Connecting with Overwhelmed Dental Patients

How do you connect with overwhelmed dental patients?  It’s not easy.  And since there is a better than average chance you will not guide overwhelmed patients to schedule for treatment, the most effective steps you can take are to prevent the situation altogether.

The most common reasons why patients feel overwhelmed include the following: they do not understand the treatment plan, they do not see the value of treatment in comparison to the cost, and they do not have buy-in for proposed next steps.  How can you address those issues?


First, consider the profile of dental patients most likely to feel overwhelmed: new patients, existing patients who experience a change in dental health (for example, they develop gum disease), and patients needing comprehensive care.

Next, think about how you communicate with those patients.  You quickly lose people with dental terminology.  In its place, use understandable terms that also build value such as cavity, discomfort, disease, and infection.  Integrate intra-oral photos and easy-to-follow visual aids into your treatment presentation.  And keep options as concise as possible.

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Finally, remember you do not build connections with patients if they feel like they are being rushed during each visit to your practice.  Sometimes patients need extra time to absorb treatment options, which is why consults are often invaluable.  Patients feel more connected to the practice when they can rely on each member of the dental team to convey an understandable and cohesive message about their treatment options.  Also, patients appreciate having a voice in what happens next.

By taking the appropriate steps with your patients, you can greatly minimize the times when they feel overwhelmed.  The more you can keep patients in step with what is best for their dental health, the more likely they are to follow the direction you are recommending.

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