by Wendy Briggs, RDH
Did you know that 65% of all production completed in the Restorative Department in a dental practice is referred from hygiene? If this is true, I often wonder why so many dentists feel like they could use more help in this area. What tools do you have for aiding you in Case presentation? Are you consistently using them? How involved is the hygiene team in this effort?
The old paradigm for Case Presentation is to educate, educate, educate. Although I do think educating the patient is important, we have to remember to keep things simple. When we use complicated terminology, the patient often ends up being confused. This is the last thing we want! Confused patients are often unable to make a decision about treatment. Do you ever hear, “I want to get it taken care of, but I need to go home and check with my spouse.”
Patients needing to check their schedules, call their insurance, or any other number of excuses, could be confused about recommendations, overwhelmed or both! This leads to frustration. These 3 emotions are usually behind case acceptance failures and we must avoid them at all costs: Confusion, Overwhelm and Frustration.
Our challenge then is to approach Case presentation with the new paradigm. I have several key rules that if followed can help you explode your Case Acceptance.
Rule #1: Simplify! Talk in terms your patients understand. Often it’s not what you say, but how you say it. In Case Acceptance, what THEY SEE is so much more important than what YOU SAY! This is why I love to use my tools! There are several things I can’t live without when talking with patients about opportunity for treatment in their mouths.
- Diagnodent (or as the patients know it, the“Cavity Detecting Laser”) helps patients see things for themselves. They hear the alarm signal, they see the number (I have the patient hold it so they can participate) and they know without me having to say anything that there is a potential problem. Follow this up with another powerful tool, your intra-oral camera. Show them exactly what that reading of 34 looks like and why you are concerned.
- Intra-Oral Camera. Again the value of this tool is that the patient can see for themselves. A cracked tooth in the mouth, and a cracked tooth up on the monitor or television look like two different things. I prefer my patients see it as big as life on the screen. This way, there is urgency without me having to create it for them. It just is, because of how bad they perceive their teeth to be. The images from the camera take away any doubts the patient may have about their mouth.
“Seeing is Believing” is what it’s all about! Comments from the patient prove how powerful the camera is. I can’t tell the patient that their teeth look terrible, but once they see it with the camera, often they are the ones that will say, “It looks terrible!”
Many practices have these amazing tools, but they sit collecting dust. Lack of systems, perception that there “just isn’t enough time” or lack of confidence on the part of the hygiene team often are the cause of us not utilizing these valuable resources. The reality is that my clients have learned that properly using these tools, and presenting opportunities with the right verbal skills actually SAVES time. If you want more success with case acceptance, dust off the Diagnodent, take out that camera and get going!
Rule #2 – Build Value Patients will ﬁnd a way to pay for what they WANT. So we should really focus on helping them want to have their teeth taken care of. Why should they want to have this done? Why would YOU do it? Talk about this with your patients! I often will say, if this was in my mouth, this is what I would do to ﬁx it. They are looking to you for guidance. They value and want your opinion. So, to be more effective when talking with patients about what they need, don’t be afraid to tell them what you would do. We should focus more often on what the direct beneﬁts are. Instead of telling the patient how we place implants, tell them the beneﬁts of having them.
“When we place implants in your mouth, you will be able to chew without pain, almost like natural teeth. There will be nothing to take out and clean, you will be able to brush and ﬂoss these teeth as you did before. By the way, have I told you that implants have porcelain crowns on them that look incredibly like natural teeth?”
Building Value while keeping things simple can revolutionize your acceptance. Avoid your natural tendency to make things too complicated. Focus on the benefits for the patient, and they will be interested in learning more.
You will be amazed at what your patients accept when they understand what you are recommending , and WANT to have it done!
- This tooth had a Diagnodent reading of 44.
- The patient then is shown an Intra-oral photo of their tooth.
- The patient has no doubt that it needs to be done!
- They will accept treatment!
- Mid Procedure photos are also a powerful tool! Use those cameras!