Every day in our practices and with each one of our patients, our ability to communicate impacts our success immensely. Not only are we able to do what we do best when our patients understand things, we also help them truly realize what it is that we are trying to do for them.

We have to develop a unique "language" for each one of our patients, as they all tend to "hear" things differently. But as I have recently transitioned into a different practice, I have had to find a way to communicate differently as the "new guy" with all of my new patients.

One language that I found to be "universal" no matter who the patient is or how many times they have been talked to about a particular tooth or concern is to use a picture—it really is worth a 1,000 words.

During a recent exam with a physician (yes, a medical doctor that can fully understand most of our dental dialect) we took a few quick photos to show them the condition of their teeth. Afterwards they he let us know that while he understood what I was saying, seeing the pictures made it clear why he needed to act on it now. He also thanked us for taking the time to show them photos. This was a profound discussion that made me realize that photos not only communicate better than we do, they often evoke an emotional response as well.

You or your team members can take small intraoral photos quickly and easily but you can also take photos showing the smile and all of the teeth in one arch or quadrant. The bottom line is if you want to take your practice to another level you have to start using the universal language: photography.

Jeff Lineberry, DDS Visiting Faculty [www.jefflineberrydds.com]