How are you communicating with different types of patients that come into your dental office? How about when that elderly patient calls for an appointment, do we immediately offer a discount because of their age? Do we communicate differently with them? Are we willing to slow down and speak to their level of hearing and responding? Can they even hear us the way we hear them?  

Often times the elderly do have unique oral needs. Can they care for their mouth effectively? Is their diet high in carbohydrates? Combine that with an inability to effectively brush their teeth. Yikes! 

Do they have excessive and generalized root exposure that the saliva cannot protect? What are we willing to do as health care providers to help these folks?

The 50, 60 and 70 year olds likely have the most discretionary income of all other ages combined. According to dental trends, these folks are spending more of their saved dollars to look younger. How would you feel as their dentist to restore a 60+ year olds’ mouth back to function rather than ignore what you know needs to be addressed because of your own mindset that prevents you from telling them what is best for them… regardless of their age?

This is the very thing we focus on at AMP. Addressing the mindset of how we feel and why can make a drastic change in case presentation with changing just a few words and how we say them. Take a look at the next two scenarios;

  1. Mr. Jones is a 72 year old retired administrator coming to your practice for the first time. During his new patient interview and exam, he can hardly hear not only what you are saying but all the words said sound gibberish. He does not respond well to you looking down at him, speaking to him with your mask on. He says “no” to all treatment simply because he cannot understand one word you have said. Nor did he hear you well enough to understand.
  2. Mr. Jones is a 72 year old retired administrator coming in to your practice for the first time. As the assistant you notice hearing aids and ask Mr. Jones how well he can hear you. He pauses, thanks you for asking, and says as long as you speak slowly and clearly, he can hear everything. The key, he jokes, is slow. This information is then transferred to the Doc (at AMP we call that a handoff). Knowing this, the doc sits the patient upright, takes his mask off and talks eye to eye and knee to knee. The doc presents treatment to Mr. Jones, slowly, clearly and with laymen words. Mr. Jones accepts treatment and says, “ ya know, Doc, no dentist has ever spent the time with me the way you have. I have heard every word and treatment sounds like I better do this now while I am healthy.”

Reflect on these two different scenarios. Do we write funeral tickets for the elderly that come in for care or are we willing to offer them prudent treatment while they are healthy enough to enjoy many years to come? The answer is always no until you ask!

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