Stop overwhelming your dental patients and focus on essential treatment first

Many dental patients are looking for any excuse not to receive dental care. Overwhelming them with details of complex treatment needed will give them another excuse not to visit the dentist. Start simple and watch their appreciation.

Content Dam Diq Online Articles 2018 01 Dentist With Patient 1
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When new patients visit your practice, you’re as thorough as possible. You conduct new-patient interviews to learn about their wants and needs, you complete comprehensive exams to identify any problems, and you put together treatment plans detailing all the work they might possibly need. Then you wonder why you never hear from them again.

While every exam should be thorough, telling new patients about all the dental work they’ll want to consider can leave them feeling overwhelmed, which is why I suggest that you focus on essential treatment first.

Spend time educating patients about their most immediate dental issues, such as caries, periodontal disease, or fractured teeth, and how you can help them correct those issues. Let patients know you offer other services that can improve their smile and their overall health, and that you’ll be happy to go into more detail about those options after the most serious issues are addressed.

When you present patients with expensive, time-consuming treatment plans soon after you meet them, they might think your only goal is to sell them dentistry. They won’t trust your recommendations, and that means they’ll make their next appointment at the practice down the street.

Trust me, starting out small and building from there will help you improve case acceptance, practice productivity, and your bottom line.

It helps you earn patients’ trust

Patients are often leery of a new dentist, and starting off with a large, expensive treatment plan certainly won’t help you win their trust. They’ll opt to go to another dentist for a second opinion instead.

Starting out small gives patients more confidence in your skills. If the procedure is successful, they know they can trust you and your team with their care. They’ll be much more comfortable going forward with more extensive treatment in the future, and hopefully referring your practice to family and friends.

Patients feel more comfortable accepting small treatment plans

Saying yes to treatment can be difficult for patients for many reasons. Maybe they can’t afford a large dental bill, or they can’t take much time off work. Starting with only the treatment they need right now can ease some of those worries. Instead of looking at a plan that costs a few thousand dollars, the price tag becomes much more manageable. Once they see the results of that initial treatment, they might be more inclined to start talking about other options.

They’ll know you care

If the first thing you do is present patients with a treatment plan that would set them back thousands of dollars, they’re going to look at you as more of a car salesman than a dentist. But if you focus only on the treatment that will get them to optimal oral health, it shows them you truly have their best interest at heart.

Patients want to feel a connection to their dentist, and providing education is a big part of that. Don’t just tell them they need treatment, give them an expensive plan, and then send them on their way. Educate them about their most urgent problems and the possible consequences of not going forward with treatment.

Show patients examples of successful cases you’ve completed. Use intraoral cameras, digital photos, and radiographs to show them exactly what’s going on in their mouths. Let them know that once you address immediate issues you can talk about cosmetic options, but that it’s important to get their mouth to optimal health first. Patients will appreciate this, and happy patients who feel a connection accept treatment.

Patients say no to treatment for many reasons. Don’t let overwhelming treatment plans be one of them. Start out with the most essential treatment first, and focus on educating patients about their conditions and the importance of maintaining oral health. This will help you earn their trust and make them more likely to stay loyal to your practice.


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Sally MckenzieSally McKenzie is CEO of McKenzie Management, a full-service, nationwide dental practice management company. Contact her at (877) 777-6151 or sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com.

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