Keep your confident, comfortable patients!

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  Posted by: Dental Design      8th July 2019

Good relationships with your patients are essential. When a patient visits your practice, they need to feel at ease. You want them to trust you enough to open up about something that is bothering them, or to say if they are feeling anxious, so you can do what you can to help. Acceptance and compliance to a treatment plan also depends on a positive patient/practitioner relationship. To stick to a plan and ensure its success, the patient must have fully understood what is required of them – improving their brushing technique, for example – which will depend on them asking as many questions as they need. No-one should leave the practice in a state of confusion, because they felt embarrassed about having to check, and re-check what their diagnosis meant.

Changing times

Who is responsible for growing and nurturing good relationships with patients? The answer is everyone! The dental team looks very different from how it did only a couple of decades ago, as it has evolved to respond to changing needs and high patient expectations. With dental nurses, dental hygienists and dental therapists able to deliver preventive care and oral health education, some dentists are choosing to focus on more advanced or specialist procedures.

While we are seeing more skill mix in practices, all your patients might not be caught up. A patient who expects to see the dentist, but who is then told that the dental therapist will be performing the appointment, might not know why and feel upset. This is where good relationships come in. Patients need to understand how the dental therapist is the best person for that particular job, and this will encourage their continued confidence in your service, knowing that they are getting the very highest standard of personalised care.

Communicate, stay connected

How to improve relationships? Well, a lot depends on positive communication. Every member of the team should be friendly, professional and informed, so that everyone who calls, or walks into the practice, feels that no question is too trivial and no problem is too small. Speaking in a language that your patients understand is important too, which is not to patronise, but to explain clearly what the issue is, and the proposed solution, while staying away from medical jargon and avoiding words that could increase their anxiety. If you are a practice that looks after patients from all generations, you will need to ensure your oldest and youngest patients have all the support they need when it comes to understanding their role in maintaining their own oral health. Being able to demonstrate empathy with a nervous patient, even after a long and tiring day, will show them your full commitment to their care and that you want them to continue attending!

The ability to communicate with confidence is not natural to everyone and sometimes it has to be developed. Every practice manager and /or principal should make sure the team is always up-to-date on developments in the dental area, as far as is possible, so that no one is caught off guard with a tricky question. Have you ever had a patient who shows you a photo of a white celebrity smile and says “I want that!”? Being able to discuss the limits of treatment in a friendly, positive way means they will understand what is possible (and what isn’t) and the implications of treatment.

Make time for regular team meetings, to share patient experiences, positive or negative, so that everyone can else can learn from them. It’s a simple equation – if you know what you are talking about, you listen to what people are saying and don’t simply tell them what to do, you’ll inspire confidence.

Looking the part

Looking the part is no less important too. Everyone in the dental team should look polished and appropriate. Update your uniforms if you need to – a well-dressed team who is comfortable and modern sends an important visual signal to patients that this is a good practice with integrity. Looking good can improve patient relationships – when you look professional, you gain people’s trust and a professional-looking practice is simply another reflection of the high-quality service you deliver. If your uniforms need a refresh, Diamond Designs is a company that designs and distributes stunning medical uniforms and scrubs in various styles and colourways, so you will always look confident at work. The styles can be easily rotated and with fast delivery, the team will always have something great to wear.

Patient/practitioner relationships are key to everything that happens in the dental practice, so do everything you can to keep them strong. Alongside high-quality, stable treatment, how you behave and look at work are so important for patients to feel safe, comfortable and confident in your care.


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