Dr Mark HassedOver the past several years I've been fortunate to go into practices and observe dentists working with patients. In that time I've seen a number of common errors with communication that kill case acceptance. Over the next few months I'll be presenting those errors and giving you the solutions.

I hope that you enjoy this series.

3. Drawing diagrams

Most of the same comments I made concerning x-rays in last week's article could also be said of drawing diagrams.

Many dentists love to draw pictures of teeth (especially root canals) in an attempt to explain to patients what they are going to do. From a patient’s point of view it’s scary, unnecessary and confusing. Without extensive training, patients are incapable of understanding cross-sectional diagrams of teeth. Even if they were interested, which the vast majority are not, it would take several hours of “education” to get patients to the point where they truly appreciated what the diagram was showing.

Ask yourself a few simple questions. If you were about to have plastic surgery would it be helpful to you to see where the surgeon was going to make the incision? If you had appendicitis do you need to know about the technique the surgeon will use to reseal the bowel? If you are having your car repaired do you need to know all about the inner workings of its gear box? Of course not, and dental patients don’t need to know where the reamer goes.

Why do dentists draw diagrams? One thing I’ve noted is that they only seem to do it for expensive treatments such as implants and endodontics. Probably they are attempting to justify the fee by making the treatment seem complex and difficult. If you feel that you need to justify a substantial fee there is an easier way. Simply say: “This is a very complex treatment that will take 3 appointments.”

Forget the diagrams.

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