Words have a powerful effect on perception. Are you selling yourself short when it comes to describing your practice or your services? Patients visit you because they trust you to be open, honest, and experienced in communicating the condition of their oral health in a way they will understand. To accomplish this effectively, you need to be mindful of your word choice.
“Check Up” or “Comprehensive Examination”
A “check up” sounds menial and unimportant. You might say you take your car in for a “check up” or “tune up.” Oral health care is diminished when it is referred in this way. Use the more professional sounding “comprehensive examination.” This emphasizes the fact that you and your team are doing a lot more than just checking the mouth and teeth. You are looking for signs of decay and oral cancer, providing a thorough cleaning, and offering recommendations for additional treatments. That’s a lot more than a “check up.”
Don’t use this phrase when leading into a diagnosis. “Just a cavity,” or “just a little inflammation,” minimizes the importance for action. Your patient might heed this as permission to wait on further treatment. The public is often not aware of the importance of their oral health and how oral diseases can spread, worsen, and lead to other painful and costly problems. Be clear with patients when making a diagnosis, but never make it sound unimportant or that it can wait.
“Bleaching” is Not Synonymous with “Whitening”
When describing whitening treatments to patients, it may sound like a natural choice to use the word “bleaching.” Avoid using this term. To some patients, this may imply bleach is used in the whitening process. It also sounds far more painful than “whitening.” Using the term “Bleaching” sounds dangerous, or that it involves the use of harsh chemicals. “Whitening” is an ideal term to use as it also serves as a description for what patients can expect after treatment – a whiter smile.
Word choice matters. Patients are relying on you for information about their health. Be clear, be concise, and be honest with your patients. The public’s perception of dental professionals is not always positive. Clear communication is one way to bridge the gap between your team and your patients. Show your value to your patients by choosing strong words to describe your services, and avoid minimizing the importance of your work.