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3 Tips to Better Your Case Presentation Skills

3 Tips to Better Your Case Presentation Skills
Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH

Mandy, a hygienist for the last 10 years, was not looking forward to her day at the office.


Every day she goes through the same routine: Oral assessment, discuss outstanding treatment plan, hear ‘no’ from the patient to scheduling their next appointment… Why patients don’t want to avoid pain, health problems and future expenses is beyond her understanding. Mandy is stressed. Mandy and her doctor have been in the same routine for years, and they can’t figure out why so few patients accept treatment plans Mandy and her doctor present.

Have you ever felt like Mandy? Like no matter what you say, patients just don’t ever say ‘yes’? I know I have.

The fact is, most people are not excited about dental treatment. People will pay for what they want not necessarily what they need. So the answer to Mandy’s and likely your problem lies in this question: “How can you get your patients to want what they need?”

The following suggestions are only the tip of the iceberg but will begin to shift your case presentation outcome:

1. Create a partnership with your patients

After you have established or re-established rapport with your patient, explain what you will be doing during their appointment.

For example: “Mrs. Smith, our assistant Jenn will be here in just a minute. When she arrives you will hear me call out some numbers. I am going to use this small ruler (hold up your perio probe) and measure the health of your gums. If you hear me call out a number 3 or less, that means your gums are healthy. If you hear a 4 this means there is inflammation and if you hear a 5 or higher then this number refers to active disease.  When I am finished calling out the numbers I will ask you to tell me what the highest and lowest numbers were. Do you have any questions about what I will be doing?”

Let your patients have a say-so in their treatment and you will reap the benefits of the outcome should they have an oral condition that needs treatment.


2. Educate patients using visuals

Most people are visual learners. When you see heavy bleeding or a broken tooth, use an intraoral camera and take a picture. Put this picture on your computer monitor and together, with your patient, show them what you see in their mouth. .

Then, ask your patient if they see the broken tooth, filling or bleeding gums, etc. Get your patient to participate in the discovery phase. Ask for their input.

You may also want to use patient brochures, tooth models or posters, or look at photos that can help your patient understand what is happening in their mouth.

3. Anticipate patient objections

Typically, patients object to treatment for one of three reasons: money, time or fear. Try to anticipate the patient objection before they say it aloud.

For example: if you have a new patient in your chair, it is helpful for the front office or new patient coordinator to provide some insight on this patient ahead of time. Did the new patient make a comment on their first phone call to your office about not having a lot of time to spend in the dental office? Did they mention leaving their previous dentist because they thought it was too expensive? Did the patient tell you they have not been to a dentist in 10 years because of dental anxiety?

Whatever qualms you know the patient has, share them with the other providers so they too can address the issue and have a better chance at overcoming the objection. The benefit is the patient can better focus on the treatment outcome: the benefits to them for completing treatment versus why they can’t follow through with treatment.

Finally, What is the number one reason most patients will say ‘yes,’ to schedule and pay for treatment?

Trust. If a patient trusts you, they will say yes to your guidance. 

Most patients will only know how well you treated them not how good a clinician you are.

Future Success

Mandy and her doctor’s success is dependent upon their case acceptance. Even when other systems are successful and running efficiently, their failure to master case-presentation skills will put a halt to future profitability in the practice.

Until both Mandy and Dr. Jones master case-presentation skills, they will depend upon seeing a large number of patients daily to generate enough profit. A stressful and schedule that focuses on prophy patients and single-tooth dentistry will not be as productive as one that can master case-presentation skills.

The future in this practice begins with exceptional case presentation skills, and so does yours.


Tell us, what tools do you use to help with case presentation?

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