So one of the questions that I've asked myself, is are my patients understanding what I'm saying when they don't get to see what I see? And I feel like this is something that we all fall into: we love to talk and try to educate, but the patient's not having the same visual as we do. So how do we overcome that?
Show them their problems so they can own them
First thing is to talk to them in their hygiene appointment, and make sure you get them to agree to come back in for an hour visit to give them a complete examination. At that appointment, we will go through all the examination and then take photos and other records. The four photos that I like to take are:
- Smile shot
- Upper occlusal shot
- Lower occlusal shots
- Retracted, apart shot
These four photos really give us a good overview of what's going on in the mouth and then when you bring that up on the TV or a screen for them to view as well, it's amazing how many times my patients say, "Are those my teeth? That's really what my teeth look like?" And I'm like, "Yeah." And then you can see the light bulb go off.
The time spent in this complete examination and then using these four photos can be critical.
The pros and cons of an intra-oral camera
I also use an intra-oral camera in their hygiene appointments for diagnosing single-tooth issues. The problem with the intra-oral camera is you are only capturing one tooth at a time. It's kind of like trying to see the forest when all you're doing is taking pictures of individual trees.
So keep that in mind when utilizing the intra-oral camera.
Adequate time to examine yields more accurate results
And so when I started to implement a one-hour visit and then implementing these four photos into my examination process and spending adequate time with them, educating them, helping them understand that I'm concerned about a few things of what I am seeing. And when they get to see it as well, the case acceptance has risen and they are much more open to the treatment and to the dentistry that's going to help them have long-term success.
I hope this helps you in achieving overall great oral health for your patients.
To learn more about patient communication and case acceptance, register for the online program with Dr. Paul Homoly, Making it Easy for Patients to Say Yes.