Six patients to avoid (part3).

Dr Mark HassedAs I mentioned over the past two weeks, when you're a young dentist starting out you are desperate to be successful. You take on any and every patient who comes along.

Children — no problems. Dentures — bring 'em on. Phobic people — step right up!

But, when you gain a few years of experience you realise that some people cost you a lot of stomach lining. In fact, there are some people you'd be wise to avoid.

Here are the final two of my list of six dental patients to avoid.

Patients who move constantly and won't keep their mouth open.

If you're like me you take pride in your work — you like to do a nice job.

But, certain patients make that absolutely impossible.

Within a second or two of starting work they act like they're drowning and start flailing around. Or, they want to rinse every 5 seconds even though there is nothing in their mouth. Or, even though the tooth is totally numb they suddenly and without any warning pull their head away. Or they close their mouth constantly so that you become like a broken record saying: “Open your mouth…”, over and over and over. Or they move their head side to side and up and down constantly for no apparent reason. Or their tongue puffs up like a tennis ball the moment they open their mouth.

A simple filling becomes an epic event at the end of which you are like a rung-out dish mop and running 20 minutes late.

Life is too short.

Patients who fail multiple appointments.

Practice overheads are typically more than 50% of gross revenue. That means that if a patient turns up for every second appointment and fails the other one you're doing their work for no profit.

I was once in a practice where a patient had failed 14 appointment over the course of 2 years yet they continued to give them more appointments. 14 appointments equated to over $5,000 of lost revenue. They would have been far better off to give the patient a cheque for $1,000 as a reward for going elsewhere.

Some people are chronically unreliable. They think nothing of not turning up.

And, remember the old expression: “A leopard can't change its spots.” The only way to convert an unreliable person into a reliable one is to demand a deposit on all appointments.

But, most unreliable people will refuse to pay a deposit. I once had a lady plead with me not to charge her a deposit when the had failed her two previous appointments. She said those appointments were just aberrations and she would definitely turn up next time. Foolishly I relented.

Guess what. She failed once again.


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The Art of Case Acceptance

Learn how to explain proposed treatment to patients in a way that is quick, easy, successful and low stress.

Perth 2 December

The Art of Efficient Dentistry

Learn how to get more done in less time with less stress and consistent high quality. Create the high-performance team.

Dates to be advised.


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Six patients to avoid (part2).

Dr Mark HassedAs I mentioned last week, when you're a young dentist starting out you are desperate to be successful. You take on any and every patient who comes along.

Children — no problems. Dentures — bring 'em on. Phobic people — step right up!

But, when you gain a few years of experience you realise that some people cost you a lot of stomach lining. In fact, there are some people you'd be wise to avoid.

Here are the next two of my list of six dental patients to avoid.

Patients who hold the mirror very close to their mouth when pointing out aesthetic problems.

Patients who are aware of tiny problems are almost impossible to satisfy. The closer they hold the mirror, the more they should be avoided.

I once had a lady who was convinced that the lengths of her two front teeth was unequal but I could not see it. I even got a ruler out and held it across the edges of her front teeth — it was perfectly straight as far as I could tell, and the nurse too. The woman didn't agree.

Taking on such a patient is a recipe for disaster. Suddenly you are on your third remake and losing the plot.

Only take on people with big, obvious cosmetic problems that you can easily see from conversational distance. Anything that you cannot see at a glance will be too much trouble.

Patients who, the moment you start to put the chair back, say “don’t lie me back too far”.

Nothing gets your back and neck sore quicker than working at a strange angle where you struggle to see.

Some patients don't even get to 45 degrees before that start complaining. Yet, the vast majority of them can lie flat in bed at night to sleep.

I'm sympathetic to the rare few patients who have a peculiar medical condition that prevents them lying flat but for the rest I think they need to get over it.

Spending an hour at a strange angle may well mean a trip to the physiotherapist for you as well as compromising the quality of work.


Upcoming Seminars

The Art of Case Acceptance

Learn how to explain proposed treatment to patients in a way that is quick, easy, successful and low stress.

Perth 2 December

[button link=”https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/the-art-of-case-acceptance-perth-registration-36463987769″ newwindow=”yes”] Perth 2 December[/button]

The Art of Efficient Dentistry

Learn how to get more done in less time with less stress and consistent high quality. Create the high-performance team.

