Question of the Week – How do we address patients who come in our office not ‘wanting’ to do any dentistry?

4 Sep

Question of the Week – How do we address patients who come in our office not ‘wanting’ to do any dentistry?




Great question – First of all, we’ve got to realize that if they have taken time to call you, schedule an appointment and actually show up, chances are they ‘want’ something.  It’s our job to find out what it is that they really do want!


 All patients want teeth that look good, feel good, and last a long time.  The misconception is that they want dentistry.  Not so – but they do want the benefits that your dentistry offers. 


If you feel as if you are getting resistance, most often it’s because the patient might feel as if you are trying to ‘sell’ them by asking questions that don’t really apply to them (from their perception).  Be cautious when asking questions – be sure you are following the patient and that they fit their individual situation.  For example, if you have a patient that is just there for a cleaning and they have not indicated a desire to do anything else, you probably want to start with a broad question.  Here are some examples of good ‘starter’ questions that can get the wheels turning without offending your patient, or making them feel ‘sold’. 


‘What’s most important to you when it comes to your teeth?’


‘What do you want your teeth to be like 20 years from now?’


‘How important is prevention to you?’


‘What long term goals do you have when it comes to your teeth?’


Sometimes we hit a wall with the responses our patients give us – many times it’s because we’ve asked a question that isn’t really appropriate to begin with, but there’s still hope!  Here are some examples….



‘Nothing is hurting right now’


‘That’s great!  It’s no fun to have dental pain/problems.  How interested are you in preventing those types of issues?  If we could work with you to come up with a preventive plan that will help to avoid pain down the road, is that something you’d like to do?’



‘My fillings are fine – I’ve had them for 20 years and they’re still holding up’


‘Wow – it sounds like you’ve really gotten your money’s worth!  How long are you thinking those fillings may last?’


‘I’m fine right now.  I just want my teeth cleaned’


‘We can certainly do that for you.  How do you see us helping you down the road?’


Sometimes you need to get your patients out of the present – if they can look down the road, away from the current time and money constraints they feel, it’s easier for them to open up and talk about what’s most important to them. 

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