Top tips for treatment acceptance

From first impressions to showing evidence, Manrina Rhode discusses how to create a high treatment acceptance rate.

Today I’m going to talk to you about patient conversion and treatment acceptance.

First impressions

It seems like a silly and obvious thing to say, but it’s surprising how many dentists don’t think about the first impression that they make for patients when they walk into the room. I want to cut to a scene here of a dentist busy typing on the computer with their back to a patient as a patient walks into the door. That doesn’t make anyone feel welcome.

If you want your patients to like you and to trust you, and you want to show them that you really care – and I’m sure that you do – put whatever you’re doing aside, make sure when they come into the room that you stop, you look them in the eye, you shake their hand, and make them feel welcome, and welcome them into your surgery.

Once they’re in, let them sit down and have a chat with them. Coming to the dentist is is a nerve racking experience for the majority of people; there’s a rare few that enjoy it. So, what we can do as professionals is make sure we take the time to talk to them, talk to them about their day, talk to them about a recent holiday, something they’re wearing – anything to make them feel relaxed and feel like they’re in a kind, supportive, comfortable environment.

Showing evidence

Once you’ve established a relationship with the patient, it’s important to hear their reasons for coming in that day. Then I will often repeat their reasons back to them so they know that I’ve heard them and have understood what they’ve said.

Then we go through a thorough dental examination. We’ll take X-rays, scans, photos, whatever we need, and we’ll fill all the evidence up on the screens in our clinic. On whatever screens you’re using – your computer screen if you don’t have screens all over the room – put it up so that you’re not asking the patient to take your word for it when you’re showing them evidence for any treatment that you’re suggesting.

So we have our X-rays up, I have shown them the X rays, I then explain them. We forget far too often that patients can’t read X-rays; they don’t know which bits are tooth or which bits are bone. So, show them: ‘This is tooth, this is bone, these your roots, this black area here is where you’ve got some decay, this white area here is an old filling’. Go through explaining what everything is, and then tell them what you’re seeing and where your concerns lie.

And then you can use software to help you. We have an AI software that we use in DRMR clinic – we pop the X-rays through the AI and the AI then also creates a report on the X-rays. Patients love that because then they’re not taking my word for it as the AI is saying the same thing.

Communication tools

Sometimes AI will pick up issues that I’ve not picked up. It reads X-rays on a Pixlr level, so it can see Pixlr changes in interproximal margins and find that the patient is not flossing or they’ve started to get some decalcification. And then you can show that to a patient as evidence that you know they’re not flossing and why it’s so important that they should.

If you’ve got an intraoral scanner it’s amazing to be able to open that up, show them their mouth, and point out the plaque build up they’ve got on the inside of their lower teeth, any ditching around their fillings, any worries or issues that they may have, and their bite. It’s a really great communication tool.

And then you have photos. You should be taking a full series of photos for every patient that comes in, from full face to retracted mouth, so that you’ve got that to point out and show them where they may want to change.

During the appointment itself, it’s important that you’re clearly communicating everything that you’re explaining to the patient. You should not just say words that they probably don’t understand, you need to use visual images to show what it is that you’re talking about.

Follow up

At the end of the appointment, we pass our patient over to the treatment coordinator who can sit with them in a non-clinical environment and talk to them about the procedures that are planned, the costs involved with them, the different payment options, and the appointments required. We will also send them a detailed plan, not written in dental terms, but written in a way with images to show them which tooth is the problem and what they might want to do about it so it’s all very clear.

We may even send them a video explanation so they can really understand what was discussed at the appointment, and then they’ve got something that they can share with their  friends and family or other any decision makers.

The treatment coordinator then follows up with the patient afterwards to say, ‘Now you’ve taken all the information in, can I help you further? Can we set up a second chat? Where would you like to go from here?’ This way the patient feels really supported in their journey.

Going through things like this will create a really high acceptance rate. I have a very high acceptance rate once patients come to see me because you build trust, you build clarity, you’re not hiding things, you’re making it very clear which treatments you’re suggesting.

This way, the patients don’t leave confused. They leave feeling cared for and like they’ve had a comprehensive examination and a comprehensive explanation of their options.

Catch up with previous Aesthetic Dentistry Expert columns:

Follow on Instagram to keep up with all the latest dental news and trends.

Visit Manrina’s website here:

Get the most out of your membership by subscribing to Dentistry CPD
  • Access 600+ hours of verified CPD courses
  • Includes all GDC recommended topics
  • Powerful CPD tracking tools included
Register for webinar
Add to calendar