June 28, 2022
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If I had a nickel for every time I heard that. How about you?

Seinfeld referred to such people as “Anti-Dentites”. I think most people are afflicted.

The news is also replete with stories about Inflation, Guns, Abortion and other supercharged issues that are stark reminders that we, as human beings, are primarily ruled by emotions.

Our limbic system, otherwise known as the paleomammalian brain, is hard wired into our other systems. The 2 main components, the Hippocampus and Amygdala, support functions such as EMOTION, BEHAVIOR, LONG-TERM MEMORY and OLFACTION. The mere position of these structures show just how comprehensively they communicate with the rest of the brain and directly with other organs throughout the body such as the adrenal glands and controls the stress response via the limbic-pituitary-adrenal axis.

Want to know why patients dislike the dentist? Look no further than the limbic system. It provides the cause and the answers to enable you to overcome the deep-seated FEAR that so many people have about dentistry.

Granted, dentists have come a long way to overcome some of these issues. Few practices SMELL from eugenol, which used to be known as “the dental-office smell”. Young children now require fewer procedures that might cause long-term memories that are traumatic. And, as a society we’ve done a good job promoting the habit (another limbic-system, mediated behavior) of brushing your teeth twice a day and seeing your dentist twice a year. Thank-you Claude C. Hopkins who was responsible for the Pepsodent ads that changed America’s oral hygiene habits.

But interaction with Dentistry, for most people, draws upon the Limbic System and long-term memories that might present a roadblock to health-enhancing action.

As much as we’d like to think that our THINKING can overcome any of these PALEO functions, they seem to creep into our lives in subtle ways. Appreciating just how we are wired, can help us in our own lives and certainly while interacting with patients or even prospective ones, through our messaging, otherwise known as MARKETING.

What can make a person overcome their limbic fears?

A process called the “Limbic Dump” has been described by Michael Vallis and Arya Sharma. It acknowledges that before getting into a “rational encounter”, it makes sense to overcome the limbic system’s roadblocks, which are based on emotions such as anxiety, apprehension, fear, disappointment, and frustration. They posit that unless these are first unpacked, unloaded and confronted, any doctor-patient interaction, which relies on the cognitive or “logical’ part of the brain can be derailed.

Their system of overcoming limbic inhibition, involves allowing a patient to first, “dump” their concerns on the table, fully acknowledging them, and discussing their relevance in the current situation.

Without a “limbic dump” patients are actually unable to listen to what is being said. Their limbic system puts up a protective curtain and initiates the ‘fight or flight” system.

Interestingly, the limbic system also controls PLEASURE (via dopamine). When this part of the system is activated, it can create a powerful, almost magnetic draw to a desired outcome.

Limbic Messaging can result in a more patient-attracting, health-promoting and financially rewarding practice.

Here are the areas where LIMBIC MESSAGING can be deployed to encourage the patient through the patient-flow pathway.

1. Marketing campaigns
2. Referral generation
3. Website design and content
4. The first encounter (phone of other)
5. The in-office encounter
6. The diagnostic process
7. The treatment presentation
8. The financial presentation
9. The treatment process
10. The treatment completion and future follow-up

The statistics for the national average for treatment acceptance is 35%.

Pathetic, because we as professional know that people NEED what we’re presenting. Yet, 65% of the time, as a profession, we are unable to convince people to proceed with care.

“Can I afford this?” Is a limbic question based on the fear of being in ‘need’ of something else and not being able to get it. An equivalency is then calculated, with an emotional value placed that determines priorities. Might such a FEAR be channeled to a different FEAR or to a PLEASURABLE DESIRE?

We refer to this process as ‘converting NEEDS into WANTS’. It is a limbic, neuro-based process that can be learned, practiced, and incorporated into the entire patient-flow pathway.

Doing so will positively impact each area and help overcome FEAR and OBJECTIONS that are impediments to forward progress, health, wellness, and POSITIVE OUTCOMES.

We reviewed some of these principles in our last Coffee With The Coach Webinar, which focused on the symptom of INCREASING CANCELLATION RATES and actions that can be taken to treat this profit-erosive disease.

Want access to the replay and other valuable resources?


To your excellent messaging,

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Dr. Michael Goldberg is one of the leading educators on dental practice management in the United States.

Michael ran and sold a prestigious group practice in Manhattan and has been on Faculty at Columbia University and New York-Presbyterian Medical Center for 30 years including Director of the GPR program and Director of the course on Practice Management.

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