My personal rule is that no matter how rough a patient looks, no matter how jacked-up their teeth are, I assume the best. This holds true for my clients too. No matter how low their perio percentage or how many ‘perio prophies’ they’re performing, I assume the best.
The fact is, we all do the best we can with the resources we have.
So if a patient hasn’t been to the dentist in 10 yrs, I don’t automatically assume they are intentionally neglecting their health or they just don’t care. I have no idea what’s been going on in their lives over those years. Many times, the stories you hear will break your heart. Or maybe they’ve had a demanding job that keeps them on the road 5 days a week. Regardless, I like them to know they’ve entered a ‘no guilt zone’. I can’t take credit for this term. You know my clever friend Dr. Chris Bowman, right? He’s the one who came up with this term and it works like a charm.
Once the patient knows you’re not there to judge or scold them, they are instantly at ease. And when they’re relaxed, they’re more likely to be receptive to your recommendations.
Here’s an exercise to do at your next team meeting:
Start with a neutral example such as this…
Heather got an F on her report card
She’s lazy She needs a pre-requisite course
She didn’t study Her note taking skills need improving
Now we’ll use a dental example…
John has decay between all his teeth
He doesn’t care He has a hard time flossing and no one has taught
him an alternative
He drinks soda all day He has low salivary pH and is taking Zoloft
Your task is to:
1- List on the left side all the assumptions you make about each other, your
doctor, your team andyour patients on a daily basis.
2-List on the right side what the truth could be. You’ll be amazed how this will re-frame how we communicate our patients and how receptive they are to your recommendations.