How to Boost Compliance Among Your Orthodontic Patients

Satish Pai, DDS, MS

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Patient noncompliance is a major concern when it comes to orthodontic practices. It not only limits the rate of conversion of treatment plans into successful and satisfactory results but also dents a hole in your profits if your patients leave dissatisfied.

Compliance depends on the frequency, duration, and complexity of the required behaviors. Also, since most orthodontic treatments may last for as long as 36 months, sustaining compliance levels becomes challenging.

Here are some of the most effective ways in which you can turn noncompliance into compliance and even boost it to make your orthodontic practice successful.

New Trends 

Keep yourself updated with the new trends in orthodontics invented to help orthodontists overcome patient noncompliance. These latest techniques are designed to improve the overall efficiency of the orthodontic treatment process.

For instance, orthodontic anchorage control has evolved tremendously. Temporary anchorage devices (TADs) are easy and painless to place in the patient’s mouth. They also provide a secure anchor in the jawbone for molars and other teeth to restrict unwanted movement. Such techniques can increase patient compliance greatly.

Patient-Centric Care

Your practice should adopt patient-centric care rather than practitioner-centric care. Practitioners often make the mistake of labeling patients “noncompliant” if they fail to follow prescribed instructions without considering their expectations, motivations, and capabilities. This is what mostly happens when you are providing practitioner-centric care.

In a patient-centric approach, treatment plans are prescribed based solely on the individual’s expectations, capabilities, and motivation. A satisfied patient tends to be more compliant with treatment recommendations.

To establish a patient-centric approach in your practice, you can start with testing your patients’ knowledge regarding their dental problem, negotiate reasonable goals, generate options, decide on mutually decide on feasible treatment and payment, and screen them for readiness.

Educating your patients is one of the most crucial components of a patient-centric approach. If established successfully, a patient-centric approach can prove to be a powerful catalyst for patient compliance. 

Appropriate Education 

It is crucial that your patients understand the nature of their oral health and the suggested orthodontic treatment. Most patients either have limited or no knowledge about their orthodontic problem and are not clear about their treatment goals. All these factors often drive noncompliance.

Hence, it is important that you make strong efforts to educate your patients about the condition of their oral health, which will eventually allow them to make informed choices. This approach makes them feel involved, and the chances of compliance increase greatly. 

Aesthetic Advantage

You must tap into this factor to improve patient compliance. Most people seek orthodontic treatment with the primary goal of enhanced aesthetics. This is because most individuals associate dentofacial attractiveness with overall persona and, in turn, their confidence and self-esteem.

You may have noticed during your consultations that your patients often comment on their hesitation to smile confidently because of misaligned dentition. In such cases, assurance and education about the nature of prescribed treatment can help tremendously. You can use this factor to motivate your patients and reduce noncompliance before or during the treatment. 

Patient-Orthodontist Relationship

Your practice often can get really busy, but it is important that you make conscious efforts to increase and improve communication with your patients. Your patients should feel that you and your team understand their orthodontic requirements better and are eager to address their queries and concerns. Making your patients feel welcome is also equally important and is sure to have a positive impact on patient compliance.  

Rewards 

Rewarding small instances of compliance with prescribed instructions can prove to be a great way to motivate your patients and encourage compliance. You can set up a reward program that covers the various factors of an orthodontic treatment such as never missing an appointment and following a prescribed oral hygiene routine.

Patients can be scored on each parameter, and the highest scorers can be rewarded as you deem fit. Since such rewards mean positive feedback for your patients, you are bound to experience an increase in compliance. 

Your Turn

Combine all of these strategies and integrate them into your orthodontic practice, and you are bound to see definite growth in patient compliance and more happy faces stepping out of your clinic. 

Dr. Pai, an Ivy League trained dentist and a member of the faculty at Columbia University, believes that a perfect smile not only makes a person look great but also feel great while boosting confidence. As the founder of Putnam Orthodontics, he is dedicated to creating perfect smiles for his patients as well as educating people with his engaging articles about all things related to a perfect smile and oral health. Spending time with his family always brings a smile to his face. In his free time, you can find him golfing, doing yoga, or surfing. He can be reached at drp@putnamorthodontics.com.

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