Many dental practices today are experiencing an epidemic with patient no-shows and are not keeping their dental hygiene appointments. There seems to be three main reasons for this all too common epidemic:
- No money for oral health
- Can’t take the time,
- Fear: Bad dental experience(s)
Each concern is legitimate.
Let’s consider this scenario for a moment: how would a patient diagnosed with cancer respond after being told they required lengthy and expensive chemotherapy and/or radiation treatments that may create life-altering side effects?
Do you believe they would most likely go to herculean lengths to obtain treatment regardless of those factors because they would want a chance to achieve health again? You answered “Yes,” I hope.
Many dental professionals in today’s world of dentistry struggle to tell patients what they need to have a healthy mouth and even leave out the important information to their patients about oral health contributing to our total health.
Let’s flip this fear of telling our dental patients the truth about their disease and try creating a “partnership” with your patients.
Gather your necessary patient information and then work as a team: i.e. the patient and you the provider, to discover what you see in the patients mouth, establish goals to offer the best treatment options while considering patients total health and then listen to what is valuable and important to your patient.
Too many patients today see their mouth as being completely separate from everything outside the oral cavity. In their mind periodontal disease affects, well… the gums. End of story – at least for them.
The truth, of course, is, as the song goes, “The knee bone’s connected to the thigh bone. The thigh bone’s connected to the hip bone. The hip bone’s connected to the back bone…”and so on.
And this song really should end with it’s all connected to your oral cavity.
Any disease condition in any part of the body can and does impact our total health and this includes the mouth.
- 7 Steps to Create a Partnership with Your Hygiene Patients:
- Spend time to build rapport vs. laying the patient back immediately upon entering the treatment room.
- Explain what the patient is there for vs. recline the patient to begin treatment
- Collect your data and sit with your patient knee-to-knee and eye-to-eye to look together and discover the patients’ condition
- Understand what is important to your patient
- Talk benefits and value of completing treatment with your patient
- Be prepare to overcome patient objections
- Always follow up when patients decline to schedule for necessary treatment
Next time your patient feels tentative about scheduling their periodontal therapy, future hygiene appointments, or necessary restorative care, try “partnering with your patient” instead of telling them what you think they need.
When patients leave without scheduling a next appointment, i.e., necessary restorative, periodontal care and/or future hygiene appointments, always have a plan to follow up with your patient to get them scheduled.
Most patients want to live a longer and healthier life so take time to explain the benefits of regular hygiene appointments. Let all your patients know that oral health will mean a longer and healthier life.
Understanding the mouth – body connection is one reason most of your patients will accept treatment and return for routine hygiene appointments.
Don’t most of us want to live a longer and healthier life?
Is that a good reason to keep returning for hygiene appointments?
What do you think? Please feel free to comment.
Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS, is founder of Dental Hygiene Solutions, powered by Dental Practice Solutions, Debbie founded Dental Practice Solutions in 2000 and soon after she began her consulting business she knew that the hygiene department should be her focus. Dental Hygiene Solutions takes a holistic approach to created efficient and profitable dental hygiene departments.
In addition to her state-of-the art virtual hygiene empowerment training, Debbie and her team offers in-office trainings. Debbie has written for and been featured in numerous dental journals; specifically being named one Dentistry Todays Top Consultants 11 years in a row! Dental Hygiene Solutions also offers webinars and many free resources on her website www.dentalpracticesolutions.com and a no-cost hygiene department training on her website www.dentalhygiene.solutions