This week’s blog post comes from MGE client and Power Program graduate, Dr. Michael Ofir. Over the last five years, Dr. Ofir has done an incredible job of transforming his Boston area practices into pillars in the community. Overall his practices have grown by 800%, including adding a third location.
I love doing dentistry.
I think many of you reading this feel the same way. It’s a big part of what excited us when we got into the profession. Seeing a patient’s smile transform into something beautiful that they can be proud of is one of the most rewarding things you can experience as a dentist.
Cosmetic cases can be more difficult to present (and get accepted) for a few reasons:
- It is often a matter of “want” and not “need” – you can’t point to infection or bone loss when presenting the case, so patients don’t see the urgency of it,
- Cosmetic services are often not covered by insurance, so the financial barriers are greater, and
- Patients often don’t know that these services are even available unless they’ve been educated about them.
So yes, there are a few more barriers to overcome with cosmetic dentistry, but I’ve found specific actions to be successful in stimulating patient interest and improving case acceptance. And I’m happy to be sharing them with you in this article!
1. Administer a cosmetic dentistry questionnaire in person.
We give each patient a 10-step questionnaire that asks questions about the appearance, shape, spacing, form and color of their teeth. As well as if they’d like them to be whiter, how they feel about their teeth, etc.
In my office, an assistant does the questionnaire with the patients, so they can get in good communication with them. For example, the assistant will ask “Would you like to straighten the teeth?” or “Do you like the shape of your teeth?” or “Do you have missing teeth you would like to replace?” etc. Each question has a yes or no answer.
When they’re done answering the questionnaire with the assistant, I come in to look at the answers and discuss it with the patient. By this time, the patient is usually ready to ask me questions about it. This is great because I hate feeling like I’m talking off a script or just droning on in a very one-sided conversation when I present a case. When the patient starts asking questions, you can understand their wants and needs and have a real discussion about it. It gets the conversation going.
(Related: 5 Ways to Improve the Patient Experience)
Then, each time they come in to see the hygienist, the patient is asked to do the questionnaire again because the condition of their teeth can change.
If we didn’t have this questionnaire form, we would have never discovered many cases that were already walking through our office.
2. Don’t be shy – engage with the patient
I like to be personal because, as I mentioned above, patients often have to pay out of pocket for cosmetic work and I’ve found that people don’t like to hand money to strangers! So, talk with them and be yourself.
A great way that we engage with our patients is we take pictures with an intraoral camera and put it on the screen. A photograph helps greatly to illustrate what we need to fix; when a condition is magnified on a big screen, it looks different and it registers with them.
Once the photograph is on the screen, I’ll ask, “What do you see?” And then, “What would you like to see?” I get them dreaming a little bit by asking other questions like, “Do you have an event you have to go to?”, “How soon?”, “When would you like to have this done by?” This gets us in good communication and gets the patient to see that there is something to fix and that they should do it soon rather than put it off.
Another thing I do which has really helped is compile videos animations from previous Invisalign cases. Then when I’m presenting a case to a new patient, I can dig up a video of an old case with a similar condition and show them how the teeth adjust over the course of treatment. (This is without divulging any patient information, of course, in compliance with HIPAA). It really wows them!
3. Involve the staff in educating patients
In order for staff to help educate patients and get them interested in cosmetic dentistry, they have to understand it, as well. Many companies offer educational material on their products. Use it! For example, we have the staff watch the webinars from Invisalign.Tip #3: In order for staff to help educate patients and get them interested in cosmetic dentistry, they have to understand it as wellClick To Tweet
Another thing we do is give the staff a bonus if they discuss a cosmetic procedure with a patient who ends up proceeding with it. Having an incentive structure to reward any staff who contributed to finding a cosmetic case or helping the patient accept it has really boosted productivity and morale in our office.
4. Market cosmetic dentistry services to your patients
Last but not least, let people know about the services you offer! Patients don’t automatically know about them and won’t think to bring it up during their visit. And if you don’t tell them, you’ll miss out on a lot of opportunities.
We do a number of things to promote our cosmetic dentistry services. Here a few examples:
- We create newsletters for our patients to keep them up to date on what’s happening in our office, special deals that are going on, tips to keep their teeth in good health, etc.
- We also put up posters and signs in the office about our services.
- On top of all that, we design postcards that have worked well for us; we’ve had quite a response from the cards alone. We do have to change the design every time we create the cards because people become desensitized to seeing the same thing over and over again, but as long as they’re updated regularly they work quite well.
- We promote everything on our website. In fact, I have a separate website all about veneers. When someone searches Google for veneers in my area, that website pops up high in the search results.
- We get video testimonials from happy patients who have gotten veneers, Invisalign, whitening, etc. We then share on YouTube, social media and our website. These patients fill out of release form, of course, allowing us to use the video.
Those are the 4 tips that have really worked for me in improving cosmetic dentistry case acceptance! I hope these tips can help you in your office.
There’s a lot more information you can learn on the subject of case acceptance, which is why I highly suggest attending the Effective Case Acceptance Seminar and the MGE New Patient Workshop. You’ll learn effective techniques to get more new patients and help them accept and pay for full treatment plans.