Talk with and listen to your patients! You never know where the conversation will lead.

A short story for today’s blog:

Today a patient came in for his recall visit. He’s relatively new to the practice… maybe a year. Super-nice guy – 27 years old. We did some routine restorative treatment for him.

He has a history of orthodontic treatment as a kid… and left with a significant anterior open bite. He and his parents were told that was as good as it could be.

In occlusion!

Today, the patient asked me about bleaching his teeth.  He’s got a lot of decalcifications typical with ortho patients whose hygiene wasn’t so great with the appliances on.  That led to questions about porcelain veneers.  I said, we could certainly explore those options, but “gosh it would be so much better if we could get things straightened out first.”

I asked him if surgery to correct his bite had ever been discussed.  He could not recall that option being offered. When I mentioned that may be an option, his face lit up.  He said, “This has bothered me my whole life.  I can’t eat a sandwich.  I want to eat a sandwich!”

There’s a local oral surgeon who is well-regarded for his expertise in orthognathic surgery.

I asked the patient if I could snap a few photos and forward them to the surgeon.  He enthusiastically agreed.

By the afternoon, I had forwarded the photos and spoken with the surgeon, who said he could absolutely help.  I called the patient back.  He told me he was so excited about the mere possibility, he had already talked to his dad about it.  I gave him the surgeon’s contact information, so he could set up a consult.

Normally, when I bring up orthognathic surgery with patients, it’s almost always rejected out of hand.  The notion of jaw surgery is not attractive to most people.  The high costs can also be a major factor in rejecting the idea.  But, not this guy.  He was excited!  And, I’m excited for him.

Moral of the story… slow down.  Chat with your patients.  Assume nothing.

This will be life-changing for him.  Stay tuned (though, this will likely take a couple of years).

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8 Responses to Talk with and listen to your patients! You never know where the conversation will lead.

    • The Dental Warrior says:

      Hey, Sherman! Happy Independence day, my brotha! 🙂 I hope you are well. Drop me an email and catch up if you feel so inclined! 😉

  1. Sherran Bard Beckmann says:

    Great article! If you want to grow your practice, Shut up, listen to your patient. “Successful Conversations” are the key! Happy 4th Mike. Thank you for your service.

  2. Daniel Klemmedson says:

    Simple….but so true!

  3. Kendra says:

    What a great point! Just another great example of what being relational vs. transactional can do for case acceptance. I am curious though, have you heard of AGGA? There are quite a few dentists who’ve been able to treat open bites without having to subject patients to any kind of surgery. And since you mentioned that most people people almost immediately reject the notion of surgery, this could be a really good alternative for your patients – which also means better case acceptance. 🙂

    • The Dental Warrior says:

      Sure! Who hasn’t heard of AGGA? They were huge in the 70s with hits like, “Waterloo” and “Dancing Queen.” 😛

  4. Kelly Taylor says:

    Think about what your patients think. Propose a variety of options, and identify the advantages and disadvantages of each program, and then give your suggestions.

  5. Patricia says:

    Having a conversational friendly approach is a great way to gain the trust of your patients. He can comfortably share his back story, in that way, you can give him/her an appropriate option to his condition. Thanks for sharing this Mike:). If happen you visit to Manhattan, New York, you can stop by at Beam St. 🙂

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