Getting Patients to see the Big Picture

get patients to see the big picture

get patients to see the big pictureDid you know that in most practices 65% of hygiene patients end up needing some type of restorative dentistry? So, a question to ask yourself should be, “is my hygiene team trained in case presentation skills?”

For years, the focus of case presentation was always to educate the patient. Dental team members were coached that educating their patients was the best way to get them in for necessary treatment. Well, the paradigm has shifted. While we should still educate our patients, the way that we do it has changed.

There is an old acronym that you may have heard of in sales training. It’s KISS or Keep It Simple Salesman. It actually is possible to talk your patients out of treatment. Sometimes, talking too much just ends up confusing the patient, and then they end up feeling overwhelmed, and may not make a decision regarding their oral health.

Here is the new paradigm that dentists and dental care team members should use with their patients.


When talking to your patients, always keep it simple. It is not about what you say, but how you say it. When it comes to case acceptance, it has more to do with what they see rather than what you say.

This is where tools such as cavity detecting lasers or intra-oral cameras can really become a valuable asset to your practice. Telling a patient they have cavities or a cracked tooth sometimes just isn’t enough to set things in motion. But, being able to project these images onto a large monitor or television screen makes their problem big as life, so to speak.

In these instances, seeing is believing. They aren’t just taking your word for it that they have cavities or a cracked tooth. Instead, they actually believe it because they see it for themselves.

If you have these valuable assets just sitting around collecting dust, now is the time to dust them off and start putting them to work. Maybe you do not have this cutting-edge technology, but it may be time that you start considering it as a new investment. After all, it is likely to increase your patient’s case acceptance.

Build Value

If someone wants something bad enough, they will make it happen. The same is true for dental work. If your patient really wants to fix their teeth, they will find a way to afford the treatment. Your job is to build value.

Would you have this treatment done?

Why would you fix your tooth/teeth?

Talk this out with your patient. Some doctors even use the approach of saying, “well, if it were my tooth, here is what I would do to fix it.” Remember, your patients look to you for guidance since you are the expert, not them.

Be sure also to focus on the WIIFM (or what’s in it for them) approach. Instead of sounding like a salesperson by explaining how the procedure works, focus on the benefits of the treatment. For instance, explaining the benefits of a dental implant may look something like this:

“Having a dental implant can restore your bite, and ability to eat the foods that you want. You never have to worry about taking it out since it is permanent. It’s easy to clean since you can brush and floss it just like your other teeth. Plus, the porcelain used to make the crown will look indistinguishable from your other teeth. It will look completely natural in the end.” 

The way that you build value for your patients may look a little different, depending on the treatment you are discussing, and what you believe would be valuable to each specific patient. Once your patient understands what is in it for them, they will be more like to move forward with treatment because they truly see the benefits of it.

Be an Advocate

Always keep in mind that not everyone wants to fix their oral health concerns in the same manner as every other patient. We should no longer talk to patients about what they need because they will want what they want. You should present treatment options with that in mind. They may not even know what they are a candidate for, or what treatments are best for them. Always be an advocate for your patient, presenting options that are in their best interest, not just what you think they need.

We encourage you to discuss these tips with your dental hygienists as this is where many of your restorative patients come from. Better yet, send this to your entire dental team to read, and then discuss during a group meeting. Everyone should be on board with this new paradigm shift. It can help grow your practice, but even better is that it will build trust between you and your patients.

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