The first step in increasing case acceptance is to think optimum oral health and to talk optimum oral health.
All too often in our practices, we start listening to patient's complaints and we get focused on a single, solitary, individual problem. And while that may be very important to the patient, we have to be mindful that there's a bigger picture going on; a system that involves the temporomandibular joints, the muscles, the teeth, and all the supporting structures.
It is incumbent upon us first and foremost to understand what a healthy environment looks like.
Pristinely healthy tissue where the sulcuses of every tooth can be cleaned by the patient. That means we can only be living with a two to three millimeter pocket. That every tooth is cleansible, that we can clean the restoration. So there's not overhangs or gaps or cracks in teeth where bacteria can get in.
Then when we look at the teeth themselves. We look to make sure there's no wear, there's no loose teeth, there's not teeth that are migrating, there's not sore musculature or temporomandibular joint problems.
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The first thing we have to understand is that if we can visualize what an optimum healthy situation looks like, then we can start developing the communication skills to be able to communicate with the patient in a way that they can start to understand it. And so with this optimum health look in our mind's eye, we can then start to communicate with patients by showing them first what health is, and then showing maybe another part of their mouth that departs from health.
We'll talk about each one of these things in our future quick tip sessions in some detail, but a great way to start thinking about this is just thinking about a perio pocket. If you can find some part of a patient's mouth that has a perfectly probeable healthy tissue that's tight against the teeth with no recession, and show them what that looks like - with just a mirror or maybe a photograph - and then contrast that to a part of their mouth that's diseased, patients now have a context of how they depart from health and it's very logical for them to want to fix it.
The first thing I would tell you to do, as you start on this quest of increasing case acceptance, is to understand that you are the keeper of the standard in your practice.
You have to be the one to say, "We're going to hold patient's health to the highest possible standard." That means that we've got to study and really understand what optimum health is from a periodontal standpoint, a restorative standpoint, an occlusion standpoint, a temporomandibular joint standpoint, and maybe even an aesthetic standpoint.
If you start holding that standard and communicating with patients what that standard is, you're going to find more and more patients drawn to a solution that will provide them with optimum care.