No one looks forward to a tooth extraction. But you can allay your patients’ fears by understanding their specific concerns and providing them with the right information and service. Building patient trust also builds loyalty to you and your dental practice. Here’s a summary, based on actual patient interviews, outlining patients’ biggest concerns when it comes to tooth extraction. They all come down to: Information, Compassion, and Service.
Knowing the costs
Financial planning for a major dental procedure intimidates may patients. They feel uneasy when costs are not 100% clearly explained beforehand. Not every dental patient has an employer-paid health care plan with dental coverage. Know your patients, and put your patient personas to work. When advising a patient about an extraction, find out how they’ll be paying and give them specific information about costs and payment options. Your staff should know how to address the financial concerns of all kinds of patients—whether privately insured, uninsured, or with employer-paid insurance. If your practice offers patient financing, be sure your patients know it’s an option. Delaying needed care because of financial concerns is more common than you think.
Although tooth extractions are a routine procedure for any dentist, patients are not dental experts! Explain exactly what will take place before the extraction. Let them know who will be in the room to assist. Don’t compound patient stress by making them feel out of control or out of the loop. Patients who feel secure and informed are more likely to recommend your practice to others. Getting new patients always begins first and foremost with treating your current patients like they matter to you.
A Patient is not a Car, and you’re not a mechanic
Having a tooth extracted can make patients feel like they are being attacked by giant tools. Don’t let your patients get the feeling this is just a repair job. Remember that gentle dental care means never forgetting that there is a person attached to every procedure. Keep up with the communication during the extraction, use a calm tone of voice, tell them what will happen next, explain what instruments you will be using, and be sure to give them a way to communicate with you. Some dentists teach their patient hand signals that they can use during a procedure. This allows the patients to let the dentist know if they are experiencing significant pain and need the dentist to stop.
Outcomes and Aftercare
Many patients report feeling that they lacked information after undergoing a complex dental procedure like an extraction, a root canal or an implant. As part of providing quality dental care, give patients plenty of advice for post-procedure home care. Patients should know how to quickly identify the symptoms of an infection or other complication like a dry socket. Make sure they know to call the practice if such post-procedural problems develop. Written instructions are best, as many patients may not be able to retain all the necessary information while still under anesthesia or too focused on their pain.
These are just some of the concerns patients have reported about tooth extractions. In general, fear and worry around dental procedures is a compelling problem for all dentists: Between 5% and 8% of Americans avoid dentists altogether out of fear. Proactively addressing patient concerns is the best way to improve patient experiences and retention in the long term.