What Do You Think Is on Your Dental Patient’s Mind?
They say that the best dental care starts with knowing your patients. The idea is that the more that you understand their needs, the better you can improve your practice.
Consider this for a moment: what if you could get inside the minds of people who sit on your dental chair every day? What if you could hear their thoughts? More or less, these are the things you can get from them.
When they’re uneasy on the chair
“What exactly happens when you drill that thing down in my mouth? Would it rip open the side of my face if things get a little out of control?”
It’s no secret that some dental patients are anxious. What you probably don’t understand too well is that some anxieties can be really irrational. They imagine the worst of things when they go in for treatment. And to be honest, that’s quite embarrassing to admit when you put yourself in their shoes, right?
If you want to keep them in your practice, be sensitive to signs of discomfort and make every effort to reassure them every step of the way. For instance, give them a heads up when you’re putting a new instrument inside their mouth. Let them know what that drill or tool does.
Ask them it’s okay to put their hand up or do a signal if they’re becoming increasingly uncomfortable. In other words, give them a sense of control in the situation to dispel their worries.
When they’re not confident about a treatment
It’s been weeks and in their eyes, they don’t see any results. So, they feel like the treatment is not going well for them. But then, they refuse to talk about this openly with you, precisely because in their head: “What if the dentist blames my bad hygiene? Or for my genetically bad teeth?”
In other instances, when they feel like suggesting trying another option, they back down all the same, since their thoughts go like, “How dare I recommend another treatment? I’m no professional.”
Sadly, these are the types of patients who just disappear without a word. You know what happened, of course: they found a new dentist. If you want to avoid this scenario, communicate well to your patients. Walk them through the treatment, what to expect, when to see results, which options are available, etc.
For instance, when patients are done with their braces, tell them that they need to wear retainers for at least a year to keep their teeth’s alignment. Give them the choice of getting gold-plated retainer wires beyond the traditional ones for better facial appearance.
When they’re impatient in the waiting area
Lots of things happen in your patients’ minds when they wait at your reception area. Some go, “There’s nothing comforting in this room, harsh lights, noisy staff, and cold floors.” Others have, “I don’t need to be constantly reminded of my yellow teeth. I get it, white-teeth model.”
Now, since issues in the waiting room can be very broad, the best way to make improvements is to ask your patients directly about specifics in the form of a survey. Include there feedback on the staff, clinic atmosphere, waiting time, among many others.
From there, make the necessary adjustments. Get your staff’s involvement in coming up with the action steps moving forward, so you can easily get their commitment in the change that’s about to happen.
Since the dental practice is largely dependent on the quality of care, learn to listen intently to your patients’ needs. Ask yourself, what’s on their mind right now?