Patient-Care Tag Archive

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What a Dentist Should Do When a Patient is Fearful


Fear and dentistry seem to go hand in hand.  Whether the fear comes from childhood experiences or is solely psychological, fear is a real thing that patients often bring with them to their appointments.

Here’s what most dentists and their teams fail to remember: people have two biological, automatic reactions when dealing with fear, FLIGHT or FIGHT.

Those patients that are in flight mode often look and sound like this:

  • Sound, they don’t make sounds, not even when asked questions. They are struggling internally to keep it together.  They also know the more conversation had during their experience, the longer they will be there.  Their goal is to get out!
  • Often show a nervous twitch by moving their feet, bouncing their leg, moving their hands, etc.
  • Ask, “How much longer?” or “What’s next?” or even “Are you almost done?”  They can’t wait to get to the door and RUN.
  • Avoid talking about same day treatment, say they want to schedule another appointment and then don’t schedule.

Flight patients are harder to notice because they are stealthy.  Meaning, they don’t let on that they are afraid.  These patients leave you wondering ‘what’s wrong with them’ or ‘with you’ because their appointment was like pulling teeth, and not the literal kind.  You can’t help but reflect on how awkward their appointment was for you and the team.

To effectively work with people in flight mode:

  1. Know the signs.  You and your team need to be able to recognize patients in flight mode.
  2. Offer calming methods to reduce fear and stress (music, laughter, warm blankets, dim lighting, stress balls, show comedies, etc) if you think they are a flight patient.
  3. Be assertive and ask, “I’m curious Mr. X.  How nervous are you about being here today?” The problem addressed is the problem solved.  Until the fear is addressed, the patient can’t truly listen and take in what you are saying about their oral care.
  4. Demonstrate confidence in your clinical skills. So often when a patient isn’t giving off the right vibe dental teams back away, feeling awkward and it throws them off their game.  They start second guessing their movements and begin to put further psychological stress on themselves which makes everything even more uncomfortable.  Know that your training and experience has uniquely prepared you for this moment with this patient.  You know how to connect, offer painless procedures, and provide a comfortable, caring environment.  Trust in that and move on.
  5. Don’t reinforce stress by talking badly about the patient, ever.  It’s normal to want to vent or release the stress of working with a fearful patient to your team.  DON’T!  The more you talk about how awkward it is to work with that patient, or how much they squirm and jump while you blow air on their teeth, or even when they don’t say two words to you the more you reinforce to you and others that it was a negative experience.  Find another way to release your stress like breathing, positive self-talk, or take a 5 minute break.  What you tell yourself you believe so be careful of what you think.

Flight patients are experiencing something very real.  As a dental professional, you want to learn how to navigate through working with this type of patient because it will make  your job and that of your team much easier.  Plus you will have less stress!


Jen Butler, M.Ed., CPC, BCC has been working in the area of stress management and resiliency coaching for over 20 years.  She is available as a coach/consultant, speaker and trainer. To learn more about her services and sign up for her monthly stressLESS newsletter to go  Take the Dental Stress Self-Assessment at to find out your stress levels. Her partnership with The Business Backer removes any financial barrier so you get the support you deserve.  Go to or contact Jen Butler directly at 623-776-6715 for more information.

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Digital Dental Crown: The Modern Day Dental Drive Through

drive thru dental crown

As children we were always told that in the future ovens would do all the cooking, clothes would dress us and, of course, cars would soar through the air. Well don’t be too disenchanted just yet; while we all wait for our hover-boards to get through R&D, new technology has sprung up that makes the present a bit more practical than sky traffic.

One of the highlights at a recent event held by the American Dental Association in San Francisco, was the discussion that took place concerning the developments made regarding generating and repairing dental crowns. As many of you known in the past restoring a tooth with a dental crown was a minimum of a two visit affair, many times taking as long as three weeks from molding an impression to placement. Fortunately new technology has emerged that can reduce procedure time immensely; through minimizing the standard waiting time for a new crown to approximately one hour. This can open your practice up to a wide-array of potential opportunities.

The new technology I am referring to is the ability to digitally construct a new crown within feet of your office. The restoration process begins about the same as before; the area is first numbed, and the tooth is readied for the new crown. But instead of making an impression of the tooth, a tiny camera is used to create a three-dimensional image of the drilled tooth. A computer program uses that to construct an image of what the tooth will look like with the crown in place. Afterwards, a machine in a nearby room processes the little details; ridges and indentations-overall components to get just the right fit. The crown is carved out of porcelain or ceramic; about 15 minutes later the new crown is glued in.

While this sort of CAD/CAM-laymen’s terms for Computer-Aided Design and Computer Aided Manufacturing- work has been around since the early 90’s, the biggest concern was the cost. Up until now these sort of machines cost a pretty hefty penny. Starting at about $100,000 this sort of equipment may have been convenient, but was terrible for profits. Now, new and affordable equipment is being sold for as low as $12,000.

Digital printing is rapidly becoming high in demand and widely used in dental and medical offices everywhere. Many dentists are recognizing the added benefits of digital technology and are implementing these systems into their practices. There is no end to what this technology can do to enhance your practice. With such a large reduction in time involved in restorative procedures like dental crown creation, you are free to use that time for other ways to enhance your practice.

I am aware that many dentists are reluctant to change their strategies and procedures that they have been implementing for years, but implore you to research the effect new technology like this can have on your practice. In addition to the cost and efficiency benefits, I have found that patients appreciate a dental practice that is familiar with the most modern procedure techniques and strategies. Imagine informing your patients that the procedure can be done in less time, with no added pain. Digital dental crowns are only the beginning of the possibilities technology like this can bring to the dentistry industry.

