Isn’t it frustrating when you’ve just seated a recall patient and the first words out of their mouth are, “I only want a cleaning today”? You explain they haven’t had x-rays or an exam for 18 months and they still say, “Just clean my teeth”. When asked why they don’t want x-rays and exam, these patients almost always say, “Because you always ‘find’ something wrong!” Wouldn’t it be nice if you could avoid this situation all together?
Let’s look at this from the patients’ point of view for a moment. Bob comes in toady for what he believes is ‘just a cleaning’. We do the necessary diagnostics, and Bob has needs, which we point out to him.
It goes something like this, “Bob, I found a crack on your LR molar and a leaking filling on the tooth next to it. Here let me show you.”
Meanwhile, Bob is thinking ‘Here they go again, looking for problems. That’s why they aways find something!’
Then the doctor comes in to do the exam and asks our ‘findings’ were!
Think with me on this! The patient has no pain, no bleeding at home, no problems as far as they’re concerned and then we ‘poke’ around and voila, we find something. To the patient it appears as though we are on a scavenger hunt, trying to find all the things wrong with their teeth & gums.
The truth is, the patient walked in the door with the problem.
We didn’t find it, the patient has it!
The words we use can have a huge psychological impact on the patient! Next time you are sharing your clinical observations with the patient, try saying something along these lines:
“Bob, you have a crack on this tooth!”
“Bob, you have several 6mm pockets and bleeding in this area!”
“Bob, how long has this tooth back here been cracked?
“How long have you had this gum infection on the lower right?”
Set your intention now to stop using the ‘F’ word and replace it with YOU HAVE!