The Coronavirus (COVID-19) helped educate patients on how good hygiene habits such as hand washing can help prevent contagious infection. It also highlighted how important having a healthy immune system is if you become exposed and contract an infection. As patients return to the practice for hygiene and clinical care, it may be valuable to ensure they understand the connection between their oral health and other health issues in their body, including their immune system.
When talking with patients about the connection between their oral and overall health, it’s important to introduce the topic and provide details in a way patients can understand and absorb the information. Having patients complete health history forms, taking their blood pressure and proactively discussing the oral systemic health connection may be well received and appreciated. I’ve found a system, which I call the 5 Ps, that creates a great framework for this important conversation.
Step 1: Positioning
To start the conversation, you want to set patient expectations that you and your practice are unique in your approach to oral health because you understand the systemic oral health link. It’s important that you introduce the idea and value of oral systemic health early in your patient’s journey.
Step 2: Pleasing Benefit
The next step is to explain, in easy to understand language, what a total health practice is and how it directly benefits the patient. It’s important the patient understands this is added value you are providing, not added cost, as cost is often the barrier to treatment acceptance.
Step 3: Proof Story
If possible, having a summary of the oral system health connection available to review with the patient and adding a story of a patient who’s benefited from total health dentistry can help new patients understand the value in real-life terms.
Step 4: Ask Permission
The fourth step is to gain the patient’s permission to be treated with total health dentistry as the foundation of their ongoing care. Ultimately it’s the patient’s decision on the level and type of care they want to receive. We’ve found that when patients have a choice, they usually select the option that will benefit them most.
Step 5: Present a Payment Solution
When patients value their oral health by seeing how it connects to their overall health, they are often more willing to invest in needed dentistry. All that remains is enabling them to get the care by overcoming other barriers, such as cost and time. Addressing cost concerns, especially as the economy recovers, will be more important than ever. Having a financing solution like the CareCredit credit card can help in this area by enabling patients to use promotional financing and pay over time.
Dentistry is essential health care, and it’s important for patients to understand how oral health is connected to conditions such as heart health, diabetes, transient ischemic attack, osteoporosis and their immune system. When you provide total health dentistry, you provide value which not only builds patient trust and loyalty, but also differentiates your practice from others and helps patients understand that dentistry is not a commodity—it’s a pathway to overall health and wellness.
Author Gary Kadi is CEO of dental education company NextLevel Practice.
TDA Perks Partner CareCredit makes it easier for patients to access care by providing a healthcare credit card that helps families manage out-of-pocket expenses for dental procedures. For information on CareCredit, visit tdaperks.com (Insurance, Dental Benefits & Marketing) or call 800-300-3046 x 4519.