How should dentists treat their patients? Part One

January 23, 2023

Dentists – remember you are not your dental patient.

One of the easiest traps to fall into is to think that patients want what the doctor or hygienist want and like what they like.  This mistake is easy to make when there is a poor understanding of who the patient is and what they value.

A recent practice scratch start was not going well. The doctor became quite exasperated because he could not understand why his patients didn’t schedule for the dentistry he was diagnosing.

The question was, “What makes the doctor think they want the help that he wants to give them?”  The doctor answered . . . “but they need my services.”  The real issue was . . . but do they want them?

The doctor’s point of view is not necessarily how the patient views their situation.   Avoid telling people what they need and instead become a practitioner who under-stands the patient’s wants and then fulfills them.  This is called “lifestyle dentistry.”  It is important to remember that patients are not just saying “yes” to treatment plans but they are also saying “yes” to everything along the way:  the process by which the patient is engaged – the smells in the reception room, how it is decorated, is the parking lot weed free and lighted?  Is the experience congruent with the image the practice portrays?  The patient is as important as the treatment plan.  This means the patient’s experience becomes as important as the clinical skills of the doctor.