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61 – Practice Principle Number One

Hi there. You are listening to the Perio Patient Podcast, a podcast for my patients and anyone else who cares to listen. My name is Dr. Ben Young and I am a periodontist in private practice in San Antonio, Texas. This is podcast
episode 61 and I have entitled it “Practice Principle Number One.”

If this is your first time listening, then welcome. These podcasts come out of either what is going on in my practice at the moment or something interesting I am studying that I think you might find interesting. Recently I had what I will simply describe as a disappointment. It was an infection following a procedure. I am purposely keeping it vague to protect patient confidentiality – but also for what I want to talk about it really doesn’t matter.

It helps to represent a reality – that sometimes things don’t turn out the way we hope they will. This is just one of the challenges when treating human beings. Sometimes people get sick and sometimes their timing might coincide with a procedure they are having – and one affects the other. My point is that some of the care we provide as providers or receive as patients are not completely in our control or even in the other person’s control. But regardless the reason, we end up with a result that disappoints. In this particular case, it resulted in the failure of a dental implant.

So what does this have to do with the title of this episode – Practice Principle Number One? It’s because this principle, when followed enables both me and the patient to continue to work together in spite of setbacks.

This first of three principles I will share with you over the next three podcasts I simply call Clear Communication. Now understand, my training as a dentist obviously involved learning to communicate with patients and others, but it was not thought of then as I think of it now. My opinion as to its importance in patient care has simply deepened over time. The talking and writing skills I entered dental school with I later left with because that was not the focus of the training I received. And yet, ever since it has repeatedly been brought home to me that if I fail to explain clearly enough for patients to be able to be comfortable with the decisions they will make, then it will affect the treatment I am then able to provide them.

Out of this came a decision that if I was going to provide additional time with patients, it would not be at times where treatment was to be delivered. In those visit, I would strive to move smoothly and efficiently and enable patients to come and leave as scheduled. No, instead, I would schedule more open time with the patient at the first visit because this is the best time to figure out what the problems are, what treatment options make sense and then to discuss all of this in enough detail for the patient to feel they have been listened to and had their questions answered.

I have found the approach to work well but I have also found that it does not fit the needs of every patient. Some patients don’t want to talk much and others have a great deal to talk about. Until their needs are individually met to their satisfaction, periodontal therapy will not turn out as good for them as it potentially could be. So, this is where podcasts and blogs on the website as well as the occasional YouTube video can help enable patients to get as much as they desire and to learn at their own pace. It is also why it is critical that I am not the only clear communicator in my office. My team members were selected because they have abilities to communicate and reach people in ways I cannot.

Next time we will get into my practice principle number two. This has been the Perio Patient Podcast and I am still Dr. Ben Young. Thanks for listening. Bye for now.