Is your office “selling” dentistry?

March 6, 2018|Kendall Butler

Selling dental services may have a negative connotation, but it’s really about recommending the appropriate dental treatments and truly has the patients’ oral health in mind.

At least a few times a month I hear dentists say with distaste, “I do not want my team selling dentistry.” You can call it by many names, but in my book it is okay to say “selling.” Much of the public considers dentistry as being totally optional unless, of course, they are in pain!

As health professionals, I hope you will always be “selling” or “educating” people about dentistry. We have to—we are asking them to spend a lot of money on something which, very often, they are not having any problems with. While it can be frustrating and exhausting, patients do not know what we know, so it is our duty to encourage them to do the right thing—even if many still will not move forward with treatment, despite your best efforts.

We can’t give up on encouraging better oral health!

There are many people who will do the right thing for themselves or their children because you did spend the extra time selling them on the concept of good oral health. Maybe you pushed a little and got through to someone with significant periodontal disease because you taught them about the importance of keeping their teeth. Perhaps you explained (for the fourth time!) that if they replace those missing teeth, not only will it look better but the improved function will aid in good digestive health and prevent their teeth from shifting and super-erupting to make up for the missing spaces.

It is rare for patients without pain to move forward with larger services the first time they are presented. That’s why selling or educating patients about dentistry is everyone’s job. Patients need to hear the message many times and in different ways. When I was assisting, many patients would turn to me when the dentist left the operatory and ask, “What do you think? Do I need to do this?”

Is “selling” dentistry a matter of semantics?

Maybe we should say “cajole” which is defined as: to coax, persuade, entice, sweet talk, inveigle (I know, I had to look that up too! It means to win over.), flatter or compel. Sell is defined as: to win the acceptance of, win over, persuade to buy, persuade to accept, convince, enlist and prevail upon. Are they not basically the same concept?

As a dentist, if you do not want your staff talking about a patient’s oral condition, then say that. Otherwise, understand that it takes multiple attempts to convince a patient to part with their hard earned money. All patients want to know that they really need to spend the money and if staff is not talking about it, the treatment loses its urgency!

Think about dental treatments this way

Every day we are bombarded by areas requiring our money: mortgage or rent, food, gas, heat, our children, our cars and vacations, to name just a few. Everything else is based on the level of the priority. There will always be other better, more exciting things on which to spend their money. Often it is not terribly exciting (unless the treatment is cosmetic) to spend money on their teeth. In dentistry, if we fail to educate or sell with enough urgency, the patient spends their money in another area or on another priority.

With our assistance, we can help patients understand (by whatever term makes you happy), that investing in their oral health can bring them fewer emergency visits, better systemic health, and a big, beautiful and wonderful smile!

For ideas on how to increase practice efficiency and training staff, contact Kendall Butler or any member of the Dental Advisory Group at Schenck at 800-236-2246.


Kendall Butler is a dental practice efficiency specialist with more than 25 years of experience in health care. She works with doctors, practice managers, hygiene teams and support staff to identify ways to enhance practice efficiency and profitability.



Tags: Dentists