How to Improve Dental Case Acceptance

I hear frustration all the time from doctors about patients not accepting treatment. While I understand their frustration, I also look at things differently perhaps than most do. When I look at patients from a psychology standpoint, I think you can divide the population into two groups: those that appreciate and want cosmetic dentistry and those that don't. I am going to approach both groups differently.

First let's examine how people in general think about making changes. Tony Robbins often states that people make decisions to either avoid pain or gain pleasure. "Its not actual pain that drives us but our fear that something will lead to pain. Its not actual pleasure that drives us but our belief - our certainty - that somehow taking action will lead to pleasure." I think this applies perfectly to what I am discussing here. The portion of the population that isn't interested in cosmetic dentistry will often make decisions based on pain avoidance or to solve a current pain. I hear stories all the time from dentists that their patients won't accept dental treatment because it doesn't hurt yet. This fits perfectly with Tony Robbins' theory. Once these patients become convinced it will hurt, they accept treatment to avoid the pain. "Becoming convinced" is the key to this population. I would say it is safe to say that they don't believe they have a problem. If they did, I think they would do something to avoid it. Therein lies the problem of ignorance. The offices that usually tell me these stories aren't using any tools to help educate their patients such as intra oral cameras. Some of the population can be very skeptical and looking for proof to believe. I am certain that using an intra oral camera with the patients will make a significant difference regarding acceptance. I am not claiming that it will solve this problem, just greatly improve it.

When doing your presentation I have found a few statements and metaphors to be very helpful with this matter. My favorite is "I cannot predict the future but can tell you that TODAY your dentistry will cost the least and hurt the least. If you put off treatment, it will get worse and cost more." I find that simple statement to be powerful for people avoiding making decisions. I also find using the metaphor of a car warranty to be powerful. When you purchase a new car your bumper to bumper warranty is generally contingent upon you changing the oil regularly. We all understand if you don't change the oil, you will break the engine. Similarly if you put off the small repairs within your mouth, they will lead to far more expensive repairs. Decay rarely goes away!! Typically it gets worse. By explaining this to your patients in terms they can easily relate to, you will see a significant increase in acceptance.

Now for the other portion of the population that loves cosmetic dentistry, we need to take a different approach. These people love pleasure. They eat at nice restaurants, drink nice wine, and drive very nice vehicles. They love the finer things in life. In this case we want to talk all about the pleasure they will derive as an outcome of your treatment on them. A person driving a BMW clearly isn't looking for the cheapest car to get from point A to point B. They are looking for the Ultimate Driving Machine!! I think with this group of people we should always offer our best treatment. We aren't in the business of financial advising to our patients but rather making them healthy. You shouldn't concern yourself with their financial issues, just propose good oral health to them. Regarding what to say to them, keep it simple. We had one client we were working with that had a patient they had suggested some implant work to a while back and the patient hadn't accepted it. I suggested this doctor simply tell this 50 something female patient when he was done with her she would have the smile of a 20 year old girl. Want to guess the outcome? For this group of people, I would show many before after pictures demonstrating the profound impact that your dentistry has on their appearance. Keep it simple and discuss the emotional outcome that your treatment will result in.

Lastly, I think too often we paint with a broad brush that the non-cosmetic group will never be interested. I think this couldn't be further from the truth. Now that being said, I do agree many won't ever, but I think it is possible to upgrade half of this group if presented effectively. Along with what we already discussed here, I would also give them choices. "Darren here is our best treatment option for your condition. Here is our second best, which do you prefer?" It is their choice, but I think the majority of prideful Americans will choose the best!! We are just that way as a society, we don't like second best.

If you would like to discuss how to improve your dental case acceptance, give me a call to schedule a free consult.  Watch the video below on this topic, you might find it helpful.

Darren Kaberna


Connect with Darren on Google+