In over 18 years of practice, I have learned and developed some of the most effective patient one-liners to explain root canal treatment, success/failure, etc. These one-liners convey meaning and understanding to the patient in one quick and simple statement and end of saving me a lot of time. I would like to share 3 of my favorite one-liners that just seem to WORK. Patients rarely ask for more clarification after these statements.
There is a periodical radiolucency lesion present and the patient is asymptomatic and is unsure if they want to have a root canal. This is what I say, “You have a bone infection and we need to clean out the infection inside the tooth to to get healing of the bone.” Patients hate the term bone infection and equate it with bone cancer or an infection that may spread to the brain. This one-liner usually motivates the patient to have same-day treatment.
Patient has cold pain and the Dx is Irreversible pulpits (IP)/Symptomatic apical periodontitis. How do you explain that they need a root canal? I say with extreme confidence, “You need a root canal.” Revolutionary I know! Saying it with confidence just after testing the tooth or teeth and causing pain is usually all you need. Here is a follow up just in case it is needed (the sprained ankle analogy): “When you sprain your ankle the tissue at the ankle swells. It is the same inside the tooth. There is inflammation and swelling inside your tooth causing pain.”
I say this when I see a failed root canal- “Sometimes root canals come unsealed.” (I learned this from Ace Goerig and it is a great way to explain a failed root canal by another dentist or you without placing blame). I blamed myself for 15 years on anything that went wrong in dentistry and now have been shifting the blame to the tooth (unless I did something than I take ownership).
We have just added Newsletter #4 to our Resident Library, and it contains 32 productive patient management one liners, grouped by treatment category.
Happy Endo My Friends,