The Value of Dentistry

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I have been reading a book recently called Everything is Marketing: The Ultimate Strategy for Dental Practice Growth by Fred Joyal that inspired me to write this post. There are many ideas from Fred’s book that I include in this post because I feel that our patients should consider them and learn from them. Now lets get to it!

It seems more and more common for people to forego necessary dental treatment. Why is this the case? Because a lot of the time, there is no perceived value in dental work. There are a lot of campaigns in the media that explain the benefits and necessities of regular health screenings, especially regarding cancer, but hardly any that explain the benefits and needs of dentistry. The message that is broadcast through television, on billboards, and in magazines explains the value in catching cancer in the early stages so that it can be more treatable. This in turn makes us constantly aware of the dangers associated with symptoms of potentially lethal health issues. Pain in your chest and shoulder along with shortness of breath are common symptoms of a heart attack, and the things that you’ve learned from the media tell you to get to a doctor as soon as possible. You know from the media that women need to start getting breast exams every three years starting around age 20 and yearly exams at age 40. If you’ve reached the age of 50, you know that you’re probably past due for a colonoscopy. These are all examples of widely known health concerns that have more value in your mind because there is more emphasis in big advertising to make them known.

When was the last time you saw a commercial that said something like, “Are you on track with your dental check-ups? Did you know that you can avoid potentially life threatening diseases and expensive procedures by maintaining good oral health? Make sure you visit your dentist every 6 months.” I can’t recall the last time I saw a commercial explaining the value of dentistry. Have you seen any billboards that persuade you to brush and floss daily? If you have, I would like to see it, because it would be a first for me. Dentists don’t have the help from the media like other health professionals do, and that is reflected by the patients willingness to accept treatment. The truth is, most people forego expensive dental treatment because it is elective and they need to see the value in it, they need to be sold on it. If it is going to cost you $650.00 (assuming you have insurance, otherwise it would be close to $1500.00) to have a root canal done and a crown placed then you’re going to need to understand the value of having those procedures done. Those that don’t see the value in preserving as much of their natural tooth as possible will probably instead elect a $75.00 extraction of the problem tooth.

When you break your arm, you go to the hospital, the doctor tells you it needs to be placed correctly and later put in a cast to heal. You are going to do what the doctor tells you, because you trust the doctor’s knowledge and experience and it helps you see the value in getting the bone set correctly and having a cast placed to allow for proper healing. You almost don’t have a choice in that situation, either follow his council or have a bummed arm for life. Alternatively, when you come to the dentist and he tells you that two of your molars need fillings and another needs a root canal you might think he is giving you options. Although it is true that you must accept the treatment before the dentist will continue, the majority of people in that situation will think to get the root canal done first because it is hurting them, and wait on the other two fillings because they’re not even sensitive yet. The problem a lot of people in that scenario don’t realize is that they are needing a root canal probably because they put off getting a small cavity fixed in the past! They felt it was elective to get that small filling done in the past, and since there isn’t anyone except their dentist to explain the value of dentistry, they put it off and waited until it hurt. They could’ve paid a small co-pay of around $35.00 for the filling when the dentist first diagnosed it, but now they are going to fork out $400.00 for the root canal, and another $350.00 for the crown (again assuming they have insurance). Truth is, a small cavity is not going to get any better. It is only going to become a bigger problem that will cause tooth pain and a longer recovery, not to mention the strain it will put on your pocket book as well. Do you see where I’m going with this? There is value in getting ALL the diagnosed treatment done as soon as possible, no matter how small it may seem.

Other factors that influence your treatment acceptance are the various things competing for your money. Our main competitors here at Family Legacy Dental aren’t the new dental offices that have opened in the area, nor the office near by that just got all new equipment and upgraded technology. The main competitors we face are things and companies like Disneyland, Vegas Vacations, Cruise Ships, LG Televisions, Sony Entertainment, Cinemark, and every other elective place out there to spend your money. These competitors spend billions of dollars a year in advertising so that you will find value in making a purchase with them. In the example above, when faced with the decision to pay the $35.00 co-pay for each tooth ($70.00 total) to get the small cavities fixed, the person might put it off because they see more value in going to see the new movie release. Imagine all the money that person would’ve saved by getting ALL the treatment done when it was diagnosed instead of waiting until it was a bigger and more costly problem. Seeing value in dentistry will save you money.

Others may say they understand the value of dentistry, but they just don’t have the money. I honestly believe that is true in some cases. But when you look at the American consumer as a whole, that is not our nature. When we want something, we will find the money. We are impulsive buyers and we purchase things based on the value we see. We will clip coupons to save 50 cents at the grocery store but the next day we will go out and buy a $250 pair of sunglasses. If cost were the deciding factor, then why do we have places like Nordstrom, True Religion, Express, Chanel, Giorgio Armani, and Louis Vuitton? Even in a struggling economy, some of these places are still growing. The cost of dentistry really isn’t the issue. If we truly understood the value and lasting effects that good oral health has on our overall health, then the fees associated dentistry wouldn’t affect your decision. Understanding the value in dentistry will improve your health.

At Family Legacy Dental, we try our best to help you understand the value of dentistry through our caring doctors and staff. We provide a kind and devoted approach to your case that help us find what benefit you are looking for and what you expect to get out of your visits with us. That in turn helps us explain to you the value of dentistry, from regular check-ups to extensive treatment, tailored to your needs and wants. We know that investing your resources in completing diagnosed dental treatment will not only save you time and money, but it will also better your overall health.