Roger Levin, DDS, MBA
After almost 15 years of consulting with dental practices throughout the United States, I recently had a major breakthrough that helped me understand how practices can provide more elective dentistry. For many years, I have been concerned about why more practices are not able to provide more esthetic and elective services. Many dentists have attempted to enhance the elective and esthetic sides of their practices, but still fall short of their goals.
The old model
I now realize that the entire model of case presentation and value-building that we use in our practices for need-based patients is relatively ineffective when it comes to providing esthetic and elective care.
Most dentists do not realize how they are conditioned to provide needs-based services. We rarely have to sell patients on accepting need-based services, such as fixing broken or decayed teeth. Patients understand that they have a specific problem and they can justify the treatment in their own minds. This has made presenting need-based dentistry very easy, as patients trust and believe these problems exist.
This model has allowed us to become accustomed to presenting treatment in a certain manner. Unfortunately, it is highly ineffective when presenting elective dentistry that patients do not need. Patients may not even be aware that esthetic and elective services exist, much less want them. They have little sense of urgency in receiving treatment for which they cannot justify the need.
The difference for esthetic dentistry
Esthetic and elective dental services are similar to any luxury service or item. The difference, though, is that many luxury items represent a level of status or accomplishment that is not identified with esthetic or elective dentistry. It always has amazed me that people spend so much money above the neck to look good, and yet they completely forget about their teeth. The public is not tuned into about thinking about elective dental services to enhance appearance. They often forgo the area of the mouth, while spending a fortune on hair, makeup, glasses, and jewelry.
Practices that want to increase the amount of esthetic and elective dentistry they provide must use a radically different approach when building value and presenting cases. Patients react to something I have termed elective impulsivity when making decisions about esthetic and elective dentistry. Because purchasing esthetic or elective dentistry is an impulse, not a logical decision, we must take an entirely new approach.
Case presentation system
In materials I have recently completed, I have identified approximately 18 steps that vastly differ from the case-presentation steps we use for patients who have specific dental needs. These areas are helping many practices increase the amount of esthetic and elective dentistry that they provide. The first step is simply realizing that we need to change the way we build value for and present elective or esthetic services to patients.
Roger P. Levin, DDS, MBA, president and CEO of The Levin Group and the Levin Advanced Learning Institute, provides worldwide leadership in dental management and marketing for general dentists, specialists, and dental-products companies.