Twinkle, twinkle

Feb. 1, 2004
In our age of advanced technology, we are blessed to have an array of equipment that can help patients understand their dental needs.

Louis Malcmacher, DDS

In our age of advanced technology, we are blessed to have an array of equipment that can help patients understand their dental needs. Intraoral cameras, video education systems, and digital X-rays are just some of the options that every dental office has today to help communicate with their patients. All of these and more can be important assets to any dental practice depending on how you use them. The common assumption, of course, is that once you buy one of these pieces of equipment, you will actually use it. I cannot tell you how many dentists I have encountered over my years of lecturing and consulting who have told me that they bought, for example, an intraoral camera, given it to the hygienist, and it just sits collecting dust in the corner of the room. Certainly, it goes without saying that if you are going to invest in this type of equipment, you need to take the steps to thoroughly train yourself and your staff to use it on a regular basis.

I've also found many dentists who have bought a video education system and believe that just by virtue of watching the video, the patient will go ahead and accept treatment. While educating patients is very important, we all have the daily experience where people are educated as to what their dental needs are, but they still do not go ahead with treatment. Education by itself has never been a guarantee that people will do what is necessary or best for their dental or general health. Watch any cigarette smoker who opens the cigarette pack with a clear warning that they can cause cancer, and you certainly find the perfect example that education by itself is not the answer to getting people to do what is best for them. You see, if you buy an intraoral camera or DVD educational system and you are a poor communicator, then you are just a poor communicator with an intraoral camera or video educational system.

We are always ready to make a big commitment of time and money to invest in something that we believe will take our dental practices to the next level. How many times have you seen advertisements for something new that "guarantees" to change your practice forever? While new techniques, equipment, and materials can help you offer better and new services to patients, rarely have we seen any one thing raise your practice to higher production and profit and "change the way you practice forever." But I have found something that will.

I am ready to offer you some advice that will take your practice to greater heights than you have ever imagined. Take the time and invest the money in yourself and your staff to gain knowledge in good communication and interpersonal skills. Once patients are educated about their dental needs, what they really need next is motivation to go ahead with treatment. Nothing is more motivating to patients than the excitement in your voice and the twinkle in your eye when you present the treatment plan. The empathy that you exude towards the patient is much more valuable than any piece of equipment you could buy. The caring and concern that your staff has for your patients will motivate more people to treatment than spending $200,000 on the latest technology in dentistry.

The passion you have for dentistry speaks volumes to patients. If your passion is fueled by having an intraoral camera, then that combination is perfect in helping to elevate your level of practice. If introducing a new procedure, such as one-hour whitening, it can create excitement among the entire dental team, and your patients will be very motivated to go ahead with treatment. But, if you think that just hanging up a sign telling patients you now have a digital X-ray unit will do anything for your practice, you are mistaken.

The key to successfully motivating patients to treatment is not found in any dental supply catalogue. New technology can help you reach your goals, but will not raise your dental practice by itself. Patients take verbal and non-verbal cues from you and your dental team, which they cannot get from watching any video. The key to excitement, passion, and fun in your dental practice is found the next time you look in the mirror.

Dr. Louis Malcmacher is an international lecturer and author known for hiscomprehensive and entertaining style.An evaluator for Clinical Research Associates, Dr. Malcmacher is a consultant to the Council on Dental Practice of the ADA. For close to two decades, Dr. Malcmacher has inspired his audiences to truly enjoy practicing dentistry by providing the knowledge necessary for excellent clinical and practice-management skills. His group dental practice has maintained a 45 percent overhead since 1988.For details about his speaking schedule, Dr. Malcmacher can be reached at (440) 892-1810 or via email at [email protected].

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