managing patient expectations

Dental Restorations Done Right: Managing Patient Expectations, Budget, and Time-Frames

Managing patient expectations is critical in your dental practice. Patients may not fully realize what is needed for a procedure, so communication is key. Dental restorations aren’t cheap, and for dentists, they are among the more complicated procedures to perform.

A set of crowns or veneers can easily run into the tens of thousands of dollars. For patients, dental prosthetics are a big investment, so it’s understandable that they want to get their money’s worth.

Dentists, meanwhile, want to provide the best care within budget and time constraints. The differing views between the dentist and the patient aren’t necessarily contradictory. However, there can be some important differences that need to be re-concealed.

Individual Factors That Dental Patients Care About

Managing patient expectations begins with your approach. Dentistry is one of those fields where the customer isn’t right by default. The dentist has to remain in charge. Of course, that doesn’t mean the dentist should ignore the patient or deny them input. A dentist should listen to their patients and should consider if there are ways to meet their needs. However, there’s a catch: the budget is boss.

Figure out the patient’s budget. Then, talk with the patient and let them know the type of dental prosthetic services you can provide within that budget. If a patient has a budget of $5,000 but is trying to get a dental job done that costs $10,000, it’s probably not going to work. It is vital for the dentist to make sure that the patient’s expectations are in line with the services that the dentist can provide within their budget.

Closely consider the look, feel, and quality of the final product. Patients have to live with the dental prosthetic, quite literally, so many will be quite picky. Some patients may care more about the look of their dental prosthetics than anything else.

Others will prioritize durability and longevity. Still, others will want top-notch performance in both aspects.  Consider the individual patient, and try to determine their priorities. Then, make your recommendations based on their priorities.

If their budget isn’t enough for their ideal dental prosthetic, consider other options that will fit within the patient’s budget. Explain the options and the outcomes, as well the differences between the more affordable option and more expensive ones.

If a patient’s expectations can’t be brought in line with their budget, then it may be best to let them walk. Doing so will cost you a patient in the short-term, but could save you from some headaches in the long run.

When Speedy Service Isn’t Always Best

Another important concept to consider when getting ready to install dental prosthetics is the time frame. Many patients can actually be put off by how quickly a dental prosthetic can be created and put in place, for example.

They come in to see you on Monday, and you’re ready to install the dental prosthetic on Wednesday. With patients spending such considerable sums on their dental prosthetics, this can be off-putting and difficult to deal with.

After all, patients are spending their hard earned money. And they are making a very large and important decision. Often, it’s best to slow down and let your patients sign off at every step of the way.

Yes, that can be a bit more time consuming on the dental practice’s end, but for patients, it can be comforting. Further, doing so helps dentists manage and set proper expectations.

But If Done Right, Speed Is a Good Thing

If patients are surprised by the speed of getting dental prosthetics, one way to reassure them is to let them know that you work with only the most advanced dental labs. The best dental labs use the best equipment, the highest-quality materials, and most importantly, the most skilled experts. As such, we can create fantastic dental prosthetics quickly while never skimping on quality.

In short, when it comes to dental prosthetics, always put the patient first. However, that means putting the patient’s budget first as well.

Talk with the patient, figure out their budget, and the time frame they are comfortable with. Then, determine if you can provide the dental prosthetic services that they expect with the budget they can afford. 

When you properly manage patient expectations, you can succeed where other practices may fail. This includes working with an efficient, high quality lab, as well as discussing priorities with your patients. Continuing to grow as a dentist will always help patient care!

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