The top reasons for failed anterior and posterior restorations—and how to address them
A lot of research has been done on the different generations, from baby boomers to Gens X, Y and now Z. This research often tries to give insight into the behaviors and attitudes of a generation as a whole and may provide value to dentists and teams in many ways, including helping them improve their communication style and delivery to different age groups.
Even as generational information may be insightful in terms of general messaging, another possibly more relevant and personal way to understand patients is by life stage—the phase in life a person is in, such as being single, independent and working; being a parent of young children; or being an “empty nester.” As a generation enters a new life stage, it often generates a lot of attention from researchers and the media. For example, around 2011 the first wave of baby boomers reached 62 or retirement age, which prompted many articles that sought to explore and define how this generation might affect health care, business and communities as it steps out of the workplace.
Not surprisingly, boomers have affected dentistry because dental needs often change as people age. More than 5 million implants are placed every year and that number is growing, fueled in part by the aging Gen X and baby boomer generations. In fact, the number of people with missing teeth will increase to more than 200 million over the next 15 years.1
Let’s talk life stage—with your patients
It’s important to remember that life events may influence the need for products and services, which may change with marriage, homeownership, growing a family, empty nest and retirement. Many of these events may require additional financial resources.
Creating a dialogue helps the team understand that patients may have other financial needs and wants, so the right solutions and financial options can be offered. It can be helpful to consistently write notes in the file as patients share insights into their lives and review them before their appointments.
“Mrs. Smith, I know it’s only been about six months since we last saw you here, but it seems like forever. Tell me, what’s been happening in your life? I remember we talked about your son at your last appointment … has he graduated yet?”
“Not yet. He’s set to graduate in just a few weeks.”
“Wow. So, is he college-bound in the fall?”
“Yes, he is. He got accepted at the state university. I’m going to miss him!”
“Mr. Jones, before you head back to meet with Dr. Brown, is there any information that needs to be updated in your file? Address, contact information?”
“Actually, yes! We bought a new house. Our new address is …”
“Well, congratulations. I remember when we bought our house; the first thing that went out was the air conditioning—right before summer. How is your new house doing?”
“Funny you should say that. With us, it was our water heater. …”
“Mr. Green, thank you for choosing our practice as your new dental home and for taking the time to fill out your patient forms. A question we wish was on the form that we like to ask all new patients is, what are you looking forward to in the next few months? With summer coming up, I’m sure you have a great answer to that question.”
“Yes, actually I do. My daughter is getting married in June.”
“That’s definitely a great answer. You must be very excited. Would it be OK if I shared that information with Dr. Brown when I introduce you to her?”
Providing several payment options, including a health care credit card, may be the solution that enables patients to enjoy their life events and have a healthy and more beautiful smile.
“Mr. Roberts, as the doctor discussed, you have a few options to replace that missing tooth, but the one that the doctor recommends is a more permanent solution, which is an implant. As you know, your benefits will contribute some towards the cost of the implant, but you will have an out-of-pocket investment. I want to provide you with payment solutions that may work for you. We have several payment options available because many of our patients have other financial needs and wants—everything from car and home repairs to vacations and college funds.”
“You’re so right. I found out two days ago that my car needs about $2,500 worth of repairs. I have to have my car. I don’t have to have an implant.”
“I understand. What if we had a way for you to get the implant and pay over time, so you can take care of your car and your teeth? Would you be interested?”
“We believe the implant solution will help you avoid additional expense and dental needs in the future. That’s why we do what we can to help you get the best care possible. But understanding finances is important. You said you’d like more time to pay. If so, we accept the CareCredit health care credit card.”
“I don’t want another credit card.”
“I absolutely understand your concern. But a health care credit card is not the same as general-purpose credit cards; it can only be used for health-related expenses. And you may be able to take advantage of special financing and can pay monthly if approved. Would you like to see what your monthly payment might be?”
“Mrs. Smith, I’m so excited to hear you and your husband are finally going to take that vacation you’ve been talking about. It must be exciting to have the time now to do the things you really want to do. As the doctor discussed, you have a few options to replace that missing tooth, but the one he recommends is the more permanent solution: an implant. I believe you discussed the benefits of an implant with him and that’s the treatment you would prefer.”
“Yes, I would definitely prefer an implant. My mom had dentures, and that’s something I just don’t want.”
“I totally understand. The cost of your procedure will be $3,200. Your dental benefits will contribute about $800 to that total, which means your responsibility is $2,400. To make it as easy as possible for you to fit this dentistry into your other financial priorities, we have several payment options. May I share them with you?”
“We of course accept cash, credit cards and a health care credit card, which can help patients who have other financial needs and wants or simply prefer more time to pay for their dentistry. Which of those options would work for you?”
Understanding the life events and subsequent expenses patients may have can help dental teams provide the solutions that enable patients to accept recommended treatment. Often, to be able to fill the gap in patients’ smiles with an implant may mean helping them fill the gap between the cost of care and their insurance benefits.
1. Dental Implants Facts and Figures. American Academy of Implant Dentistry.