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Marketing Sleep Medicine For Your Dental Practice?

Like anything else, when you start a new adventure, planning the journey is key. If you’re traveling across country and are looking to get to your destination quickly and efficiently you wouldn’t leave home without a road map. The same rules apply in marketing. Strategic marketing planning is crucial. In a world of rapid multi-tasking and multi-service offerings, not many of us have time and resources to waste on arbitrary marketing efforts and aimless, costly campaigns.

Demographic consideration also plays a significant role in the development and execution of dental marketing. Take the time up front to understand and realize your demographic area and needs. For example, a market in New York City is very different from one in Sarasota, Florida or Pontiac, Illinois. What works in one area may not be effective in another area. Be open and receptive to what communication methods are most effective within your area and demographics.

A marketing roadmap approach we found successful as a base for strategic planning in dental marketing is structured into four simple categories: Inside the Practice, Outside the Practice, Online, and Offline. Within Each of these levels, various marketing tactics can be implemented and done so simultaneously among the categories. The combination of layering and targeting all of these levels is essential in maximizing marketing efforts and campaigns. Here are some additional tips, in conjunction with marketing efforts, found within each of the four categories.


Get your staff involved, as they are the lifeline of your practice! Specifically, in practicing sleep medicine, staff members need to understand the severity of health issues that may occur with untreated Obstructed Sleep Apnea and realize they have the power to help people live better lives and even help potentially save patients’ lives.

As we all know, knowledge is power. If you teach your staff to have passion for the subject matter, it will become apparent to patients that you are not just selling oral appliances. Your patients will immediately recognize and appreciate the staff’s genuineness. At this stage, it is a good idea to acquire screening forms and marketing collateral, such as brochures, posters, awareness stickers, etc., to help the Staff engage with patients inside the practice. Keep in mind that it is more important to empower the staff on an emotional level, than it is mandating a full understanding and exact medical terminology. Ask the staff to keep the conversations with patients brief but engaged. The dentist should provide the details about available oral appliance therapy in a consultation appointment.


Remember to not only focus marketing efforts to patients but to also consider fostering relationships with local physicians for referrals. Timing for engaging with physicians is important as it is best to have a few cases under your belt and feel confident on the process. At this level, implementing direct marketing campaigns, hosting physician study club lunches, newsletters, press releases, blogs, etc., are all good marketing strategies. My personal favorite is to set up an evening with your local library to host a discussion for the public about the dangers of untreated sleep apnea and CPAP alternatives. This seems to be s a win-win scenario in which the public receives information on a concerning Health issue, the dentist is recognized as an advocate on the subject by the community and local physicians, and often times new patients are secured all at the same time.


Having your own separate sleep website that is optimized for Google’s search engine is great but could be very time consuming and costly. Splash pages are also good but pay close attention to your cost per click and analytics of the campaign as this could quickly drain your marketing funds. For a faster, more efficient way to be found online, try associating your dental sleep practice with a large Sleep Website that already ranks well in Google. I would suggest trying and searching on Google for your target keywords such as, “CPAP alternatives” Or “curing sleep apnea”, etc., and see who pops up on the first page.

Social media has also opened up a large marketing window. Online communication through blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin can all be utilized to help spread the awareness of the dangers of the untreated sleep apnea and CPAP alternatives. Always keep the information current so your content is always fresh.


Consider television, radio and print advertising. Look into local sponsorship opportunities, such as health fairs and other community favorite events. Think about collaborative marketing and teaming up with other local businesses such as florists, restaurants, coffee shops, etc., where you offer special promotions To each others clients. Becoming invested in the community through advertisement, sponsorship programs, collaborative efforts, and lecturing opportunities offers many local promotional benefits.

In each of the four categories assess the value of the marketing opportunity and build your plan accordingly. Promote yourself and your practice through becoming an advocate within your area. Employ several marketing strategies within all the categories. Lean on available resources. Be smart about your time and marketing efforts and roadmap your plan to success.

Good luck on your sleep medicine journey!
Written by Elias Kalantzis for Sleep Group Solutions.
Sleep Group Solutions offers comprehensive dental continuing education courses focusing on the dental treatment of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. Our two day seminars are designed to teach dental and medical professionals proper protocols for identifying, diagnosing and treating this life threatening condition. SGS offers a complete suite of products to fit the needs of sleep physicians, ENT’s, primary care physicians and dentists. If you have patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) or are non-compliant with CPAP therapy you have come to the right place. See course schedule at Group Solutions

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In Episode 9 of Take Five With Marty, Dr. Marty Jablow discusses the many benefits of the “magical ingredient” xylitol with dental industry consultant, author and publisher, Shirley Gutkowski, RDH.


Shirley Gutkowski, coach of CareerFusion, is a dental hygienist who practiced full time general dental hygiene in Madison, WI from 1986 to 2003. She received her RDH from Madison Area Technical College and earned her Baccalaureate Degree in Dental Hygiene from Marquette University in 1999.

She’s author of the best selling series The Purple Guide, and brings with her a talent for the written word, self publishing experience, stage work and computer expertise.

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Take Five with Marty interviewing Linda Miles

In Episode 7 of Take Five With Marty, Dr. Marty Jablow discusses today’s dental practice management challenges with legendary dental consultant, Linda Miles. Linda also provides some recommendations regarding how to get patients back into the office regularly and grow your dental practice as a whole.

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