Manrina Rhode gives her top tips for completing an aesthetic dental consultation as well as things to consider during the process.
You may want to allow 60-90 minutes for this consultation. Often there are patients who you have seen for a general check up who expressed an interest in cosmetic dental options. You should then rebook to complete a full consultation so you have enough time to discuss options fully.
1. Never rush
There are often many options that take time to explain.
These treatments are optional so you want to make sure you have enough time to explain each one without the patient or yourself feeling rushed.
The most important part of this consultation is to listen. Don’t assume you know what this patient wants or tell them what you think they need.
Listen to them. Find out what they don’t like about their smile. Find out when this started bothering them. And finally find out why it’s time to do something about it now.
3. Give all options
It’s easy to limit the options you give to those you can deliver.
Let me give you an example. A clinician sent me a picture of their patient with old veneers on Instagram to ask my opinion on treatment options.
She had recession around the margins, the veneers were stained and weren’t straight and the patient wanted to freshen up her smile.
The obvious solution here was to replace the old veneers with a great new set. They were worn, stained and no longer fit well in her smile. I explained this to the clinician. But this clinician felt replacing all the old veneers in a predictable way was out of her scope of practice. The clinician decided to place bonding around the old veneers.
This would create a substandard result.
If you would like to learn how to predictably do veneers then of course you can attend my veneer course Designing Smiles. If you are not wanting to learn this skill, that’s ok too.
I consider myself an expert in veneers, but I have very little experience in root canal treatments. I therefore refer all root canal treatments to another clinician.
Create a team of clinicians that you are happy to refer too so you can freely give all options to your patient and refer them on for the treatments you don’t do best.
Learn about all options, even the ones you can’t offer.
4. Understand what your patient wants
Patients can struggle to articulate what they would like to achieve aesthetically. This is where pictures can help.
Ask them to show you pictures of celebrity smiles they like or pictures on social media. Ask them what they like about the smile. Pictures can speak louder than words.
5. Take notes
Write down everything your patient says. I ask my nurse to type in the background whilst I’m talking to my patients, anything they can get down, relevant or not.
It’s good to have a comprehensive set of notes that you can refer back to when writing up your treatment plan.
There are often many options available in aesthetic dentistry. To help your patients decide which is best for them, it’s good to look back at what their main concerns were when they came in.
6. Take pictures
These are invaluable to refer back to once you start treatment, see my blog in this series on dental photography. Also they are very useful at the consultation.
Rather than a patient aimlessly pointing at their own teeth saying ‘this one here somewhere’. Better they have a photo they can point to exactly which part of the tooth they are referring to.
Even better if it’s a screen where you can then zoom in for them to be clear.
7. Give the patient a mirror
Give the patient a mirror to hold when they are explaining things to you. That way they can see themselves when they are talking about communicating their thoughts.
8. Let the patient feel relaxed
Talking about improving ones appearance is difficult for some patients. They may feel awkward or shy about the conversation. Let them know therefore it’s a safe space without judgement, where you would truly like to help them.
The consultation is a fun part of the process, understanding your patient, exploring possibilities to help them feel more confident. Enjoy it.
To book Manrina’s courses, see courses tab on her website www.drmanrinarhode.com.
Catch up with previous Aesthetic dentistry expert columns:
- Aesthetic treatment of white spots
- Aesthetic treatment options for closing a midline diastema
- Treatment of a gummy smile
- Dental photography.
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