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A common complaint that dentists hear, particularly in a tight economy, is that their fees are too high. The truth is when people complain about cost, it’s almost always because they don’t realize the value of what they’re paying for. That’s certainly true of dentistry. People don’t understand how it can be so expensive because they don’t understand what they’re getting for the money.

It’s incumbent upon all of us in the industry to educate patients about the true value of dentistry, and how much it can improve their lives. However, before you can do that, you need to gain your patients’ trust. That takes time and friendly, personable service. Statistically speaking, a patient isn’t likely to agree to a comprehensive treatment plan until he or she has been with your practice for at least 18 months, so take your time getting to know your new patients and educating them through your chairside conversations and internal marketing about the services you offer. Once patients have grown to trust your treatment recommendations, they’re much more likely to be willing to pay for them.

Another important point is that before your patients can come to terms with the value of your dentistry, they must realize how modern dentistry has evolved. Let them know about the latest technology your practice has invested in, and how it can benefit them. Dentistry has changed dramatically in the past decade, and a big part of increasing your case acceptance simply comes down to teaching your patients what you can now do, and how efficiently, quickly and comfortably it can be done.

Once you’ve established trust with your patients and informed them about what your practice offers, your next step is to illustrate the value of dentistry in a way that they can understand. To do this, you and every person on your staff need to honestly believe that money spent improving their smile is one of the best investments your patients can make. If you don’t believe this yourself, you’re never going to convince your patients. Once you’re ready to present your case, however, you’ll find that it’s most effective to educate them about how the treatment will directly benefit them. Make sure they realize why the procedure costs what it does, what goes into it and everything they will gain as a result of that investment — whether it’s a self-esteem boost, or a better ability to eat, talk or live without pain. If you take care to explain how dentistry can significantly improve the lives of your patients, their focus will eventually switch from “How much does it cost?” to “When can we start?”

You often hear people described as having a “million dollar smile,” and while it’s usually just an expression, it does illustrate an important fact. Good dentistry holds far greater value than most people realize, because investing in your smile pays dividends for life. You and I know this is true. Now it’s up to us to enlighten everyone else!

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Comment by Mary Jane RDH BS on January 12, 2010 at 6:50am
Physicians need to stay on the bandwagon with us.If I hear "just" a baby tooth one more time, you will hear me scream from where you sit. My response is "So the first twelve years of your child's life is not all that important"? Even pediatricians have been guilty of missing disease in a child's mouth. Prevention will hopefully stop the need for emergency visits to the pediatric dentist, or worse still, the operating room for total reconstruction. Mouth and body connection is here to stay; priceless!
Comment by Fred Joyal on January 7, 2010 at 12:55pm
Very true!

Actually, your quotes remind me of something a cosmetic dentist told me once. He said there are always more affordable options in dentistry. If implants are too expensive, there's always dentures. And if dentures are too expensive, there's always jello.
Comment by Yin Chew on January 6, 2010 at 11:33pm
There is this quote which is so true, "If you think staying healthy is expensive, try being sick" - same variation, "If you think education is expensive, try ignorance."
Comment by Mary Jane RDH BS on December 26, 2009 at 12:28pm
Teeth provide so much more than a million dollar smile. They provide us with the ability to properly digest our food; speak clearly, give us the face that greats the world that sadly judges on appearance far too much. I don't under value that beautiful appearance; I don't just put it at the top of the list..health always has to come first. A mouth full of disease can make my patients very ill; that is what I try to make clear to them; looking good is the big plus and maintaining that look is the goal along with the good, TOTAL BODY HEALTH.

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