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    3 ways that daytime television is killing your dental practice

    Do you have TVs playing in your dental practice? This author says that might not be the best idea for your bottom line.

    There has been a trend in the dental industry for many years of mounting televisions with local cable channels or the ability to play movies to entertain patients while they are receiving care in the office.

    I have heard it said that this is a great way for modern offices to build value for patients because it was distracting them from unpleasant noises, and, in general, “taking their minds off what we are doing.” But I ask the question: How is distracting attention away from what we do “building value?” Isn’t it just, well, distracting? I sometimes wonder if it becomes the “easy way out” for some clinicians? We know patients don’t want to be at the dentist, so why not make them feel like they aren’t there at all? Then we wonder why they don’t follow through with the treatment we have recommended!

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    Here are three ways that having TVs playing local channels, news stations, cable, or even movies, are creating a bigger challenge for you for case acceptance.

    You lose the opportunity to spend time educating the patient about dentistry and their oral health.

    If the patient sits in your chair, asks for the headphones, and settles in to watch “Ellen” (a favorite show of mine, when I have the rare opportunity to catch it!) while the hygienist “pokes around,” you have to interrupt the show in order to discuss what you are doing or any area of concern. Instead, the patient should be hearing about what procedure you are performing, what you are looking for, what you might be concerned about if you do see, and what the diagnosis is. If a hygienist performs a perio screening with probe depths, recession, mobility, and bleeding points, as well as an oral cancer screening, soft tissue evaluation, oral hygiene evaluation, hard tissue evaluation, and prophylaxis, wouldn’t it “build value” to tell the patient? How can a hygienist argue that she is doing more than just a “cleaning” unless she tells the patient? Involve the patient in the evaluations to build trust and rapport. The TV will simply shut them out and distract them.

    In restorative appointments, it can be equally important to take the time to involve the patient, especially when treatment changes. Using the intraoral camera is instrumental in helping patients to understand your diagnosis and what you have done to help them. Take before, during, and after photos. Take photos of large preparations prior to restoration, fractures that extend through the floor of the prep, unexpected pathology, or anything that will support your diagnosis. Having to interrupt the patient’s favorite show to explain this to him or her can ensure very divided attention. Explaining after the fact may be perceived as justification or defending the diagnosis, whereas involving the patient when the pathology is discovered will more naturally lead to permission to restore.

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    Andrea Greer, RDH
    Over her 25 years of experience in the dental industry, Andrea Greer has led practices from many positions: dental assistant, hygienist, ...

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