As dental professionals we are expected to walk the line in helping people achieve whatever they desire that is within our realm. Laypersons expect us to mostly set aside our own desire for compensation; at least for the treatment planning and recommend what we feel is best.
Unfortunately dentists are graduating with limited treatment planning skills and their presentation skills are even worse. The good news is we can all get better at anything but the help we get from continuing education needs to be reviewed carefully. Being able to learn quickly is a pre-requisite for dental school, and yet we all seem to think ethics and this kind of intelligence comes hand in hand. They do not and this has led the profession onto shaky ground from which it seems to be retreating.
We get excited about new technologies and skills, and the training often includes sales skills that employ psychological tricks that are proven to increase the closing rates. While we don’t want to be looked at as super sales people by the public, we do value staff that are good at nailing down a patient to commit to paying for ‘ideal dentistry’. Informed consent includes breaking all the options down to the most simple forms, discussing pros/cons and long term costs. Why do we still use the word ‘permanent’ with crowns when we know they have a limited life…does Mercedes sell ‘permanent luxury vehicles’? Under cross examination a lawyer could use our staff to throw us under the bus with a few short questions.
With the advantage of greater understanding of all the alternatives the dental team needs to consider backing away from the intense focus on selling the most expensive choice. It is not always the best, and for example a mouth full of porcelain can be either the best dentistry has to offer or an example of ruthless greed. My personal breakthrough came from adding orthodontics to my general practice and while I may call myself an ‘UnCosmetic Dentist’ it is just a positioning statement that challenges those who feel they can un-sell one modality (orthodontics) simply because they are unable to provide it.