Why patients say no – Cheryl Hayes Carestream Dental

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  Posted by: Dental Design      19th October 2019

Formulating a treatment plan that provides your patient with the most effective, convenient and accessible care for them is important. But why do some patients still say no?

Treatment acceptance is a necessary step towards helping patients receive the care they require, but they don’t always understand this. As such, it’s a good idea to explore why some patients may be resilient to your advice and make changes so that they are more likely to accept first time.

A feeling of trust

It is thought that roughly 85% of case acceptance comes from patients trusting their dentist and their ability to relate to them, as opposed to the 15% inspired by technical proficiency.[i]As such, it’s clear to see that building trust is imperative if you want your patients to accept your treatment plans.

A good way to do this is to ensure that you take an active interest in your patients’ lives. Do you chat with them during their appointments? Do you know what they do for work or whether they have any exciting plans coming up? Just communicating with patients on this level quickly helps to build a bond of trust. It’s also a good idea to explore their feelings regarding their oral health. Do they have any questions? Are there any improvements they want to make to their smiles? Make the time to talk and you will quickly see that trust, in most cases, is easily gained.

Education and misinformation 

Another reason that patients may be apprehensive about agreeing to treatment plans is because of their knowledge surrounding dentistry and whatever treatment you suggest. These people fall into two camps – the underinformed and the misinformed.

Some people may not be able to grasp why a particular treatment is beneficial for them, and in turn will reject your proposal as they believe they will be fine without it. To tackle this stance, you need to make sure that you are giving your patients as much information as possible about the treatment, as well as taking the time to state not only how it will help improve their lifestyle (in terms of aesthetics, function etc.) but also the risks they take by rejecting treatment, such as the eventual need for a dental implant, for example.

On the other hand, those who are misinformed have likely gathered information about their oral health online or have set ideas about the treatment they want supported by their own opinions. There is a lot of bad information out there, and it can be difficult to make the correct treatment seem like the best option. For example, if a patient is set on getting veneers, they may be resilient to simply straightening and bleaching their dentition, even if this is a more suitable and conservative option. In these cases, you need to do your best to banish any misinformation while alerting these individuals to the real benefits your treatment plan can bring.

Break down those barriers

Another huge barrier to treatment acceptance is that people may simply not understand your treatment plans. It’s easy to forget that your usual patient may not comprehend some of the more technical terms in dentistry, but this can be a huge discouragement if they feel like you’ve been too technical and therefore can’t understand what treatment will involve. No one likes to feel stupid.

Language or communication barriers may also exist if your patient speaks English as a second language or has learning difficulties or any other impediment. Therefore, one of the best ways to ensure that patients do understand your plans is to present the information in a different way.

Visual information is easier to understand for a lot of people, and it can help to bypass language barriers and remove the confusion that technical jargon can create. The CS R4+ practice management software from Carestream Dental is a particularly good choice if you’re looking to boost treatment acceptance. This software has special Communicator Patient Software which is preloaded with over 200 treatment topics. This software walks patients through the proposed treatment in simple terms, accompanied by easy-to-follow animations and pictures to ensure they fully understand what will happen if they accept.

Change no to yes

When it comes to boosting treatment acceptance it really comes down to exploring why a patient may say no in the first place. By building trust, giving them the correct information and ensuring they understand the next steps, you’re likely to see that more patients agree with your proposed plans.


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[i]Dentistry IQ. Communicating Trust – The Key To Dental Case Acceptance. Link: https://www.dentistryiq.com/practice-management/patient-relationships/article/16350433/communicating-trust-the-key-to-dental-case-acceptance[Last accessed June 19].

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