“Will They Like Me?… Will I Like Them? – Anatomy of a New Patient.”

by Dr. Max Zaslavsky

On a daily basis, I diagnose and advise patients on their dental needs and concerns. For the most part we have wonderful existing patients, some of whom are probably reading this article right now.

The completely new patient however is different. It’s like a first date. Will they like me? Will I like them? Yes, I said it; I don’t always like all of my patients. But like dating, patient relationships are similar. Some patients don’t like me at first (simply because I am a dentist), but give me a try, and land up becoming completely loyal. Some patients I like immediately turn out to become people for whom I cringe when they walk into the office. Relationships take time to build.

Take for example patient Melissa who walked into my office 18 months ago. She came in initially with a broken tooth emergency. The broken tooth was easy to fix, but you know, teeth don’t walk in just by themselves, people do. Melissa had a lot of questions before I could even touch her. I think answering all her questions took about 30-45 minutes. And in a busy office, allotting that much time for a sudden emergency is tough (generally we schedule accordingly for the new patient exam 90 minutes to cover any and all topics).

And guess what? On her second visit she had even more questions. Her 3rd, and 4th visits brought even more questions, each time further behind schedule. These days, since we know her a little better, we schedule accordingly. This is not about complaining about this wonderful patient, but rather to learn as my Fort Lauderdale dental office grew that my staff and I needed to get to know her a little better. She had a series of poor dental treatments. None of which was her fault. A plethora of poorly done crowns, root canals, etc., from another office – with infections present throughout her mouth. She was truly (and rightfully so) frightened due to her previous experiences. Of course she was going to ask questions about anything that needed to be done, from the emergency visit to the present. Now when she walks in, I look forward to her visits. She is a superstar when coming into my office.

“Is your friend a dentist? - No, he says."

“I’m doomed from the start because a “friend” told them how horrible it’s going to be.” ~ Dr. Max

Sometimes a new patient relationship is never even given a chance. “Friends” are the worst enemy. God help me if someone needs a root canal or a tooth pulled. I’m doomed from the start because a “friend” told them how horrible it’s going to be. Heck, I had a patient who needed her bridge re-cemented, and his friend told him how horrible it would be to re-cement a couple of crowns. I asked, “Is your friend a dentist?” He said “no.” Of course the friend isn’t a dentist. They never are. The friend is anything but a dentist.  Did your friend come to my office? He replied, “no.” So I asked him to give our office a chance. He allowed me to do the treatment that day, but I never saw him again. He needed a lot of other work, but even said he only comes in when it hurts. Sometimes you try to educate patients, but the “friend” tends to know more than my years in school. Hey, what can you do?

I think what needs to be taken out of the new patient experience is that a lot of different personalities come into my office. As I said earlier, people walk into my office, not just teeth (and sometimes people walk in with no teeth). Some patients take time to come around. You may not see them for a year or two, and then one day they will be ready to come in and do treatment. Some will go for a second opinion, whereas some will wait until it becomes an emergency. What sparks one patient to get treatment may not be the same for someone else, but our office is here for you. Now it’s your turn.

Leave your comments below. I’d love to hear what you think.

Dr. Max Zaslavsky is a dentist in Fort Lauderdale. His office accepts emergencies and is equipped with the latest technology to provide a better patient experience. When Dr. Max is not working with patients, or continuing his professional development, he enjoys watching a Marlins game, going to the gym and attending live music events in the South Florida area.

Dr. Max Zaslavsky – who has written posts on Dentist Fort Lauderdale FL – Dr. Max Zaslavsky, DMD.


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Max Zaslavsky DMD

Dentist in Fort Lauderdale
6451 N. Federal Highway, Ste. 129 Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308
Latitude: 26.2075996 Longitude: -80.10801679999997
Phone: (954) 491-3544