When dentists and teams go to great lengths to explain treatment, and then patients fail to schedule, it can leave everyone wondering what else is needed. The answer is that most practices can do better with less: less meaning less time spent explaining treatment with words that fail to build value. If you want to make your treatment presentations more effective, toss out the clinical terminology in favor of three important phrases.
First, when patients have a cavity, make sure they understand they have a cavity. Saying decay is not the same as using the term cavity. When patients understand they have a cavity, they are motivated to do something about it, and that is why emphasizing the word cavity will boost treatment acceptance.
Secondly, when a tooth looks suspect for future treatment, do not tell patients you are watching the tooth. Watching implies passivity—think about how little energy it takes to watch something—and patients quickly forget the tooth in question was ever mentioned. In place of a watch, let patients know you are going to reevaluate the tooth at their next visit. Patients will remember that a tooth needs reevaluation because this implies the potential need for future treatment.
Finally, when patients have gum disease, do not tell them they have perio or that they require a special type of cleaning. This type of terminology confuses patients and undermines treatment recommendations. Instead, let patients know they have gum disease. Too many patients walk out the door failing to understand they have gum disease because clinical teams tip toe around using those words. If you expect patients to pay for a service that is considerably more money and time consuming than a regular cleaning, you need to build value for the service. Patients are motivated to address gum disease.
You can greatly improve treatment acceptance by using far fewer clinical terms in favor of words that build value and motivate patients to schedule.