Aesthetic dentistry expert – trust and communication

aesthetic dentistry expertTrust is essential between dentist and patient. Manrina Rhode explores what too much trust is and what is not trusting you enough.

As aesthetic dentists, it’s paramount that patients have the utmost trust in your abilities.

They have chosen you to complete an elective procedure because they trust you will make them look better in the most minimally invasive way possible to get the result they want.

They most likely/hopefully haven’t come to you because you are the cheapest. But because they trust you to deliver.

What is too much trust and what is not trusting you enough?

One of the treatments you may offer is replacing old amalgam fillings for composite fillings.

When a patient has sensitivity after you place a white filling, for example, or the bite doesn’t feel quite right, but they don’t tell you. Is that too much trust that you won’t have done anything wrong and it will settle? Or is it not enough trust to be honest with you about what they were feeling? Perhaps they don’t want to hurt your feelings.

It’s important to explain to patients at every visit that they should feel comfortable to message you about anything they are feeling post treatment. Often we have solutions that can help.

I remind them at the end of every visit, otherwise they may forget and not want to bother you.

Using the above patient as an example, if they told you they had developed sensitivity to cold, you may recommend topical application of a desensitiser. If they have sensitivity to hot, you may consider nerve irritation and look into that.

Sometimes when the patient is numb it’s not possible to fully determine if they have the correct bite or if they have habits you aren’t aware of.

Then after the procedure, the bite may feel off. They should know to inform you about this before it develops into bruising of the periodontal ligament and worse pain.

Another example

What about a patient who comes for a replacement crown. The colour of the crown doesn’t match their other teeth and the margin is visible.

You book a nice long appointment to remove the old crown, re-prep the tooth, take impressions and place a new temporary crown.

The appointment is straight forward. The old crown comes off easily, there is not much to prepare on the tooth. The first PVS impression is perfect etc. You have them in and out of your chair in no time at all and the rest of the appointment time to make a cup of tea.

Then imagine the patient complains that they had an appointment booked for 1.5 hours, but were out of your chair in half that time. Does that indicate a lack of trust in you? Should you continue to treat that patient after this verbal complaint?

It’s very important that your patients believe you are doing the best for them. It’s nice if patients appreciate when you can work quickly and still get a great result.

If a patient questions your ability to the receptionist, does that show a lack of trust or an openness to feel able to express any concerns, or both?

It’s important for patients to understand that they are not paying for your time but for a particular procedure. However long that may take, within reason.

This is just an introductory discussion into the interesting dynamic between dentist and patient. One where trust and communication are so important and correct equilibrium needs achieving.


To book Manrina’s courses, see courses tab on her website www.drmanrinarhode.com.

Catch up with previous Aesthetic dentistry expert columns:

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