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It's bill-paying season!

April 1, 2003
Welcome to our favorite time of the year — tax time! This month, we focus on numbers and complete those easy tax forms. The stress runs high as people meet with accountants.

Annette Ashley Linder, BS, RDH

Welcome to our favorite time of the year — tax time! This month, we focus on numbers and complete those easy tax forms. The stress runs high as people meet with accountants, put final touches to documentation, and consign themselves to coughing up the extra dough for their tax bill.

While there isn't too much we can do about taxes, attention to documentation is something we can control. Specifically, let's look at the recall statement and ask whether the information presented to patients at the completion of their hygiene appointments satisfies their need for a full and accurate accounting?

The typical hygiene-recall statement reads, "Prophy, exam, bitewings." That's about as exciting as burger, fries, and a Coke! Many patients think of the recall appointment as "just a cleaning." They actually complain to the front-desk person about "$125 just to have my teeth cleaned!"

Rather than compounding this misconception, we could use the recall statement to communicate in a positive manner with our patients. For example, the Periodic Exam ( Code # 0120) includes a complete medical history, blood- pressure check, and oral-cancer screening. Be sure to indicate Code No. 1330, Oral Hygiene Home-Care Instructions for Bacterial-Plaque Control.

You should also provide a detailed list of the free products you give to your recall patients, such as toothbrushes, floss, etc. The old "I just got my teeth cleaned" gets a facelift when patients are given the opportunity to see and read about the full extent of the appointment.

Clients and dental teams throughout the country report that patients who receive this type of statement do not stand at the desk and say, "I only want what insurance is going to pay for." Enhancing patient perception increases compliance levels and reduces cancellations and appointment-failure rates.

Below is a sample of a Truth-in-Treatment Statement to help change your patients' mindset about recall.

Click here to enlarge image

Annette Ashley Linder, BS, RDH, is a recognized leader in the field and an award-winning speaker and consultant. Since 1989, she has presented more than 250 seminars and consulted in dental practices throughout the world. She is a featured speaker at dental meetings and provides in--office consulting services with her team of business and clinical consultants. She may be reached at her Web site at, via email at [email protected], or by phone at (804) 745-6015.

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