Patient Relationships, Building Trust
Patients come to our offices looking for answers to their dental problems. They trust that their dentist can offer a solution for their specific issue and explain that solution in an understandable manner. Unfortunately, this does not always happen according to plan.
In spite of great efforts on behalf of the dentist, patients can leave an appointment more confused than when they arrived. Specifically, when explaining dental implant procedures from start to finish, dentists are not always the best communicators in spite of their greatest efforts.
This is where hygienists and assistants can offer wonderful and comforting clarifications to puzzled patients.
How many times does the dentist leave the room thinking that they have completely explained the plan when in actuality, the patient is more confused that when they arrived. Or how many times does the patient say “Now what exactly did he say?” or “I’m not clear about what she is going to do.”
When the doctor is talking, patients may act like they understand what is said, but many times they don’t want to admit that they are confused or even bewildered. Instead, they nod in agreement and act like they completely understand the treatment plan so that they don’t seem ignorant. This is where many misunderstandings begin.
Auxillary staff members are often seen as experts by patients needing a friend to talk to. Many times assistants or hygienists can clarify confusing dialogue and even salvage failed treatment presentations. By playing the role of the expert confidant, staff members can be a true friend to patients in need of a caring conversation.
It is extremely important for dental professionals to remember that we are educating people who are not familiar to the world of dentistry, much less the world of dental implants. These people can be extremely intelligent individuals, but quite often, they don’t comprehend the extremely technical and complex process of implants.
They may understand the concept of implants in general, but it is highly unusual for a lay person to be well versed in implant terminology or procedures. Keep in mind, they only understand that they are missing a tooth and that an implant is the best option to replace it. Past that, they probably have no concept of implant surgery, osseointegration, restoration options, or required appointments.
We can’t expect average people to comprehend terms such as “abutment,” “All-on-4” or “screw-retained.” These technical words only lead to confusions and misunderstandings. It is important for dental professionals to use layman terms to the best of their abilities when explaining treatment plans and options.
By taking just a few minutes to listen to a patient and their concerns, staff members can add an incredible value to the overall patient experience. In addition, imaging the offer a unique education to someone.