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Dental Advice from A Fellow Human

Sometimes, the beginning of a successful patient-doctor relationship can begin with a phone conversation. You get a phone call from someone who has been referred to you by another patient, a friend, or a colleague. This person wants to make an appointment, but first there are some questions he or she wants to ask before making that appointment. This is an opportunity to make a good impression … so don`t blow it! Turn on that “phone smile” … that “so-happy-you-called” voice. Listen to what the caller has to say. Don`t jump into the middle of his or her thoughts.

Frequently, the prospective patient wants to complain about his or her last dentist. Don`t let yourself get hooked into that scene! You don`t enhance your status by tearing down a colleague. Keep any negative thoughts to yourself; at least until you`ve had a chance to meet with the patient and do a thorough examination.

Caution: Don`t express a definitive diagnostic opinion over the phone. People often will call, asking for professional advice on the phone, hoping to get the information they seek without making an appointment … and preferably for “free.” It`s so tempting to express your thoughts, because you feel you know the answer. You`ve heard the question a million times. But wait until you`ve seen the patient! Once you`ve said something off the top of your head – sight unseen – it`s difficult to take it back. There is nothing wrong with saying to a patient, “Mrs. Wilson, I could give you my gut feeling off the top of my head, but that would be a disservice to you. Please, come in, so I can look at the situation and give you the full benefit of my professional expertise.”

The same principle goes “double” when someone calls asking a front-desk person, “How much is a cleaning or how much do you charge for a filling?” The response should be, “It depends on the tooth and the condition. Every situation is different. But we`ll be happy to set up an appointment for you to see the doctor for an examination and he`ll answer all of your questions. Our fee for complete X-rays and an examination is …”