I was one of 14 lucky dentists who were asked recently to do a smile makeover on a patient for the nationally televised “The Tony Danza Show.” The episode that I was featured on aired May 24. The “New Style, New Smile” segments are sponsored by 1-800-DENTIST and are a great opportunity to show the American consumer the new technology and advancements in dentistry. The CEO of 1-800-DENTIST, Fred Joyal, deserves a lot of credit for creating some great public relations that show consumers what dentistry can do for them.
The first thing you need to do if you are doing a smile makeover for the media is to find the right kind of patient. We looked at the demographics of the show and determined our patient needed to be a woman between 25 and 45 years old. This patient would have to have teeth that were unesthetic enough to really shine when the dental work was done. The entire makeover needed to be done within three weeks. Because of this time factor, we needed to select a patient who did not have gross periodontal disease or other problems requiring months of healing.
Picking the right patient is as important, if not more important, than picking the right type of dental case. You want a patient who has a very positive attitude and who will sing the praises of dentistry. You also want someone with good verbal skills - someone who can communicate and connect with the TV audience. We were lucky enough to find Rhonda, a 39-year-old nanny, who was in need of and very deserving of a smile makeover.
The interview process was very interesting. After a blurb in a few of our local newspapers, we received many, many phone calls, e-mails, faxes, and letters from people who wanted a smile makeover. The applicants ranged from people who needed 28 root canals and crowns to those who thought their smile was awful, when all they really needed was a little bit of whitening. I must say I learned just how great the interest in cosmetic dentistry is today based on the many applicants we had to be our TV makeover patient.
Many lessons can be learned from doing a TV segment. It took approximately three hours to shoot scenes in our office for a segment that was to run five to six minutes. Whatever point you want to get across, you need to be able to make it quickly and concisely. There is no time on television for lengthy explanations or to show a 15-minute DVD that explains porcelain veneers. You’ve got to learn your lines and practice them over and over so that they come out like you really mean them.
There is a reason commercials are only one minute long. The reason is that the attention span of viewers is very, very short. The same goes for our patients. I see many dentists make the mistake of taking 45 minutes to present treatment plans to patients. If your treatment plan presentation takes that long, you will lose the patient after a few minutes. Talking to patients is no different than being on TV. You have to have quick, concise explanations which drive home your points and make them very understandable. Pictures also help patients see what they need and what you plan to do. This is probably the most effective way to communicate.
What was also special about our segment on “The Tony Danza Show” was our focus on minimally invasive dentistry. Rhonda needed some gingivectomies to lengthen her teeth, as well as no-preparation Lumineers.™ With the use of the Waterlase MD laser and Lumineers™ by Denmat, only two of the 18 teeth treated required local anesthesia. The other 16 teeth did not need anesthesia, and neither did the gingivectomies. That was a huge part of the story of our segment because every other smile makeover required many injections and a lot of tooth preparation. The producers of the show were very impressed with the results we achieved with minimally invasive dentistry.
Seek out opportunities in your own cities to do smile makeovers which can be displayed for the media. It will hone your communication skills and give you a better understanding of what patients are looking for and how they want to be addressed. Great public relations efforts, such as this wonderful opportunity, are terrific practice-builders for your dental office, as well as for dentistry in America.
Dr. Louis Malcmacher is an international lecturer and author known for his comprehensive and entertaining style. An evaluator for Clinical Research Associates, Dr. Malcmacher is a consultant to the Council on Dental Practice of the ADA. For close to two decades, Dr. Malcmacher has inspired his audiences to truly enjoy practicing dentistry by providing the knowledge necessary for excellent clinical and practice-management skills. His group dental practice has maintained a 45 percent overhead since 1988. For details about his speaking schedule, Dr. Malcmacher can be reached at (440) 892-1810, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.