APPROACHES TO EFFECTIVE PATIENT CARE
Some useful suggestions for achieving behavioral change in patients include the
a. Learn About Your Patient. One complaint that many patients have is that
they feel as if they are "just another body." In other words, the dentist and his staff are
too impersonal. Nothing will ensure patient cooperation faster than showing some
genuine concern and personal feeling for your patient.
b. Establish the Patient's Dental Intelligence Quotient. As discussed in the section
on patient communication, it is important to know the patient's opinion of his oral health and his
goals for restoring and/or maintaining his oral health. Before a patient can be motivated
to use preventive dentistry techniques, he must first be aware that he has a problem
and how you can help him solve it. Plaque control education without establishing a
need is wasted effort.
c. Set Short-Range Goals for Your Patient. Long-range goals and objectives
tend to discourage patients. People, in general, like immediate gratification. Don't
expect people who have a very serious dental disease caused by years of neglect to
change overnight. Set such goals as learning how to remove plaque successfully with
disclosing agents or learning how to floss properly. People like things they can see--a
pretty smile, gums that don't bleed, and so forth. Unfortunately, a healthy mouth, by itself, has
not proven to be a good motivator.
d. Praise Your Patient. Positive reinforcement is a terrific motivator. Brag
about your patient's progress, even if it may seem slower than you like. Strongly
encourage the patient that is trying diligently. Remember that patients that are criticized
severely at every visit tend to stop coming in for treatment.
e. Keep It Simple. Using long professional sounding words are only impressive
to you. They mean nothing to most patients. Use language they can understand. Use
training aids as needed, especially when treating small children. Everyone enjoys the
"show and tell" method.