The Art of Influencing Our Patients Part 1: An Opportunity for Experiential Learning
All dental schools teach a system for doing a clinical examination. The goal is typically to gather as much information about current clinical conditions as possible, as efficiently as possible. It is an important aspect of patient care. The science of the exam is useful, but it misses the art of the examination. In my experience, it is often a missed opportunity
In dentistry, we are always trying to figure out the best way to influence our patients to make healthy choices for themselves. When I left Hygiene school, I thought it would be simple to influence patients. I thought that if I did a good examination, a good diagnosis, and then made a good presentation, patients would go ahead and do the treatment.
What I experienced when I was in practice was different. Over time, multiple conversations, and multiple interactions—in their own time and in their own way, patients would move forward with treatment. Sometimes it seemed random, but what I’ve come to understand now is that every interaction was an opportunity to influence the patient.
Every single interaction, with every single patient, by every single member of the dental team is an opportunity to influence.
I think most of us have learned over the years to be skillful at providing information. We know how to “Teach and Tell” what we are finding and recommending. But there is an aspect of that process that has to do with experience. What we have not always paid attention to is how we can go beyond information to create learning experiences for our patients.
When I see a baby touching grass, I imagine that the experience of learning about grass through the senses is entirely different than learning by being told about grass. Creating opportunities for people to interact physically with their own bodies is an opportunity we have in a number of different situations. We can do this during a consultation, but we really have this opportunity during an examination.
If we place priority on effectiveness over efficiency, we will do our exams with the intention of creating physical-sensory experiences, which can be as simple as having them touch their muscles as they touch their teeth together, sliding their jaw forward and side to side, finding a relaxed jaw position, tapping their teeth together, clenching, feeling fremitus with their tongue or finger, feeling the difficulty of flossing between tightly packed teeth, and taking us on a tour of their mouth in a mirror while telling us about their concerns. It’s natural to say, “Tell me more about that. Show me where.”
Consider the new patient exam as the initiation of an experiential learning process to influence our patients to make healthy choices.
The new patient exam is not “the one” opportunity we will have to influence patients. We’ll have many more opportunities, but it sets the tone for every conversation you will have with your patients about their health, about the conditions present in their mouth, about the implications of what is going on in their mouth, and some of the choices they might be able to make.
Job one is to engage the patient in discovering just how intriguing their mouth is and why the health of its various components matter for long-term comfort, function, beauty, and overall health.
The Pankey Hygienist: Where Clinical & Behavioral Science UniteDATE: February 29 2024 @ 8:00 am - March 2 2024 @ 8:00 pm
Location: The Pankey Institute
CE HOURS: 23
Regular Tuition: $ 2895
Single Occupancy Room with Ensuite Bath (Per Night): $ 290
The Power of Development Hygienists and Dentists: Are you ready for your hygiene appointments to be more effective both clinically and relationally? Can you imagine having a totally fresh perspective…Learn More>