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Conversations That Matter

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Unless a patient comes into your office with an emergency, he or she will most likely be coming in for what they would call a routine “cleaning and an examination”. That patient would love to hear you say something like, “Boy, you’ve really done a great job. You’re healthy, there’s nothing wrong. Have a gold star.”

However, that may not always be the case.  How many times have you told a patient that she or he needed a crown and they dragged their feet to have it done? Maybe they were worried about the expense, or they didn’t quite “get” how important it was because their mouth wasn’t in pain.

There is a way to connect with your patients so they value their oral health as much as you do.

Build Trust

Imagine walking into a dental office for the first time. You don’t know anyone. The hygienist says hello, sits you down and immediately wants to look into your mouth.

A little off-putting, don’t you think? Some people would feel downright violated from that experience because the office hasn’t built any trust with them.

Building trust is about creating a rapport with your clients that tells them, “You’re in good hands, we’re capable, and you’re safe.”

It’s a little bit like dating. We’re either going to hit it off or we’re not, but believe it or not, there’s a strategy to hitting it off with someone. You look them in the eyes, you mirror their speech patterns, and you match their tone of voice. And here’s the big one, instead of doing all the talking, you ask them great values-based questions.

It’s A Discovery Process - Ask Values-Based Questions

The idea behind Values-Based Questions is to encourage engagement with the patient and find an “emotional link”.  A Values-Based Question might be something like, “What’s most important to you in your overall dental health?”

The patient will probably struggle to answer that question because no one has ever asked them.

A doctor client of mine asks all his patients that same question.  In one interaction, the patient replied, “I want to keep my teeth for a lifetime.” Knowing that it’s not as important WHAT the patient wants as WHY they want it, he followed up with, “Why is that important to you?”

The patient told him a story about his dad, an elderly man who hadn’t taken care of his teeth and wore dentures. The patient had taken his dad out to a steak dinner for his birthday (his dad loved steak), but when it arrived on his plate, he had to cut it up in to tiny pieces because he couldn’t chew it. The patient said, “I never want that to happen to me.” That's the emotional link.

Relate Back

Now imagine that the doctor goes on with the visit and looks into this patient’s mouth. The doctor discovers that he has periodontal disease and needs treatment right away.

Of course, the doctor will tell him the results from his examination. He might also go on to say something like, “You told me that it was important to you to keep your teeth for a lifetime. So, we have an issue here that we need to take care of because over a period of time, this problem is going to get worse. However, if we take care of it now, it won’t be a problem later.”

The doctor has a real opportunity to connect with the patient and help him engage with his health by showing him how he can achieve his goal of keeping his teeth for life. The patient is much more likely to move forward with proper treatment when he sees how dental health will affect his future.

How do you help your patients value their oral hygiene? Share your ideas in the comments below.

When it comes to helping your patients value their oral health, this is just the tip of the iceberg. If you’re ready for more Click below.

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