I came across a dentist’s Web page the other day that promises patients a “transcendental experience” in a “wellness spa” rather than a traditional dental office. Instead of nervous apprehension, people “feel a sense of calm and well-being” induced by soothing décor, healing foot massages, meditative music, and the “loving hands” of smiling hygienists. Hmmm.
Is this what patients really want? Well … why not? As long as beautiful surroundings and creature comforts are accompanied by skilled and conscientious dentistry, why wouldn’t patients prefer a spa-like environment?
How much does office environment matter in building a successful practice? I would guess it matters for any practice. But, from experience, I know that it definitely counts in building a thriving cosmetic dentistry practice.
Why? Perhaps the most obvious reason involves the patients’ investment of time and money. For most, cosmetic procedures are elective, and are chosen for their life-enhancing potential. A more beautiful, healthy smile opens the door to better health and greater self-confidence. But since the costs aren’t trivial, and often are not covered by insurance, cosmetic dentistry can be considered a luxury. Thus, it must compete with other luxury uses of the same funds. To be successful, a cosmetic dental procedure should be a pleasant, high-quality, and fulfilling personal experience, as well as deliver outstanding clinical results.
Patients accustomed to luxury experiences begin taking cues the minute they enter an office upon their first interactions with staff. So a well-designed, well-appointed, and professional practice can visually reaffirm that patients have come to the right place for exceptional care. This reflects the dentist’s esthetic sensibilities, skill level and commitment to quality, and concern for the experience and personal well-being of patients.
Let’s start with the exceptional care part. At the core, patients want assurance that their cosmetic dentist will take the extra time and care to get to know them and to create a custom-tailored smile that’s ideal and specific for them. They want to know their dentist is well-trained, uses the highest-quality products and latest techniques, and works with the best cosmetic dental laboratory available. They want to know that their restorations will look beautiful and natural, and that they will remain attractive for many years. For these reasons, I specify MAC Veneers by MicroDental. These veneers are made from the most advanced, pressed ceramic materials available. I think they are the strongest, most stain-resistant, most natural-looking veneers on the market. MicroDental also shares my philosophy for personalized care, and works with me to provide products and lab services that often exceed my exacting standards.
In my practice, I try to represent my commitment to quality care and total patient experience with an attractive overall layout, as well as stylish, comfortable furnishings. In addition, my office offers many comforts to pamper patients and create an enjoyable, luxurious experience. We offer wine from our private collection during consultations and before a procedure begins. Since patients often are in a dental chair for as many as three hours, they can watch a movie or listen to music from our wide-ranging, up-to-date entertainment library. For added relaxation, they can turn on a massage mechanism in the chair. It’s all about giving them special treatment.
Of course, there’s personal attention - perhaps the most effective way to make people feel special. I never double book. I do my best to get to know patients personally, and to focus completely on their treatment. People may expect their regular dentist to move from patient to patient among different rooms; they assume the procedures are fairly standard and require little customization. Patients make exactly the opposite assumption about cosmetic dentistry - they expect their cosmetic dentist’s undivided attention. That’s what they want, that’s what they pay for, and that’s what I give them.
When treatment is complete, I always thank them with a bouquet of flowers and a special bottle of wine or some other token of appreciation. My staff also follows up with phone calls to ensure that patients are happy.
Although I can’t always promise a transcendental spiritual experience during the procedure, I can always offer a luxurious, relaxing, and reassuring environment - along with special, personalized attention. I know that the clinical results will have a profound impact on my clients’ lives. That extra effort easily pays for itself in personal and client satisfaction, which is perhaps the clearest definition of professional success.
Dr. Christopher Pescatore lectures worldwide on topics such as state-of-the-art esthetic procedures, techniques, and materials. He holds a U.S. patent for a nonmetallic post system to restore endodontically treated teeth. He is the former clinical co-director and current featured speaker at the Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies. He has a full-time practice in Danville, Calif., dedicated exclusively to esthetic dentistry. He can be reached at (925) 362-9330 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.