If a patient feels that you're not listening to them, they will leave your practice.

Recently I had a patient come in who told me she left her previous dentist because of untreated tooth pain. She had gone in two or three times to have it checked and the dentist would take a quick look and say they would look at it again on her next visit if it didn't get better.

After listening to her talk about the symptoms she was experiencing I ran a simple bite stick test and found that she had a fractured tooth. By taking the time to listen to this patient and doing a little exploration based on her reports, I was able to determine the problem and offer a solution.

I found the problem by listening to her, not because of my superior skills. All I did was have her bite on a stick and blow some air on her tooth. She didn't leave her previous dentist because of this tooth. The key was listening to her.

This patient also has multiple areas that she wants fixed but instead of finding a way to address her concerns, including the single fractured tooth, her previous dentist would just put her off – and not listen.

Darin O'Bryan DDS, www.onemorereasontosmile.com