Dental Continuing Education is missing a massive piece. We have so many great programs that teach cosmetic dentistry, and occlusion, TMJ, neuromuscular, implant, restorative and rehabilitative dentistry, but nothing out there really teaches you how to take that knowledge and communicate that to the patient so that the patient sees value in it.
Many dentists struggle with case presentation and communication. But communication and case presentation are skills and they can be taught. They can be learned, and improved, and fine-tuned so that we can shine instead of struggle when presenting complex or comprehensive treatment to our patients.
But communication is the one skill that is not being taught in dental education. We are missing the communication component and it’s the most important piece to case presentation. It’s not just about learning how to use something or know something. It’s about being able to communicate the benefits of this something to the patient, and do so in a way that the patient can relate and understand. And even more importantly, in a way they can connect with it.
There are different types of patients. How you communicate with each type needs to be honed based on who they are and how they want to be communicated with. If you only present treatment in a way you want to present it, you will miss out on so many patients that are not like you. And the worst part is, not only will they not hear you, they won’t connect with you, because you are not like them, and so they will miss out on the opportunity to have this great dental treatment that you are offering.
So here it is; here is how you communicate to each patient: talk about how the patient benefits. Dentists are stuck on talking about the clinical and presenting all kinds of detail about the procedure.
Take the simple example: your patient asks you: what are you going to do?
And typical response involves the process, description of the procedure.
But that’s not what the patient is really asking; he patient is really asking: why are you doing this to me? What is the why?
When my patients ask: how do you do a crown?
I tell them it’s secret knowledge, and if I tell them they will then be able to do it on their own.
Then, I ask them: What do you want to know?
What they are really asking is: why are you doing this to me?
It’s not the procedure. They don’t want you to describe the procedure. They want you to tell them why and they want to know specifically as related to who they are.
Focus on what that thing can do for them, what the benefit is to them, what’s in this for them, so when they leave they feel good about having it done to them and paying for it. You have to build value by communicating the benefits, and in terms of who they are.
That’s what we need to learn as dentists – to customize the presentation so that the patient is getting what they want to hear, in a way they want to hear it in.