Acouple of years ago, I was in the market to purchase home gym equipment. I stopped in at a very reputable place to investigate and purchase the equipment. I am an easy sell. If it looks good and is branded as being the best, I’ll buy it! On the day I was ready to make my purchase, a salesman came up to me and asked if he could assist me. As he talked, I thought surely there was someone else in the place who actually knew the equipment and could help me. You see, the salesman was nowhere near “in shape” and looked as if he had just walked in off the street to do something about his own problem. I quickly walked out of the place and never returned. If I am going to buy something for my health, I want to buy it from someone who projects a healthy image.
At my next stop, I met a very friendly, well-mannered, and well-built guy named Stewart. Stewart asked me what I was looking for and showed me some of the equipment. Needless to say, he ended up getting my business. I purchased almost $4,000 in equipment because Stewart looked the part by being in shape, and he was knowledgeable about the equipment. This experience made me think about dentists with horrible teeth. What? A dentist with horrible teeth? You have to be kidding! Don’t all dentists have nice teeth? After all, what do dentists do besides fix teeth?
The out-of-shape guy selling gym equipment and the dentist with horrible teeth are what we call a “contradiction of terms.” Why do these things exist? How many dentist friends do you know who suffer from periodontal disease? How many of our colleagues do we run into who laugh and smile with teeth that look like those of our patients who are seeking smile enhancement? Maybe it’s the adage of the cobbler who has no shoes. I don’t know. All I do know is that we are dentists and what we do for a living is dentistry. We bring unhealthy teeth and gums back to good health, and we make people smile. Can you imagine lying back in the dental chair, staring at your dentist who is talking to you about fixing your smile ... and all you can see are crooked, stained, and snaggled teeth? Dentists, it’s simple: “Fix your grill!”
Consistency and congruency separate those who do the same thing for a living. Anything that strays away from this leaves a contradiction of terms in the person’s mind. Likewise, anything that stays consistent with a true experience only adds to the nature of the separation. For example, consider going to your average department store and making a purchase. When the transaction is done, the clerk reaches across the counter, hands you your items in a bag, and thanks you for shopping with the store. Now place yourself in a high-end department store where service is special and the atmosphere is superb. Again, you make a purchase, and as the customer service representative thanks you for your purchase, he or she walks around the counter to hand you your items, thanks you for shopping, and bids you farewell. Which is the more appealing experience?
My point is this: Everything you do for your patients from the time they walk in the door until they leave must be of the same nature. The consistency of the message and the congruency of the image must be as one. Any one contradiction will lead your patients astray. You must talk the talk and walk the walk! It is one thing to say it, but another thing entirely to do it! Can you honestly say that what you are recommending and performing as treatment is what you would have done to and for yourself? I meet a lot of dentists who perform cosmetic work, orthodontics, or even surgery, but they would be the very last in line to have the same procedures performed on them.
If you want to be a cosmetic dentist, you have to be your own best advertisement. Your smile has to be what everyone else would want to have for themselves, or, at least, very close to it. Imagine what it means to patients when they ask to see your teeth after you have recommended cosmetic work to them. You can then respond by showing your great smile and saying, “I’ve had my veneers for about five years and I love them!”
Pick up a mirror and look into it. I know it’s silly, but smile and laugh at yourself while doing this. Is the person in the mirror smiling and laughing back at you, or is there something missing? I know most of you have heard the phrase, “If your smile is not becoming to you, you should be coming to me!” Well, if it’s not me, please make it some other cosmetic dentist. Call a friend, call a colleague, or just fly on out to Greenville, S.C., and I will help you “fix your grill!”
Dr. Matt Bynum lectures internationally on esthetic and reconstructive dentistry, practice management, motivation, and team-building. He is a clinical instructor and featured speaker at the Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies and is co-director and co-founder of the “Achieving Extreme Success” lecture series. Dr. Bynum maintains a full-time private practice in Simpsonville, S.C. Reach him at (864) 297-5585 or [email protected].