Is single-tooth treatment holding you back?

Sept. 9, 2010
Every practice that relies heavily on single-tooth treatment works very hard for its revenue. Dr. Roger Levin says transforming your office into a comprehensive practice will be one of the best business decisions you ever make, and he offers concrete steps to change your way of thinking and operating.

By Roger P. Levin, DDS

According to the 2010 DE/Levin Group Annual Practice Survey, 80% of procedures in GP offices are need-based. That figure speaks volumes about how dental practices operate. It also indicates one significant reason why many practices haven’t lifted themselves out of production declines as rapidly as they’d like.

As the latest survey results clearly demonstrate, practice production is still dominated by single-tooth treatment. Some dentists may be content to define their practices as “drill and fill,” but they should remember that single-tooth treatment means high volume and low profit. In addition, most dentists enjoy performing a variety of procedures. To maximize untapped potential production, it’s time to rethink case presentation.

Creating superior elective case presentations

In a single-tooth model, much of the patient motivation to accept treatment is there before you even speak with the patient. You’re often working with people who are in discomfort, and they may not need much inducement to proceed with treatment.

Elective services, by contrast, are not essential — a fact that patients already know. Choosing whitening or veneers is not a need-based decision, but rather an emotional one. Most patients have little interest in long explanations about the technical aspects of veneers or laminates. Only by stressing benefits can elective case presentations be effective.

Keep in mind that patients typically want to know exactly five things about an elective procedure:

  1. What is it?
  2. What will it do for me?
  3. How long will it take?
  4. Will it hurt?
  5. How much will it cost?

For successful elective case presentation, more time should be spent discussing how the patient will benefit from the treatment rather than the aspects of pain or cost. This is the only way to build value for an elective procedure. Levin Group recommends dentists allocate 60% of their time to explaining the benefits (“What will it do for me?”) with the rest evenly devoted to answering the other four questions mentioned above.

Staying true to this formula will result in increased case acceptance and allow your practice to grow and thrive the way you’ve always wanted.


Frankly speaking, every practice that relies heavily on single-tooth treatment is a practice that works very, very hard for its revenue. To transition to more elective procedures, you must take concrete steps to change your ways of thinking and operating. Transforming your office into a comprehensive practice will be one of the best business decisions you ever make.

Author bio
Roger P. Levin, DDS, is chairman and CEO of Levin Group, a leading dental management consulting firm that is dedicated to improving the lives of dentists through a diverse portfolio of lifetime services and solutions. Levin Group may be reached at (888) 973-0000, or