#1 – Understand all Dental procedures and can answer Client’s questions

This and the next section are designed to give you enough information to answer your clients’ specific questions about procedures. Just having this information and explaining it to clients isn’t enough. Nothing happens until the client says “yes.” The second section includes all of our handouts to clients. These are written in a way that not only gives our client the needed information, but also explained in a way that is simple and clear.

To complete this section, you will need to be able to determine the client’s need, help them decide on treatment, and answer their questions in the process. You will role-play these situations with the dentist or one of the team leaders acting as the client. First, use the appropriate brochure. Personalize it for the client. Write their full name on the front. Make notes inside. Draw arrows. Do all your thinking with your pen on the brochure. The more you mark it up, the more it becomes special to your client.

Second, ask questions. The more you memorize a speech, or read the brochure to your client, the quicker they will “turn you off.” Lecturing to people says you know more, and that they aren’t as important as you. When you ask questions, you show your interest in them as a person. You establish an adult relationship a friendship. Here are some examples of questions:

1. Endodontics: Are you planning on losing all your teeth and wearing plates or would you rather have your natural teeth all your life?

2. Crowns: Would you rather pay less and have a big silver filling that could break down again, or would you rather pay more and strengthen your tooth with a cap?

3. Thorough exam: Where you are now is like having your house on fire and calling a carpenter. It will burn faster than he can build. Its better to put the fire out first and then build whatever you want, and it will last. To put out the fire means you’ll need a plan and that’s what Dr. ____ will work with you to develop during your thorough exam.

Once your client has told you what they want, then you have permission to explain the treatment. Be sure to offer them choices. This shows you value their opinions. Use analogies (That abscessed tooth is just like a pressure cooker with no way to release the pressure. Today Dr. Smith can relieve that pressure and help the tooth feel better).

Don’t be wordy! When you are good at this step. You will be able to go through this entire dialogue with the client saying, “yes” in five minutes. This won’t happen for awhile. Don’t worry about it. The important thing is helping the client make the decision that is right for them. Not how fast you go or manipulating them to accept the most expensive treatment.

Look for feedback. Are they nodding in agreement? Are they listening closely? Are they looking at you? Do they ask questions and talk with you? Help them feel comfortable to treat you like a human being not a dental robot.
Both you and your doctor will know when you have completed these steps successfully the clients will accept quality care most of the time. Why shouldn’t they?

Finally, you will probably find that this is the most difficult section of level II. It is. When you first started to work here you thought the specific procedures/tasks of your job were tough to learn. You’ve got those basics down now. That only took a few months. Now you’re struggling with communicating with people. This is really hard. Some people just do this easily; others really have to work at it. Everyone we hire has the ability to do this or we wouldn’t have hired you. As you progress through the levels more and more of your time will be spent on learning to communicate and deal with people more effectively. That is the difference between a job and a career.

Have members of the staff role play with you. At first, this will be very uncomfortable, even silly for you. Have a member of the staff act as the client and ask you questions from these tasks. Ask the staff to throw you some tough questions from their experience. Don’t fall out of character. The most difficult thing is to think fast enough to keep the conversation going. Don’t say, “At this point I’d say . . . or anything like that. You may stumble, but at least you’re learning. Ask yourself:
1. How did that make you feel?
2. What did you learn? When the doctors review this level they will role-play these concepts with you also.

Level I was designed to involve you with some introductory techniques and skills of dentistry. Level II begins by asking you to learn the language of dentistry. You will already have picked up much information, but now’s the time to learn it in detail.

It’s one thing to understand dentistry and something entirely different to be able to communicate this information to a client.

Here are some hints when talking with a client:

1. Do you have any funny speaking habits? Whining, shrill voice, constant repetition of a phrase do you see? so to speak, ok, etc.
2. Don’t interrupt or raise your voice for attention.
3. Don’t monopolize a conversation. Allow the client to have equal time at least.

Read through all the handouts we use in the office. Again, learn them and then have staff and friends ask you questions so you can practice your answers.

You would think that clients would listen most to what dentists say, but that’s just not true. Many clients don’t understand what the dentist said and they won’t say anything. They don’t want to look stupid. However, they will ask you. They look on you as a knowing professional also.

