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If You Must Speak, Ask Questions!

If You Must Speak, Ask Questions!

There are a triad of skills that dentists must master if they are to achieve their full potential. This triad is Diagnosis, Treatment Planning and Case Presentation. In these next couple of blog posts I will share some information that will help with the Case Presentation component.

If you have been following this blog you know that I am bullish on dentistry. Check out these two links:


However, as I am visiting dental offices as a practice coach I have noticed that many dentists have become timid in presenting ideal dentistry. Perhaps this is because it seems that many patients over the last few years have only wanted to do necessary dentistry. It’s understandable, really. If most patients only seem interested in necessary dentistry then it can be easy to assume that’s what everyone wants. If this is true for you, let me encourage you to change your perspective. Asking your patient these three questions will help.

Many years ago one of my mentors, Dr. Omer Reed, taught me the following axiom. He said when it comes to presenting dentistry, “If you must speak, ask questions”. There is great wisdom in this statement! Here are the three questions that will help guide patients to want more ideal care.

I hope that you are now using photography as a patient education tool ( As you begin to show your patient the photos ask the following question: “Linda, as you and I look at these photos together, do I have your permission to point out every area of concern that I see?Most patients will say, “yes”, and now you have their permission to provide a thorough diagnosis.

There are two more great questions to ask. These questions are very simple but there is beauty in their simplicity. Here you go. Linda, I have had a chance to look at the x-rays, study the pictures and also get an understanding from you about what is important. I have 2 simple, but important questions to ask. The first is; How healthy would you like to be? Then stop and let the patient respond. Most patients will say something like, “very healthy”. Then you can ask the next question, which is; “By when?” Most people will say, “soon”.

Keep in mind that these three questions are only effective when you have taken the time to establish trust and confidence with the patient. However If you have taken the time to develop a relationship with your patients these questions are extremely effective at helping them make dentistry a higher priority. Let me encourage you to become skilled at asking these questions. Your practice will benefit by providing more ideal care and best of all, you will be helping more patients enjoy the benefits of great oral health. Keep Smiling!