Communicating Value: How to Get More Out of Cosmetic Dentistry

Dr. Andersen* had a problem. When he held up a mirror and asked his patients, “What do you think?” he only heard, “They’re okay.” Dr. Andersen told me, “When the patient says, ‘They’re okay,’ we know they’re anything but.”

Although he knew higher quality treatments were possible, Dr. Andersen was concerned that the fees for his best work would scare off patients.

Dr. Anderson’s predicament is not unique. I’ve heard the same complaint all around the world. Today’s patients want beautiful teeth. They expect us to present them with the solution that represents the best quality and value—not just the least expensive price tag. So, the burden is on us as dentists to clearly illustrate the lifelong value of high-quality treatments.

There is, however, a right and a wrong way to present comprehensive restorations. Simply stating, “You need caps,” isn’t effective. And waving a brochure is just giving patients too many options without enough guidance. Instead, we should present comprehensive restorations only after we have developed a relationship using five basic principles: rapport, value, perspective, planning, and choosing the right lab.

Create Rapport—Patients agree to treatments because they trust us: they trust our practice, our employees—everything. The moment a patient walks through the door, it’s our obligation to create a positive relationship.

Dr. Marshall* told me how small actions make a difference. “Daily, I take a few minutes to kick back and speak with new patients,” she said, “and I’m amazed to see how it builds rapport and improves my business.” If we present comprehensive dentistry and a patient shops around for a lower fee, then we’ve failed to secure their trust.

Present Value —Patients expect quality. They will forget they paid less if they are not fully satisfied. I’ve found that white wax-ups, slide presentations, and computer enhanced photographs give patients a clear picture of their own teeth transformed into a beautiful, healthy, and inviting smile. When patients share our vision for treatment, the fee becomes a secondary issue.

Put the Investment in Perspective —Of course, some patients may still object to the fees. Don’t feel guilty. Comprehensive reconstructive dentistry isn’t inexpensive. Dr. Anderson explains to patients that his fee gives them the best cosmetic dentistry he can provide, regardless of the lab bill. “I show them what the best techniques and technology can do for their teeth today,” he said. “Often, that’s all it takes. They’re happy to have it, and they can work it into their budgets.”

Plan Proficiently—Once we establish patients’ expectations for superior treatment, we must follow through by preparing teeth to accommodate those restorations. A good lab will help us prepare teeth correctly. They will support each case with a model that serves as a visual preparation guide and with a duplicate matrix to ensure adequate reduction.

Choose the Right Lab—Only superior labs provide the high quality dental cosmetics that will satisfy today’s patients. These labs use the finest porcelain techniques and apply them using an intricate, multi-layered process that creates beautiful, natural-looking teeth. Superior labs employ the best-trained professionals and give us the same kind of individual attention we give our patients.

Some dentists still believe that patients only want the least expensive treatments, but I’ve found that the opposite is true. Patients prefer the finest quality. When we successfully communicate the benefits of higher-fee treatments, patients are more willing to accept them. They will love their new look, and you will love knowing that your best work gives them a better quality of life.

*Names have been changed to protect privacy