Get Personal … You’re Doing That Anyway

You can never truly stay out of patients’ business when you’re a dentist.

I’m not saying your profession is full of busy bodies, but you’re involved in people’s lives in such an intimate way … their look … their image … their expression in the world.

Maybe you think this exaggerates how your work impacts lives, but the appearance of teeth influences romantic relationships, careers and even self-esteem.

And since you’re already enmeshed in such a personal space, you might as well kick off your shoes, recline in a chair and make yourself at home. Getting to know more about your patients is not only good for forging meaningful connections with them, it makes perfectly good business sense.

Now, this doesn’t mean jumping in and asking about divorces and kids’ behaviors. Actually, over time, these issues may naturally pop up. But it’s about gauging a person’s demeanor and simply being human.

Late-night laughter worked …

I remember a while ago, my dentist performed a minor procedure on me. I was clearly nervous, I think I was even shaking. In my attempts to calm down, I pulled up highlights from the previous night’s airing of the Tonight Show. According to some friends, it was especially funny.

My dentist noticed what was playing on my smartphone and very naturally struck up a conversation about Jimmy Fallon and the string of late night show hosts. At that time, Arsenio Hall was promoting his comeback to midnight-and-munchies royalty. That spin-off discussion alone got my mind off drilling and scraping woes.

Keeping their mouths open and their hearts stirred…

You’re probably wondering how all this chatting could happen while the good doc was working his magic. But much can be discussed between rinsing and through careful, half-annunciated utterances with a mirror in one’s mouth.

It’s all good – really. Anything to distract me from the shaving of teeth, the tiny blood river forming in my mouth and the jaw swelling I was bound to witness after everything was over.

So that was my situation and the personalized care I needed from my dentist to hold it together. Think about your patients. Their individual personalities and what you might offer to make them feel more comfortable. Maybe good conversation? An article clipping concerning their passion?

Whatever you do, know it doesn’t have to be fancy, just familiar.