“Some will. Some won’t. Some wait. So what? Next!”
I don’t know who coined this aphorism. But, I believe I first heard it from Dr. Bill Blatchford. I was reminded of it last week when a patient scheduled to start 6 Month Smiles orthodontic treatment. This patient first came to me for a 6 Month Smiles consultation in 2010! I hadn’t seen her since then.
I get my fair share of cosmetic consultations. While I haven’t kept any statistics on how many go through with treatment, I’ll admit it’s probably a small minority. Likewise, I suspect Ferrari dealerships see far more “tire kickers” than actual buyers.
I Want You to Want Me…
Dentists are caring, sensitive creatures who take rejection personally. And, as is human nature, we tend to avoid situations that result in disappointment. Humans will do almost anything to avoid emotional pain, and for dentists this can eventually translate into avoiding the presentation of complex or expensive treatment plans.
We may start out ambitious by presenting the top-of-the-line to all of our patients. But, after being beaten down repeatedly, many of us eventually “fall into line.”
Dr. Blatchford tries to deprogram or desensitize dentists from this self-defeating attitude with his aphorism that might be mistakenly dismissed as a vacuous platitude.
Not only does the avoidance of presenting ideal or “the best” treatment hurt the practice, it unwittingly harms patients. Patients deserve to know their options… ALL of them.
The reality is that nearly all dental treatment is elective, except infected or painful teeth, which must be removed or treated. We’re not generally dealing with life and death health issues. People CAN live without teeth. If a patient rejects your recommended treatment, it’s NOT a “failure.” It was simply an opportunity. We call this the “practice” of dentistry. And, each consultation is an opportunity to practice our case presentation skills.
Snap out of it!
If you’re offering truly elective cosmetic treatments such as smile makeovers, full mouth rehabs, and other cosmetic treatments, you have to get used to rejection. Many patients don’t have any idea about what that type of treatment costs. Some, expecting that a full smile makeover is a couple thousand dollars, are floored when they hear the fees are closer to the price of a nice car. So, they may politely smile and then run out the door. Some have to think about it (or talk to a spouse). Some come back soon. Some come back later… sometimes much later. Some never come back. So what? “Just keep swimming!”
But, the same is true for garden-variety restorative treatment plans… even a single tooth. In fact, I find it MORE challenging to present treatment for non-painful caries on a single tooth than it is for more comprehensive or cosmetic cases. In the end, I simply follow the simple philosophy of treating patients the same as I would for my own family or a friend. I’m just honest. And, I also accept that I cannot “care” more than the patient cares.
Don’t let it get you down! Wayne Gretzky famously said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” I get rejected a LOT. But, I also win some. And, that’s how I get to do the cases I’ve shared on the internet dental forums over the years.
Not every patient is ready for treatment. Be there when they ARE ready. Never give up!