“Sample Scripts” for Effective Communication

by Dental Industry Speaker Karen Davis

Have you ever listened to what someone else says or how they say something and thought, “If only I could communicate like that!” or, “Wow, I wish I had a recorder to play back what they just said, and memorize it!”  The reality is, however, that the most effective communicators have simply mastered the art of speaking with confidence and sincerity.  Fortunately, those are skills that can be developed!

Effective communication combines active listening, practicing the art of being clear and concise, and often requires the use of visuals for clarity.  Verbal skills and semantics, while important, are not nearly as important as your own body language and tone of voice. That communicates your level of sincerity and confidence. Communication is simply a way of connecting.  If we wish to genuinely connect with our patients we need let go of our own agenda, and replace being “right” with being in relationship.   That, very often requires being willing to set instruments aside, get the patient in an upright position, and really listen.  The benefit of doing so, adds to the patient’s perception they have been understood, which by the way, when absent, is one of the leading reasons why patients leave and go somewhere else!

The following “sample scripts”, if memorized, will sound artificial, insincere, and canned!  If, however, the concepts or ideas are internalized they can assist you toward a goal of effectively communicating clear and concise messages with your patients.  Notice the use of many open-ended questions.  This is an art that has to be practiced, and often role-played among team members in order to feel natural, but it is the MOST effective way to really discover your patient’s values, desires, and concerns.


“I only want to do this if insurance pays for it.  How much of this is covered by my insurance?”

 “Well, that is a good question.  I really don’t know exactly what your insurance will assist with for this type of procedure…The amount of assistance actually depends upon the contract between the employer and the insurance company.  I can tell you that many of our patients have experienced around 40 – 50% assistance for this type of treatment. (Or whatever percentage is appropriate for the procedure.)  I can certainly understand that you may wish to call and get a better estimate of your own insurance benefits so you will have an idea of what to anticipate, HOWEVER, what I am really interested in John, is WHETHER OR NOT this is the type of treatment you want for yourself right now?

“Well, I don’t know.  Your fees are so high I don’t know if I can afford all of this, or if I really even need it!”

 “Yes, John you probably have noticed our fees are higher that “average” dental care.  Our commitment to our patients is to offer only what we would recommend for ourselves, or any of our family members.  At the same time, I can appreciate your concern about the significant investment! We base our fees on the expertise of the doctor and team, the state-of-the-art technology and materials we use, and our on-going commitment to stay abreast of current research. We really do want to provide the best care possible to all our patients.”

“Does your office file the insurance so that I only have to pay you the balance?”

“What we have found is when the patient, who owns the insurance benefit, manages their own insurance as opposed to us becoming the third party, the insurance benefit is reimbursed directly to the patient much faster. We will give you ALL of the necessary information to drop the claim in the mail.  We ask that you pay us at the time of treatment, and manage your own insurance claims for your reimbursement. That way our primary focus really is on your dental health, and not on processing insurance claims.”


“Gee, I think I am going to want a second opinion.  Last time I was here no one said anything about needing all this treatment, and besides, NOTHING is bothering me!”

 “You know John, you may wish to seek and second opinion and we would certainly respect that.  My only concern is that you carefully select a practice that is equally committed to staying abreast of the latest technology and information available as Dr. Wonderful.  Perhaps the reason this may sound so abrupt to you is because since the last time you were here our office has participated in numerous continuing education hours specific to this treatment, and what we now know is that it IS in your best interest for us to provide this treatment BEFORE there are any symptoms, and the possible need for more extensive OR costly treatment…Too often in the past, we let symptoms be the guide as to when to proceed, but clearly EARLY detection and EARLY treatment is how we can expect to achieve the best results for optimal dental health long-term!


“John, the doctor has diagnosed a 3 month interval for your supportive periodontal care.  In order to see you at that time, I would like to reserve an appointment for you.  I have either Thursday, November 11th at 10:00 a.m., or Monday, November 15th at 1:00 p.m.  Which time would work best for you?”

“Well, I don’t know what my schedule is. Just send me a card!”