To help you get started understanding the language of healthcare, here are some definitions from lifeline:

Artery  – The study of paintings
Bacteria – The back door of a cafeteria
Cesarean Section – A neighborhood in Rome
Cauterize – Made eye contact with her
Dilate – To live long
Nitrates – Cheaper than day rates
Node – Was aware of
Outpatient – Someone who fainted
Postoperative – Letter carrier
Terminal illness – Getting sick at the airport
Urine – Opposite of you’re out
Varicose – Nearby
Vein – Conceited

LOL! Okay, maybe not, but is this what your client hears when you are “communicating?” learn the following answers.

Can you add any to them?

3 main Functions of Teeth
1. Speech
2. Appearance
3. Chewing

What is a root canal?
A root canal is when the doctor opens the tooth, removes the infection, and then fills and seal the tooth, preventing further infections.

What are the advantages of a crown?
A crown is long-lasting, looks like a natural tooth, and strengthens a weakened tooth.

What is involved in getting a crown?
You will have two appointments. At the first appointment the doctor will prepare your tooth and take impressions so that the crown can be made. At this time you will be fitted with a temporary crown. Two weeks later you will come back and have your permanent crown placed.

Will it hurt when the doctor extracts my tooth?
During the procedure you should not feel any pain. If you feel anything but pressure, let the doctor know. His goal is to make the procedure a pain free experience for for you.

What is a pulpotomy?
A pulpotomy will help to control the infection in the tooth. The doctor will open the tooth and pack the infected area with a medicated filling.

Why fix baby teeth?
The doctor does not normally restore teeth that will be out within a year, however, some baby teeth stay in the mouth until the age of 14. Untreated decay could spread to permanent teeth or even abscess, causing more problems.

What is an implant?
An implant is a titanium cylinder, which is surgically implanted into the jawbone and acts as a root replacement. After the area is healed the doctor can place a crown on the implant which will replace the missing tooth.

What are the advantages of an implant?
Some of the advantages of an implant are that it looks, feels and functions like a natural tooth. Existing teeth do not have to be cut down, implants look great, cannot decay, and preserve bone structure.

What are the disadvantages of an implant?
The most apparent disadvantage is the need for surgery, as with any surgical procedure, there are risks. Implants require good home care, take time to heal before placing the crown, can sometimes fail, and are more costly than other tooth replacement options.

What are the advantages of a fixed bridge?
A fixed bridge is not removable, looks like or better than the natural teeth it replaces, and functions like a natural tooth.

What are the disadvantages of a fixed bridge?
A fixed bridge requires cutting the teeth down to make room for the cap, your teeth can become sensitive to hot and cold, these teeth could need root canals later, it is costly, and decay can cause the bridge to fall out.

What are the advantages of an etched bridge?
An etched bridge require very little tooth cutting, is less expensive than a fixed bridge, is comfortable and is moderately priced.

What are the disadvantages of an etched bridge?
If the bridge does not bond to the teeth, it can mean redoing the bridge and additional costs and they only tend to last for 7-10 years.

What are the advantages of a removable plastic partial denture?
A removable plastic partial denture is quick to make, inexpensive, and looks okay.

What are the disadvantages of a removable plastic partial denture?
It increases your risk of gum disease and decay, they can break easily, and ten to be bulkier than metal partial dentures.
What are the advantages of a removable metal partial denture?
Often only requires minor reshaping of the teeth, it supports your bite very well, preventing shifting of teeth, it is less expensive than a fixed bridge, improves chewing and appearance, and is easier to repair.

What are the disadvantages of a removable metal partial denture?
It must be removed and rinsed after you eat, when out of your mouth, it can be broken, clasps and metal framework can be unattractive, it is bulky and difficult to get used to. It will also need to be relined every 3-7 years so it fits properly.

What are veneers?
Veneers are small pieces of tooth-colored plastic or porcelain that are bonded to the teeth to improve the appearance of the tooth.

What is an STM (Soft Tissue Management series)?
An STM is a deep cleaning that helps to get rid of gum disease and restore the gums to a healthy sate.

What is the difference between the in-office whitening versus at-home whitening?
Whitening in the office is more expensive than the in-home whitening but it can produce results in less time. Both require maintenance after the whitening process is completed.

What are sealants?
Sealants help to prevent cavities by preventing decay from getting tin the grooves of the teeth.

To learn treatment, here are some suggestions:

  • Read all the handouts – these will be the most frequent questions that patients ask.
  • Borrow a Caesy patient education DVD and watch all the presentations.
  • Read the Consumers Guide to Dentistry book
  • Have lunch with hygienists and assistants and ask them to explain treatment to you.
  • Visit – website by the ADA for the general public