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Connecting with Patients

Sometimes I find it hard to connect with my patients. Especially when I’m cleaning their teeth. I don’t want it to be completely silent but I also know they can’t respond to questions as I’m cleaning. I feel awkward at times. What are some good tips and ways to connect with patients?



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2 Answers

I try to find something I might have in common with them and then build the relationship from there. Ask about what they enjoy doing outside of work, do they have children, where did they grow up. There is almost always something you will share with them that you can chat about. When a patient is new to me, I always make a note in their chart about them (never in the clinical notes though). For instance, “pt. has 3 grandchildren, grew up in ND”. The more you can remember about them, the stronger relationship you can build.
About the appt. being quiet…talking too much can lead to missing calculus or other things that need attention. I usually leave the majority of chatting to before and after treatment. Any talk during tx. is usually about homecare and what I am finding.

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There will always be some patients that you cannot totally connect with no matter how nice you are to them. You will figure out those that do not like to talk much and those who will want to talk too much. Once you are working in an office for a few years the patients will become dental family. You will see kids grow into adults and head to college. I always ask questions that require a yes or no answer sometimes…..usually we talk before, after and sometimes during…..my patients stop while passing my room to say hi before going on to the doctors room for a restoration appt. patients want to feel like we know them. I always keep notes about clinical and personal so that I always remember what we were talking about last and can ask about it the next visit etc….

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