Countering low cost and convenience – encourage patients to think long-term instead

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  Posted by: Dental Design      26th August 2022

Two of the biggest challenges facing dentistry at the moment are not new. First, that patients have become consumers who shop around and weigh up their options. This was happening before the pandemic hit but since, with waiting times still an issue, if they can’t see their preferred dentist and would rather get started on treatment sooner rather than later, they know they can go elsewhere.

Thanks to the internet and social media, they have more access to information than ever, to research techniques they are interested in. The positive picture – that patients are motivated, have done their homework and want to invest time and money in dentistry – does have a downside. If your practice is fielding queries like, “I read about XYZ online, can I get this here?”, among the possible negatives are unrealistic expectations, particularly if they need to improve their oral health, but want a better smile, fast.

When you’re managing these expectations, you risk them taking themselves and their spending power to a different dentist. This isn’t only about cost, of course, but does bring us on to the next challenge facing the profession, which is that rising inflation means everything is getting more expensive, and people will be reprioritising how they spend any disposable income.

Will we see a decrease in elective dentistry, because of the cost of living crisis? In 2021, we saw the phrase “boom” used a lot, following reports that practises were seeing a surge in requests for things like composite bonding, whitening and ‘invisible’ ortho. The future was bright, dentistry was not only recovering but thriving, as patients were using money saved from no commuting/holidays etc., to take control and pay for treatment to look better physically and feel good emotionally.

We’re half way through 2022, with warnings about an even tighter squeeze on household budgets come the autumn. We cannot expect people to not consider options that are cheaper. One scenario is someone who has done their research, perhaps spoken to a practice, then goes abroad for treatment, confident that they have all the information they need, and are comfortable with the risks involved.

Dental procedures remain one of the most common procedures for medical tourists and anyone who did travel overseas for whitening, and it was successful, will point out that dental treatment is never risk-free. But if things do go wrong, it can be costly and potentially traumatic to make things right. Perhaps you cannot offer guaranteed sunshine and a thrown-in holiday, but what you can do is ensure you are offering them a quality experience, that is worth their investment.

Some practices have benefitted from the addition of a treatment coordinator, particularly if it is difficult to speak to the dentist, to build positive relationships with patients. If no resources for a treatment coordinator, the rest of the team should come together, to support an individual’s decision to say “yes”. If cost is an issue for reluctance, they should be reassured that you are offering a gold-standard service, including a bespoke, tailored treatment plan, covering long-term maintenance. The dentistry will be delivered by a safe and well-structured practice with efficient workflows in place to ensure a smooth journey from the start. It will also be ethical, with an experienced and well-trained clinician using quality materials and tools to treat the teeth in a conservative way, with minimal prep to protect and preserve tooth structure, and reduce any stress on the healthy tissue. The provenance of your materials, tools and instruments are another selling point for empowered patients who know their stuff, so choose wisely. The LM instrument portfolio available from J&S Davis, including the LM-Arte Kit for aesthetic restorations and designed for composite layering, enables easy, efficient and quick treatments. Trusted by professionals around the world, they support an excellent result, first time.

Going for the cheapest, also most accessible (wait-free) option is a persuasive argument for patient-consumers who know that the choice is all theirs, about where to go for their treatment. Your counter-offer should balance cost and convenience with collaboration, for an outcome that endures long after they’ve left the practice. No treatment comes with a lifetime guarantee – the patient must fully understand their role; the practises and behaviours that will help them stay in oral health and keep the result stable for as long as possible, including regular maintenance visits.

That is why truly great dentistry cannot be completed in a holiday. Patients who know what they want and are willing to have their expectations managed (not compromised) deserve treatment that, if it costs a little bit more, is delivered by a team that is truly invested in them, their health and wellbeing. This means a team who wants to establish lifelong relationships and only uses the highest quality materials, tools and instruments as part of its offer of gold-standard care.


For more information on the industry-leading products available from J&S Davis, please visit the website, call: 01438 747 344 or email:


Steve Brown Director of Sales and Marketing J&S Davis Ltd

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