Communication Can Help Dental Patients to Participate with Needed Restorations
In the past, patients often followed their dentists’ advice and opinions about their dental care and treatment and followed that advice without question. The attitude was primarily that “doctors know best.” In the past few decades, this attitude has changed dramatically, with patients researching and looking to get second opinions about absolutely everything medical-including dental care. Dentists and other oral care technicians have new challenges to face in order to be successful in the face of this new approach.
Communication can make all the difference when it comes to getting patients to buy into the care that will be best for them in their particular situation. It is not enough for dentists and oral surgeons to be proficient in their field; they also need to be proficient at communicating the “whys,” as patients wish to be well informed.
Explain How Dental Treatment will be Beneficial
Dental treatment that is preventative may have benefits that the patient doesn’t understand. Correcting problems that the patient has dealt with their entire life (such as placing implants in places where teeth have been missing for years) may also have benefits that are not immediately obvious to the patient. Dentists and oral surgeons can help patients to understand the benefits of undergoing these treatments by putting themselves in the patient’s shoes and offering simple but professional explanations.
Examine the Cost Perspective
Patients are often skeptical about having treatment performed that they don’t deem essential because of the cost. Taking the time to break down the costs of dental restoration versus the possible financial costs of not having the restoration done can show the patient the realistic benefits. Explain the non-financial benefits as well, such as being able to enjoy food favorites that may be difficult to eat with missing or damaged teeth. Patients are more likely to agree to treatment when they have concrete examples of how the treatment will be beneficial.
Show Interest in the Patient’s Concerns
Patients are much more likely to agree to a treatment plan that is recommended if they consider their dentist a trusted advisor. To garner trust, dentists should ask patients questions about their life and dental issues, really showing an interest. Reading their medical history and addressing specific issues that could be corrected with restorations may make them feel more inclined to opt for recommended treatments.
Dentists should also be prepared for common questions that the patient may ask and should make an effort to find answers for questions that the patient has that they do not immediately know the answer to.