Dr. Chris Baker's groundbreaking book, Your Child's Smile, is a guide for dentists treating children, orthodontists, and for parents concerned with their child's dental health.
Dentists, you know the story: A patient comes in and you're asked to “finish” an already-begun orthodontic treatment. The mother says, “We only have four months left,” or something like that.
So, you look at the patient, wanting to please the parent, and wanting to take the case (you ARE in business to make money as well as care for patients).
Yet you think, “I have NO idea what this patient’s remaining treatment will entail - it sure looks like a lot more than four months, and I don’t know where they started.” When you look at the records the parent presents you, they are not a lot of help.
You hate to commit to anything just yet. What do you do right now, as the mother and her cute little girl are waiting to hear your response???
What you do know:
What you don’t know (the "Accursed Unknowns"):
*Note: It’s important for you to understand, that you can ONLY do a great job for your patients if you can love them as you interact and treat them. This goes for patients AND parents. So, if the parents’ needs, personalities and expectations are not easy for you to meet and love, it will be very difficult for you to treat them.
It is best for both you and your patients and their parents, that you work to identify if the relationship can work, or if it may not. Do NOT take them on as patients if you have doubts.
So, as to transfer orthodontic patients. The typical answer by many-to-most orthodontic practitioners, to a transfer patient/parent is something along the line of “I don’t take transfer patients,” or “We’ll have to take the braces off and start over,” or “I have no idea what your previous practitioner was doing/thinking…”
Why this answer? Because of the “Accursed Unknowns” and our own "inside-the-box" thinking.
The problem with us and orthodontics is that, as engineers and artists, we get so stuck in our idea of what we've learned and what our "system" is, that we have a hard time thinking "outside our box."
The dentist's approach to orthodontics is often so formulaic that he/she never looks outside the box. Sometimes the best treatment for an orthodontic patient IS outside that box.
In my next blog, I will tell you what to do as the mother and cute girl are waiting to hear your response, to wit, how to how to take (most) transfer orthodontic patients and enjoy them; how to charge them so they don’t feel taken advantage of; and you don’t feel taken advantage of; and how to work with and communicate the unknown amount of treatment time left.
Dr Chris Baker
Dr. Chris Baker is Past President of the American Orthodontic Society, a pediatric dentist and teacher of orthodontics, An author, dental practice consultant, mentor, and a current or former faculty member of three U.S. dental schools, Dr Chris practices and blogs in beautiful Abu Dhabi, UAE, and glorious Texas, USA.
Text and images
© 2019 Dr Chris Baker