Every Patient Has a Next Step

Like true love, the course of a dental patient’s journey may not always run smoothly.

Many patients often face significant barriers to treatment. These obstacles can include anything from dental anxiety to an inability to pay the costs involved — and working with patients to overcome them is the key to making sure they get the help they need.

Now, empathy and curiosity are both essential qualities here. No patient is going to trust your practice unless your team can make them feel heard and understood. If a patient is reluctant to move forward with a treatment plan, gently ask them to talk about their concerns so that you can get a clearer sense of what’s going on.

But you also need to realize that even armed with a bedside manner that Hippocrates himself might envy, you may not be able to get a patient to go from 0-60 on your timeline. Rather than seeking to close the deal right away, you’ll often do better to focus on encouraging a reluctant patient to simply take one step forward — even if it’s only a small one. 

With some, that step might involve learning more about a specific treatment option. For others, it might mean working with you to come up with a plan that spreads their treatment out over a longer period of time — which might be more financially (or emotionally) manageable. 

And if a patient is considering especially intense, expensive work like implants, you might simply want to prioritize building your relationship to the point where the patient will feel comfortable circling back to you after they’ve had some time to think about things.

Like anything else that involves caring for other people, this is as much of an art as a science. But it’s useful to remember that your overall goal here is simply problem-solving: helping a patient to improve their dental health and well-being.

And like so much else in life, that often happens one step at a time.

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