As extraordinary as it may sound, your desire to become more involved with implants could actually be hindered by your dental training. Since we are taught to be experts in clinical procedures, we don’t graduate from dental school as experts in understanding patient emotions and desires.
The truth is that presenting treatment for implants is vastly different from presenting treatment for need-based services. Until dentists fully understand the difference, they cannot fully realise the potential of implants for their practice.
What patients want to know about implants
With few exceptions, patients simply want to know:
1. What is it?
2. What will it do for me?
3. How long will it take?
4. How much will it hurt?
5. How much will it cost?
Avoid technical jargon
Questions one, three, four and five should only require 10% each of the total time of the case presentation. Giving too much technical information often paralyses and confuses patients, thus compromising their final decisions. Keep in mind that patients are far more interested in the benefits of implants than in the technical aspects. That is why question two should receive a full 60% of the presentation time.
Dealing with emotions
Whenever you are dealing with an emotional decision, it is most important to emphasise the benefits. Emotional decisions are not based on facts but rather on enthusiasm, motivation and perception. To address this situation properly, patients must understand why they should invest time and money in an implant case. They want answers to the following questions:
• Will this improve the quality of my life?
• How will it improve the quality of my life?
• Is it worth taking the time to go through this?
• Will the pain be so great that I regret having done this?
• Am I making a bad decision?
If you can answer these questions in a compelling manner, you have addressed the emotional aspects of implant benefits. In addition, a number of secondary benefits should be discussed with patients such as cosmetics, beauty, looking younger, looking thinner, and the perception of achieving a better career and social life.
Find the ‘hot button’ issue
Levin Group trains clients to facilitate this entire process using specific steps and scripts. Ultimately, one of the best situations is if the dentist or team member can identify one overriding factor or important issue that means more to the patient than anything else. Is it the discomfort associated with dentures? Is it loss of bone? Is it feeling older? The displeasure of having to remove a denture? Or discomfort with cutting down other healthy teeth for a bridge?
Any of these questions can affect patients’ final decisions. If it is possible to identify one main reason why the patient believes that implant dentistry would be beneficial to his or her life, the dentist or team member should continue to emphasise that area.
If a particular patient is tired of taking a denture in and out, that should be the principal focus. In addition, there should be scripts for the dentist and team to assist in explaining how implants eliminate the need for removable prosthetics and how the patient will feel that he or she has his or her own natural teeth. Even if it is going to be a denture-retained implant case, the explanation regarding retention, slippage and discomfort can take place.
Once you know the ‘hot button’ issue for a particular patient, you know where to place your emphasis. In the end, you stand a much higher chance of gaining case acceptance.
Be a leader in implant dentistry
Dental implants are one of the finest and highest quality of life services that a dentist can provide for patients. However, it cannot be explained as simply a technical service or the logical thing to do. Emotion is the overriding factor in patient decision-making. Due to the methodical, rigid nature of their clinical training, most dentists are prepared to discuss procedures – not emotions.
Psychology and behaviour play a major role in implant case acceptance. It is important to present cases based on an understanding of people’s motivations and emotions. Practices that do this will be the leaders in implant dentistry.