Make it Clear – keep 3 to 5 bullet points

Many studies are now showing that our attention capacities may  have dropped about 30% comparing to 10 years back. The true consequences of this are not clearly known. Besides the obvious negative aspects this might also be due to the fact that today our brains seek for new information at a much higher rate.

Some treatments for example should always be presented with some sort of visual aid such as education models or animated videos. For example, it is not easy to explain a sinus lift procedure without a video. But even with videos animations, some situations still need to be explained verbally. A good example of this is to explain the difference between two alternative treatments such as ceramic veneers and composite restorations.

You can use these bullet points:

Ceramic Veneers        Composite Restorations
Excellent Esthetic result Good Esthetic result
Does not stain over time Stains over time
More resistant to fracture just like natural teeth More prone to fracture than natural teeth
May need some preparation of the tooth surface Usually no tooth preparation is required.

Do you need to complicate further than this when you are talking to the patient? No. You can specify the material used, the warranties and a few more differences on the written document but again, do not complicate what is actually simple unless the patient demands so. Use 3 points, maximum 5.

Being clear and objective does not mean being over simplistic. You are not selling generic products. You are a provider of a personalised  health treatment. So you must always make sure the patient understands that you are presenting these options because it is indicated in his/her specific situation and desires.

Remember that treatment plan presentation is about focusing on the process and not on the outcome. Don´t let the anxiety of being rejected affect, in any way, your focused thought process. It is very common for unexperienced dentists to overcomplicate the verbal communication. So make your efforts in having  the patient clarified (not confused!) and show your expertise. Acceptance is just a result of clarity and trust.

photo credit: Tim Sheerman-Chase at Flickr

Jorge Andre Cardoso

DMD, MClinDent Prosthodontics
Honorary Clinical Teacher - Kings College London, UK
Founder MakeMeClear
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