Quite often, dental speakers will say something like, “If you want to do esthetic dentistry, you have to attract the right kind of patient.” What’s that? What is the right kind of patient and from where do they come?
We chose to practice in a small town of 2,000 people in rural Oklahoma. This was not a town of well-to-do executives who were seeking esthetic dental care to enhance their business opportunities. This was a town of what we always describe as “salt-of-the-earth” people - good people who work hard for a living and who live on a budget.
Can you perform top-notch, quality esthetic dentistry in a town such as this? Can you perform top-notch, quality esthetic dentistry where you are, in your own town, wherever you might be? The answer is yes! There is no question that you can!
We are not sure what defines the “right kind” of dental patient. We didn’t have many people who came to us seeking esthetic dentistry - at least not in the beginning. We made a decision and a commitment to provide the very best quality dentistry possible, to make financing of the dentistry as comfortable as possible, and to get out of the way and let people have a chance to say “yes” to the very best. This applies not only to the restorative dentistry, but to the esthetic opportunities that we make available to every patient.
Most people do not know what is available in dentistry today. So, we decided that no one was going to make anything happen for us - it was our responsibility to make things happen. We believe that no one comes to us as the “right kind” of patient, but that we can convert them to the “right kind” of patient through quality service, care, education, great communications, and going the extra mile for every patient every time. So, if we were to advise you about creating the right kind of patient, here is where we would start:
Creating the right kind of patient
1)When a person comes to your practice as a new patient, make sure the patient’s experience is remarkable. Sit down as a team and define what you would consider the ultimate new patient experience. Then, do whatever it takes to make that happen every time, not just every once in a while or when you have time, but every time.
2) Begin your new patient experience by performing a gracious initial interview. The only way to determine a person’s wants or needs is to ask questions and listen. You can do this with a verbal interview or you can combine your interview with a smile evaluation. Open the door for a conversation about your patients’ mouth, teeth, and smile. Let them tell you what they think, what they like and don’t like about their teeth, and what they would change about their smile, if they could.
3) Do a tour of the mouth with an intraoral or digital camera and include not only the posterior views, but the anterior views as well.
4) At the end of the evaluation, set patients up in the dental chair and show them the areas of concern that you have detected. In addition, show them the anterior view of their smile. Connect your photographs to their initial interview.
5) Ask patients’ permission to design a treatment plan that will address their perceived needs or wants.
6) Invite patients back for a consultation so that you can sit down and discuss the possibilities with them. Make sure you have prepared carefully for this meeting and that you have allowed plenty of time.
7) At the consultation, address patients’ restorative needs and ask their permission to have you show them what you can do to enhance their smile.
8) Use before and after photographs of cases you have completed or use cosmetic imaging to show possible treatment results in both the posterior and the anterior regions. Esthetic dentistry is a part of all treatment, both anterior and posterior.
9) Ask patients if they would be interested in restoring their mouth to achieve good oral health and/or if they would like to enhance their smile. You never know what you will get until you ask!
10) If patients have financial concerns, use the information in the 2005 article series in DE called “Maximizing a Patient Financing Program.”
You have the opportunity to grow your practice from within by creating your own “right kind” of patients. Do not hesitate to make esthetic dentistry - both anterior and posterior - available to the vast majority of your patients.
Jameson Management Inc. is an international lecture and consulting firm providing instruction and coaching in four vital areas of practice development: communication, business, hygiene and clinical efficiency, and technology. For further information on how to take your practice to the next level, contact JMI at (877) 369-5558 or visit the Web site at www.jamesonmanagement.com.