The beatings will continue until morale improves.
Most people will have heard this rather humorous english saying that simultaneously makes us laugh and understand the futility of trying to make someone happy through beating them.
Yet it is common in dentistry.
It is not surprising that so many people have anxieties about dentistry. It is simultaneously the most common form of surgery to occur without general anaesthetic and the second most intimate area of our body to have someone touching.
It's not that it is strange that people are anxious about dentistry, but that some are not!
With all this emotional baggage comes a common theme of embarrassment. The patient is already sensitive, anxious or embarrassed about the state of this intimate part of their body. This embarrassment is one of the most common reasons people put off visiting the dentist.
Yet it is so common for a dentist to tell a patient off for not having visited more recently. For the state of their mouth. For their tardiness.
Perhaps it makes us feel better to do this.
But is it an effective form of motivation? Of course not.
The patient needs hope.
So often they present to my practice feeling their teeth are hopeless. They present thinking they will all need to be removed. They present thinking their mouth is terrible. And more often than not, its much less problematic than they think.
They need hope.
So you tell them the truth about their mouth. But give them hope. It can be fixed. They can look good again (maybe not perfect, but definitely good). They can chew again. They won't get scolded for actually turning up.
A patient with hope tends to think their mouth is worth restoring and maintaining. One without tends to let it slip further into decline and decay.
So no matter the state of their mouth, or the number of years since the last visit, be positive and give them hope.
You may very well find that they turn up a bit sooner when their experience is positive. And you may also find that they don't return to any dentist for ten years if you beat them.
Dr Lincoln Harris has been completely focused on excellence and quality from the beginning of his career as a dentist. He established the first private dental practice in Bargara – Harris Dental Boutique in 2000. Since graduation he has trained extensively in Aesthetic Implant Techniques and Full Mouth Rehabilitation to attain immense skill and knowledge. With his vast dental knowledge Dr Harris coaches and trains dentists from all over the world on complex aesthetic dentistry, surgical techniques and business management. Dr Harris is the founder of RIPE. Restorative Implant Practice Excellence: Full Protocol group an international forum of over 70,000 members worldwide. The purpose of the group is to share information and excellence in the dental industry. He has also lectured in multiple cities throughout Australia, North America, Asia, Singapore, United Kingdom and Europe.