“John, I can appreciate that, however, we have found if our patients wait to call us until after they receive a postcard, our schedules are completely full! Then, you risk having to wait until it is beyond the diagnosed interval for your next preventive treatment!  Especially if you prefer a specific time of day, I’d like to go ahead and reserve an appointment. Two weeks prior to your appointment, we will verify your time with a post-card. If, for any reason, you cannot make it at the time we reserve today, call us when you receive your postcard and we will put you on our PRIORITY LIST for the first opportunity available in the schedule.”


“Oh John, I am so sorry to hear you have a conflict during the appointment time reserved for you…  The next available time I have to offer you is…two months from now, and I know that is way beyond the interval diagnosed for you! (Pause, wait for response)  Is there ANY way you could re-arrange your schedule, or anything I could do to assist you in keeping this appointment?” (Pause)

“No not really.  Gosh, I can’t believe you don’t have anything open before that!”

“I’m sorry John.  What I CAN do, is go ahead and schedule you with my next available appointment on… (A minimum of at least 6 weeks out.)Wed. March 3rd at 9:00 a.m. In addition, I can put you on my PRIORITY LIST to call if there is a change in the schedule between now and then.”

(Refrain from offering the “first opening” in the schedule upon a cancellation!  Use it as an opportunity to build value regarding the appointments and “re-train” short-notice cancellers.  Even if you have to call the patient back within the hour to fill tomorrow’s openings, that double work with the “Good news!  A change in the schedule!” is necessary in order to end the “easy-to-schedule-easy-to-RE-SCHEDULE-cycle” that plagues so many dental hygiene departments.)


“I’ve been coming here a long time. Why does the doctor want me to come back for a comprehensive exam?”

“That is a good question.  You know if you were a new patient in our practice today, we would share with you all of the exiting options we now have available to whiten smiles, change the shape and appearance of a smile, and even restore teeth with materials that blend into the natural color of the tooth and actually add strength!  What Dr. Wonderful wants to do is simply set aside time to thoroughly re-examine your mouth and discuss any possibilities you might be interested in to either enhance your smile, or improve the function of your teeth for optimal dental health.  How does that sound?”

“I really don’t have time to come back for a comprehensive exam with the doctor.”

“I can certainly appreciate how busy your schedule is!  Interestingly, that is one of the very reasons you should have a comprehensive exam!  By doing so, together you and the doctor can evaluate how to best prevent untimely broken teeth, or unexpected toothaches from your teeth that have worn restorations and are showing significant break down.”


“My gums never bleed at home…only when I come here and you poke around with those sharp instruments.”

“I can understand how it might seem to you like what we are doing is actually causing the bleeding!  In reality though, healthy tissue doesn’t bleed with brushing, flossing or while we measure pockets.  Bleeding is the earliest possible warning sign that infection is developing as a result of more bacteria and toxins beneath the surface than your own immune system can handle.  The problem is that since floss only reaches 2 or 3 millimeters beneath the surface, often, early stages of the disease go undetected UNLESS you have a screening that can detect bleeding tendency and accompanying disease beneath the surface. Does that make sense?”

“I just want my teeth cleaned.  I’ll wait and see how everything looks in 6 months.”

“If you had infection anywhere else in your body, would you want to wait to have it treated, knowing it could permanently destroy supporting bone…without ANY symptoms?”

“We now know, the way we used to treat early signs of infection with more emphasis on better brushing and more flossing doesn’t really treat the source of infection.  The toxins, embedded in the pockets, require total debridement and therapeutic treatment in order to shift the bacterial environment to one that is conducive to health.”

“For 10 years I’ve been coming in every 6 months. Why the sudden change to 3 months, especially after all that therapy for my gums?”

“We now know stress and the immune system have much to do with a person’s susceptibility to disease. It can directly affect how quickly or slowly one person versus another responds to therapy, as well as the interval necessary following therapy to prevent disease from reoccurring.  Once we have the infection under control the goal is to prevent additional infection and bone destruction. For most individuals it is necessary to disrupt disease-causing toxins every 3 months in order to prevent bleeding and disease activity in pockets.  Numerous studies have shown 3 month intervals to be effective in preventing bone loss and preventing decay.  There is no scientific evidence supporting 6 month intervals to control disease.”

To learn more about sample scripts and why they are important for your staff – call her today at (972) 669-1555.