the tooth for a long time. We could also do a large filling. While it’s not as strong and doesn’t protect against future fracture as well, the filling will only take one appointment and is less expensive.
What works best for you?
When you frame things positively, giving your patients options, and ask for patient input, you’ll end up acting on the patient’s decision and building trust with the patient.
Dr. Kenyon Glor is a New Dentist Now guest blogger and a member of the American Dental Association, Ohio Dental Association and Lorain County Dental Society. He is a family dentist in Wellington, Ohio and has been practicing there for 27 years. Dr. Glor completed his dental training at the Indiana University School of Dentistry. When he’s not practicing, he enjoys family activities with his wife, Betsy, and children, Ethan, Benjamin and Emily. He also loves basketball, soccer and sailing.