Most dental practices stand behind their work and repair or replace work if it fails in the short term. When a patient came into our office with a broken crown that had been recently made, we remade the crown at no charge. Then we decided that if we already replace these crowns at no charge, why not put this policy into writing and make it a positive marketing bonus? We decided to spell out our remake policy in a formal "limited warranty" and add it to our other office policies.
We formalized a written limited warranty and gave this to patients when we completed their fixed prosthetic dentistry (figure 1). We did not include other restorative and removable prosthetics in our warranty. If we were restoring something that we felt might not hold up long term, we advised patients and did not include the procedure in our warranty program.
We also spoke with our lab partners and advised them that we were warranting these fixed prosthetic services, and asked if they would also warranty their work. We do a fair amount of work with our labs, and we learned they were more than happy to honor such an arrangement with us.
So now we can promote and publicize our warranty policy. Our patients feel more secure that we stand behind our work. We promote our warranty under the guidelines that our patients must keep up with their six-month recalls, routine cleanings, and maintenance to keep their warranties valid. This helps in our recall program. Also, we have our labs on board, promoting quality dentistry.
Figure 1: Our limited warranty
Our limited warranty policy has been in effect for over 20 years. In that time, we've not had one patient actually bring in the warranty certificate. What usually transpires is a patient coming in for a broken tooth. We examine the area and determine that a crown that was made three years ago, for example, had broken. We then advise the person that we will remake it at no charge. When any lab work is sent in, we indicate on the prescription form that this is a remake, the date it was made, and the reason we are remaking it. We follow up on our lab bills to make sure that we are not charged for the laboratory work.
Fortunately, we do not have a high number of remakes. When the need arises, we stand behind our work, our patients appreciate it, and our practice gets a lot of positive publicity!
Howard Hopenwasser, DMD, received his DMD from University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine. He went on to serve as a captain in the United States Air Force. Dr. Hopenwasser has been in private practice since 1976. He has authored numerous articles that have been published in Dental Economics, Dental Management, JADA, Dentistry Today, and General Dentistry, as well as a chapter in the Success Guide for the New Dentist. He can be reached at [email protected].