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Answering Idiotic Questions from Patients

Answering Idiotic Questions from Patients

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Posted on 04-18-2011

The question below came from a real newspaper advice column:

"Dear Abby, I have a man I can't trust. He cheats so much, I'm
not even sure the baby I'm carrying is his."

When we read things like this, our first instinct is to laugh out loud, followed by a second instinct of sharing the fun with someone else. By posting this, I've satisfied both urges.

But what do you do when a paying patient gives you a ridiculous question to answer? Suppose you have a patient that asks "I saw that Arm & Hammer has baking soda toothpaste. Does that mean that sodas like Coke and Pepsi are good for your teeth again?"

When this happens, it's hard to pass on the opportunity of laughing or shaking your head in disbelief. However, there are great rewards for calmly explaining to your patient the difference between baking soda and soda pop. People are often afraid of embarrassment when asking questions, and if you can be a "safe" dentist that will never judge a question, then you will be positioning yourself well above the competing dentists in your area.

People feel significantly more comfortable in an office where they won't be judged, so this leads to more visits and more referrals. Take the high road whenever possible.

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