For many years of my dental practice, I had a different answer than I do today. I now see and understand things differently.

Recently, while mentoring the Facially Generated Treatment Plan seminar, I had the chance to chat with one of the students. I raised a question that relates to the philosophy of practice. I want them to think not just about what they are learning but, more importantly, why and how they will use this new information and how they will present it to staff and patients.

As we were chatting, I asked the question, “What are your patients paying you for?” Very quickly, the answer came, “My dentistry.”

They pay you for your crowns, fillings and cleanings? He nodded yes. I used to think that was true as well.

dental patient payment value

So why should a patient come to your office rather than another office that can sell them this dentistry more cheaply? Now there was a pause; you could hear the wheels turning, and then came the words, “because I am a good dentist.”

So who is that bad dentist we all talk about? Is it that dentist down the road that runs a dental mill? They also provide crowns, fillings and cleanings for a fee. Are they bad, or just different? Somebody does appreciate what they provide, because they are still operating; probably at a profit.

Care, skill, judgment, experience and expectations are what set you apart from the crowd. When I first heard this, I did not understand. It took time for me to grow into this concept.

Caring for a patient is having the time to take your time. Show your concern and listen to what your patient has to say. Being empathetic and attentive is key. In today’s world of electronic records, I still like to sit knee-to-knee facing my patient, looking at them as they talk with me and taking hand-written notes.

Most dentists will work to improve their skills. We all graduate from dental school with a basic knowledge and start to learn our profession. At some point, usually about five to 10 years into practice, things start not going well and we realize that we need to know and understand more. Spear Education is one path that will help you become what you want to be. 

The judgment we use in formulating a diagnosis will grow over time as we learn more and have opened our eyes to what we now see. Many times, I get to see a patient for a second opinion or a new patient that presents with a problem after recent dental work. Most times, I am directed to the answer by the end of the interview. Then we gather data to support our thoughts.

happy dental patient

Experience and expectations go hand-in-hand. From the patient's first contact to the moment they walk out the door, each aspect should be well-orchestrated. Does your website reflect what sets you apart from others? Is the person answering your phone pleasant, speaking clearly and knowledgeable of the office and procedures? Is the office clean and neat? And so on. 

Look at each detail and decide for yourselves as a team how the details should be coordinated.

I have had this conversation with my son, a young attorney. We both sell our services. But what sets us apart from others, what a patient/client is paying us for, is our care, skill and judgment.

We want to exceed their expectations and give them a great experience with us.  We want to “wow” them so they are glad to refer others to us.

Good luck on your journey,

Carl Steinberg, DDS, MAGD, LLSR




Commenter's Profile Image Dennis T.
October 23rd, 2017
Hello Carl Steinberg, thank you for posting such a thoughtful article which seem to resonate deep within.
Commenter's Profile Image Carl S.
October 24th, 2017
Thanks Dennis for the kind words. A friend texted me that she shared this article at a team meeting. I am glad that it can be inspiring Carl