Patients have a tendency to have a specific dominant sense. Eye cues are ascertained by the emotion and the language they use.
If you refer to the diagram above, you could ask a patient how the last dental visit was. If they immediately move their eyes upwards and towards the left, they are said to be in the visual domain. Their use of language will reflect to this so they might say that their dentist came at them with a large needle and the dentist was wearing a horrible surgical mask.
On the other hand, if the patient moves their eyes across and to the left, this use gives the language as auditory. They may say things such as saying that the dentist started shouting at them and the dentist was really abrupt. The patient may also say that the dentist was banging the instruments on the table and the noise of the drill was unbearable.
If the patient moves their eyes towards the right and the bottom corner, they are thinking in the kinesthetic domain so they may be saying that I felt absolutely horrible and I was sweating buckets. They could also say that the dentist was really rough.
As a dentist, it is imperative to recognise the predominant domain of the baseline position so that the dentist can also use the best communication skills for the patient.
This is also useful for patients who are also not nervous of the dentist. A visual patient will predominantly be interested in the appearance of their teeth however a kinaesthetic patient will be more inclined to how the mouth and their teeth feel.
Let’s look at how a dentist can use these signals in the effective treatment of the patient. It is best to use examples in order to demonstrate this.
If a patient moves their eyes towards the left and upwards, we already know that they are in the visual remembered stage. You can ask the patient if they remember something and they will automatically look upwards and to the right.
Next we can examine a patient who looks towards the left and straight across. They are in the auditory remembered state. We can ask the patient the questions such as what did he say, how does that sound to you and perhaps would you like some earplugs when you are having your dental treatment.
When a patient is talking and thinking to themselves, they will move their eyes across and to the right so they are in the auditory construction stage. It is important that as a dentist, we give them enough time to think through things.
If a patient moves their eyes upwards and towards the right, we know that this patient is visually receptive and they will engage with you through diagrams and pictures. They will be especially impressed if you can show them before and after pictures.
If a patient moves their eyes towards the right and towards the bottom, we know that they are in the kinesthetic mode. Important questions and method of engaging with these patients is to ask questions such as how they feel, are they comfortable and relaxed, and they should put their hand up if they want to stop and have a rest at anytime.