Advice for increasing treatment acceptance

August 27th, 2014


When dentists are still in school, they should have access to dental academic software to practice skills. Additionally, dentists can use help from experienced professionals who have been practicing for a long time and know how to care for patients.

As an example of something that a dentist who has worked for many years would tell a student, the Pride Institute has recently given out six tips for how to boost treatment acceptance, according to Dentistry IQ. The No. 1 point of advice is just to care about the patient. Dentists should be expected, at a certain point in their careers, to honestly and sincerely be concerned about the welfare of the people who trust them to take care of their mouths. Patients, Pride explains, can sense when someone really cares about them as people, and when they feel that from someone, it inspires a confidence that wouldn't exist for a dentist who does things without any consideration for his or her patients.

This is part of what Pride calls the connection that links patient and practitioner. In a good dentist, the connection is strong, but it is weak for people who lack empathy or people skills.

Finally, at some point, the best strategy, rather than a hard sell, is just for a dentist to explain what the health issue is for the patient, along with the dentist's impression of whether the procedure being offered can help the patient or not. Leave the reins in the hand of the person paying for the bills and don't try to manipulate, in other words.

A surprising way to motivate
When you are motivating patients to do something – even if it comes down to brushing their teeth twice a day and flossing – sometimes the best approach is to give a recommendation and then step back, according to the Harvard Business Review. A study found that people who were actively encouraged to do something were less likely to perform the activity or to do it well.

What this means for dentists is that just a brief check to see someone is flossing his or her teeth or get a certain procedure, explaining its importance, may be better than actively encouraging someone to take the next step and do what the dentist says. The relevant point is that people don't react well to encouragement. It may seem surprising, but in a study of people riding bicycles, the people who were not encouraged at all went twice as far as people who were actively cheered with positive words.

Maybe the best way to get someone to do anything, including dental practices, is to explain the pros and cons and then make a note in the dental software that this was explained to the patient. And then, follow up the next time the patient comes in.

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