I Only Want My Teeth Cleaned!
I think that every dentist should put this “wish” somewhere near the top of their “wish list” - “I wish that all my patients will accept and pay for ideal dentistry!”
Wouldn’t that be great? You go to dental school to become a dentist for several reasons, not in any specific order:
How can you help people when they dictate to you what they want? It is time for a reality check. 99.5% of dental patients don’t die as a result of refusing the perfect dental care. OK - there is the concern of certain bacterium that enters the bloodstream from neglected periodontal or other dental needs. But in general, dental treatment is not like “life or death” surgeries that patients undergo to treat medical issues.
Failure to accept Periodontal Therapy
Here is the story:
Mr. Jones calls to make his “New Patient” appointment. It goes like this: “Hello, this is Bob Jones. Are you taking new patients?” Now, we have no idea why patients ask us this because we are ALWAYS taking new patients! “I would like to make an appointment to get my teeth cleaned.” Did you hear him say that he wanted to make an appointment for Scaling and Root Planing? No.
A few days later (and I hope it is a few days opposed to weeks) Mr. Jones is greeted by your wonderful hygienist. She conducts her very thorough periodontal charting and “pre-assesses” that Mr. Jones MAY have Type II periodontal disease, with the understanding that you will make the diagnosis. Your hygienist continues to educate the patient about his potential disease and how it can be treated. “I understand,” Mr. Jones responds, “but I only want my teeth cleaned”.
Now what? Where do you go from here? Does she “clean” his teeth after your confirmed diagnosis, or dismiss him because he didn’t accept the treatment plan? And to make matters worse, he has several areas of decay that will require crowns.
Give the Patient What They Want
Your hygienist Suzie, in her expert manner, expresses her concern with Mr. Jones regarding his request to “clean his teeth.” In an effort to give him what he wants, she acknowledges his wishes with a caveat - “Mr. Jones, I understand your reluctance and I am willing to compromise with you as long as you promise me that you at least acknowledge that you have gum disease, but have elected not to treat it today. Is that a deal? In that case, I will do my best to “clean” the areas of your teeth above the gum that I can reach. With your permission, we will re-visit this when you come back next time, okay?” Mr. Jones is a happy patient. His wife insisted that he get his teeth cleaned… and he did!
And, he also returned for the 3 crowns that he needed. Suzie made a note in his clinical record that Type II periodontal disease was diagnosed, but the patient elected not to continue with SPRs and only wanted his teeth cleaned.
What Happens If You Don’t?
Getting to “Yes”
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