Dates to be advised.


therelaxeddentist.com | Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn

Six patients to avoid (part1).

Dr Mark HassedWhen you're a young dentist starting out you are desperate to be successful. You take on any and every patient who comes along.

Children — no problems. Dentures — bring 'em on. Phobic people — step right up!

But, when you gain a few years of experience you realise that some people cost you a lot of stomach lining. In fact, there are some people you'd be wise to avoid.

Here are the first two of my list of six dental patients to avoid.

Patients who say: “Just patch it for now and I'll get it fixed properly later.”

My experience with such people is that “later” never comes.

Once you accept a patient under these terms you'll find yourself doing endless rounds of patchwork and desperate compromise treatment. And, when that treatment fails, they won't remember that you were doing it as a compromise. They'll expect you to repair it for free because it was “only done 12 months ago”.

It's dispiriting to wrack your brains figuring out how to glue something together when you know it's just a short term compromise like painting over rust on a car.

It's high stress spending sixty minutes piecing something together when it's a dodgy job that might break the first time they bite on it.

In my entire dental career I've never found a “patch it up” patient who became a good regular patient. They use you when they need you and fail appointments when it suits them.

If doing difficult dentistry for minimum fee interests you then feel free but for me this was a game I preferred not to play.

Patients who blame multiple dentists for the disastrous state of their teeth.

Some patients come in looking like they swallowed a hand grenade — multiple missing teeth, rampant decay, abrasion, attrition, erosion and advanced periodontal disease.

The ones who worry me are those who tell you how it's not their fault. It was all caused by various incompetent dentists they've seen.

The first thing about such patients that concerns me is that they only have a tenuous grip on reality. The fact that their mouth is in such a state yet they think it's not their fault shows that they will never take responsibility for their health. They will continue to make poor choices all the while blaming other people for the outcome.

The second thing is that you will become the next on their list of incompetent dentists even if you are blameless.

The third thing is that they never accept your advice. You work out a plan for how to fix things but they will not accept it. Instead they continue with the same mistakes that got them there.

If you find that amusing more power to you but for me it was always very annoying.


Upcoming Seminars

The Art of Case Acceptance

Learn how to explain proposed treatment to patients in a way that is quick, easy, successful and low stress.

Perth 2 December

[button link=”https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/the-art-of-case-acceptance-perth-registration-36463987769″ newwindow=”yes”] Perth 2 December[/button]

The Art of Efficient Dentistry

Learn how to get more done in less time with less stress and consistent high quality. Create the high-performance team.

Dates to be advised.


therelaxeddentist.com | Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn

Don’t be mean

Dr Mark HassedI travel a lot and go into many airport lounges.

My favourite airline has lounges that are 5-star — the best of everything. A lesser airline (I won't mention the name) has lounges that are like a budget 3-star motel — quite mean.

Of course, whenever possible, I always fly the airline with the 5-star lounges.

In dental practice there are things you can do that patients perceive as mean and that might drive them to your competitors. Let me give you a few examples.

  • When a patient needs a special tooth brush do you give it to them for free or do you add it to the bill?
  • When a patient pays with credit card do you add a surcharge?
  • Do you have tatty old magazines in your reception room?
  • Do you make patients wait without offering them a cold drink or a coffee?

If you want to inspire patient loyalty you need to be perceived as generous. If necessary increase your fees very slightly and then treat patients well. Treat them with grace and generosity.

There is no doubt that acting in this way will inspire patient loyalty.

Do you have enough patients?

Dr Mark HassedMany practices today have more free time than they would like. There are the dreaded “gaps in the appointment book”.

As a result many dentists are throwing big money at SEO, Facebook and various internet marketing and advertising.

The problem is that everyone is doing it — it's very hard to stand out in such a crowded area.

Here's an alternative for you to consider.

Have you formed a good solid bond with the GPs in your area?

GPs regularly see patients with dental problems and don't know what to do with them.

If you let it be known that you would always see them same day then you could have a regular and grateful source of new patients.

And, if I ran a city practice, I'd also form a bond with the concierges at the big hotels. Guests regularly have dental needs and the concierges get asked for recommendations.

This form of marketing might cost you a bottle of champagne once a year but it can return handsome dividends.

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