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Research report: Case acceptance

July 15, 2015
Success in the new dental economy requires that dentists do more with what they have.

Roger P. Levin, DDS


Success in the new dental economy requires that dentists do more with what they have. That's why Levin Group recommends that practices close 90% of the cases they present. After all, they've already done the marketing to get a new patient in the door, or honed their customer service skills to inspire trust in existing patients. The doctor has taken the time to examine the patient. Closing the case makes the most of these efforts and keeps production on the rise.

Achieving a high close rate isn't luck-it requires a system. Practices that enjoy 90% close rates provide every patient with a comprehensive exam, write scripts for presenting every procedure, role-play scripts to master them, and offer patient financing options. Given that few offices are following all of these steps, it's not surprising that a majority of dentists (67.3%) are falling short of 90% case acceptance.

What practices should continue doing

Most practices that participated in the survey are doing some things right. A majority (63.2%) of respondents perform an annual comprehensive exam on patients. These checkups give doctors the opportunity to discover oral-health risks and problems that the patient may not be aware of and propose solutions.

In addition, 89.6% of practices surveyed provide financing options for larger cases. Financial factors are always critical for successful case presentation-never more so than today. Cautious consumers have less money to pay out-of-pocket fees and need more convenient and flexible options if they are to accept treatment.

Finally, most practices (80.9%) present implants to edentulous patients. This builds the practice's value in the minds of patients, because the team demonstrates a concern for their oral health. Dentists who are accustomed to recommending need-based treatment may have low acceptance rates for implant cases unless they recognize that implants are want-based-and alter their presentation accordingly. Patients want to know how they will ultimately benefit from having implants, and it is up to the doctor and dental team to highlight all the advantages while emphasizing that no other treatment will enhance the person's lifestyle the way implants can.

What practices should start doing

Although the majority of doctors perform comprehensive exams, respondents indicated that they often leave a significant piece out: the cosmetic evaluation. Only 21.6% of survey participants reported that they include a cosmetic exam. Elective dentistry gives practices an extra revenue stream, so offices that don't complete a cosmetic review are missing out on potential production. Even in challenging times, demand remains strong for products and services that make consumers look more attractive, younger, and healthier. Many patients want a more appealing smile but may not be aware that their dental office provides the services to make that desire a reality.

Only 26.3% of responding dentists said that they have written scripts for case presentations, and only 24.1% actually practice scripts during staff meetings. Scripting, one of the "9 areas of expertise" Levin Group has identified as vital to practice success, makes it possible for anyone to effectively influence patients. Even the most caring and conscientious staff members may have difficulty coming up with the right words. Although scripts don't need to be memorized and recited word-for-word, team members should role-play them so that they become comfortable and familiar with what needs to be said. Then, they can easily translate the scripts into their own words and sincerely persuade patients.


Case acceptance plays a critical role in the success of a dental practice. If every other management protocol is performed properly, yet patients are not accepting proposed treatment, then a notable percentage of production will be lost. Just like the scientific aspects of dentistry, case presentation is a skill dentists and their teams can master. It simply requires following all the steps for making a strong case, from the comprehensive exam (including cosmetic concerns) to scripting the presentation.

Seminar savings: Save up to $100 on any of Dr. Roger P. Levin's seminars when you register 30 days in advance. Only a few dates remain for 2015. For more information, go to www.levingroup.com/gpseminars.

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