It’s an understatement to say that all dental professionals need to have excellent communication skills.  We need to communicate effectively with our dental team members, labs, supply reps and especially our patients.  The goal of communication in dentistry is simple:  to empower our patients with the knowledge necessary to make an informed decision about their oral health.   Before you jump into talking to your patient about not flossing or how they’re brushing way too hard, here are some acceptable subjects for communication in dentistry to break the ice:

  • The weather
  • The patient.  People always love to talk about themselves.
  • Pets.  Does your patient have any pets?  Do you have pets?  Talk about them!  Animals make everyone happy.
  • Recent news

Sometimes just an honest smile and a joke can make all the difference in the world.  Friendly banter and some humor can dispel the patient’s stress.  Making a dental patient feel comfortable in your practice is one of the easiest ways to keep them coming back.

Communication in Dentistry:  Chairside

One of the most important elements to building a successful dental business is your chairside communication with your patients. Try these quick steps to effective chairside communication in dentistry:

  • Explain to your patients their dental problems precisely and in terms they will understand
  • Inform patients of your treatment recommendations
  • Let them know the potential consequences if treatment is delayed or ignored

Avoid these 10 mistakes from The Curious Dentist when presenting a treatment plan.

You’ll find that a compassionate approach will keep your dental patients engaged.  If you can’t communicate well with your patients and your team, you can’t win.  Communication in dentistry requires patience, humility, effort and is a process for continual improvement.

One of the biggest downfalls to a successful dental practice is the patient’s fear of treatment.  Patients can skip cleanings and put off treatments because they feel apprehensive.  You can prevent fear of dental treatment in the first place by simply talking to your patient.  Communicating—you guessed it—effectively.  If your patient needs a “scary” treatment like a root canal, break it to them gently.  Explain in detail why the treatment is necessary, allow the patient to ask questions and thoroughly describe how the procedure works.  When patients are aware of what to expect, they feel more confident in you and about their treatments.

It can be easy to get in the bad habit of herding patients through your doors like cattle to the point where patients start feeling like that.  Remember who they are—people!  No one wants to feel like “just another patient” in the lineup of your busy schedule.  Connect with them.  Communicate—really communicate—with your patients.  Take quick notes after your appointment about your conversation and follow up with your patients next time they are in.  Ask them how their family vacation was, how things are going at their new job and how their son’s big game went.

Communicating effectively and actually remembering details about your dental patients will make them feel special.  And guess what?  That feeling and connection creates a feeling of loyalty.  Patients who leave feeling special and connected to you and your practice are more likely to refer their family and friends.

There you have it.  Improving communication in dentistry with these simple tips can potentially bring more patients into your practice!  Happy communicating!

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