In any dental practice, it’s really important for patients to accept your treatment plan. For your patients, getting the care they need will let them experience all the benefits having a full, bright, healthy smile offers. For your practice, you will be able to grow, be more productive, and make bigger impacts on people’s lives.
A lot of the time, however, patients hesitate to accept treatment. One reason is that sometimes treatment is expensive. This is especially important for high-cost procedures like dental implants and crowns. But accepting treatment is also an emotional decision. Many people are anxious about even routine dentistry. More complex care is even scarier to those people.
In my Delivering WOW Platinum Coaching Program, I sat down with Dr. Chris Bowman, who helps practices increase case acceptance, especially as it comes to helping patients overcome the emotional hesitations they often feel when treatment is presented to them. Here are three strategies to help.
Speak English, not “dentalese.”
Just because you learned all the jargon of dentistry in dental school doesn’t mean you speak that same jargon with patients. As Dr. Bowman describes it, don’t speak “dentalese” to patients if you want them to say yes to treatment.
Instead, explain dental issues to patients the same way the patient would explain it to their friend. Your patient wouldn’t tell their friend “I’m gonna have an MOD on number 13 and an MO on 15.” They’d say, “I’m going to have a crown and a couple of fillings.” Instead of saying, “You have five areas of decay,” say, “You have five cavities.”
Don’t confuse the patient or scare them by making them think their care is complex when it isn’t. Simplify things for them, and getting treatment will seem a lot easier to them.
Simplifying treatment by speaking English, not dentalese, will help patients understand their treatment and avoid putting them off by big words that sound intimidating. Things will almost always sound much more serious when you use technical jargon. This might cause your patient to feel overwhelmed, and they might find another practice in the hopes of getting a simpler treatment recommendation.
Often patients are scared, and that’s what’s keeping them from moving forward with treatment. You’ll only scare them more if you make a simple procedure like a root canal sound like a complex treatment.
Focus on the problems you will help them overcome instead of the solution.
If you ask your patient what they want their teeth to be like a few years from now, you’ll get an idea of what type of treatment they want. You can then analyze their teeth and see the problems that are preventing them from getting what they want.
Maybe they want to have straight teeth. If they’re missing a tooth, though, that could lead to crowding. That missing tooth would be a problem that is preventing them from getting the straight smile they want. You need to focus on that problem and tell them that they aren’t going in the direction of having a straight smile without treatment.
Let patients know how your treatment plan will redirect that in the right way. Don’t try to scare them, but let them know that if they don’t get treatment soon, things will get worse so it will be the simplest and easiest to take care of it now. This will motivate patients to accept treatment because they won’t want things to get worse.
Frame your treatment recommendations as a better alternative to what will happen if they don’t get treatment.
There are a couple of things we can do to help patients see the difference between what we’re recommending and where they’re heading. Most patients don’t see what Dr. Bowman calls the “other side of the problem.” The other side of the problem is what’s going to happen if they don’t do anything—in other words, the consequences of not getting treatment.
If the patient has mild to moderate periodontal disease, for example, we can suggest non-surgical gum treatment. When presenting it to them, however, we should explain that if they don’t treat their periodontal disease, they will eventually need to have surgery later. Non-surgical gum treatment will seem like a better alternative than surgical gum treatment to a patient, and they’ll be much more likely to move forward with treatment and avoid surgery.
Are your patients saying yes to your treatment plan?
If your patients aren’t accepting treatment, you will help fewer people and work too hard for too little money. These three strategies will help you get more patients to move forward with the treatment they need.
For more help getting patients to say yes to your treatment plan, join my Delivering WOW Platinum Coaching Program, where you will get help from experts like Dr. Bowman on case acceptance plus work directly with other leading experts on everything you need to run a smoother, better, and more profitable practice. You can also join thousands of other dentists helping each other in my free Dental Marketing and Profits Facebook Group!