Dental Patient Education Truths

Dental Patient Education

In dental patient education series lets discuss the area of truths. Ever heard of the show “Shark Tank?” It’s ABC show where entrepreneur’s pitch their ideas to a panel of business experts. They grill the entrepreneur with questions about their business idea and occasionally an entrepreneur walks out with business funding (in exchange for giving up part of their business).

Mostly though the “contestants” get beaten up and their ideas and hopes are dashed to pieces on national TV. Whenever someone’s dream gets kicked to the curb there’s plenty of drama since after all this is “reality” TV.

Now if you pay close attention beyond the drama and hoo-haw to the reason why most are sent packing, it’s often because of one recurring mistake and error in thinking which is….

“If you have an overly complicated product or service that requires a lot of front-end consumer EDUCATION as in dental patient education, you have a problem.” The panel knows that if you are out to “educate” people into being buyers, you will have a hard time marketing whatever your idea is and they aren’t interested in investing.

The following truism in all business: education has its place but it is NOT part of front-end marketing to create a purchase or step.

Now think about dentistry and dental patient education seen through the real-world lens versus a distorted fantasy “dental world” lens.

How much of what we do is actually simple and already easily understandable to the lay public? Well, a few things but not a lot.

How much is actually pretty complicated and complex? Well, actually much of what we do AND most all advanced new procedures are far outside the layperson’s grasp of everyday knowledge.

Yet what do MOST dental practices do?

They are fully invested in the dental patient education model where they believe that if I educate the public they will come OR if I have better dental patient education protocols, widgets, or education scripts, my prospective patients will decide that some new advancement is right for them.If you want to see this in action, live and in real time, jump on Twitter and start to look at the tweets practices send out —99% educational. To date, I’ve yet to meet single patient saying “I went to Dr. So and So because I read their educational tweet on twitter.”   [FYI – you can follow me at @JRMcAnally If you direct message me I’ll reveal what the real value is in Twitter as a practice and it’s not what you (or any social media “expert” believes it to be.]

So, dental patient education is totally the wrong approach yet it is the norm. Why? Because it’s easier and it’s what “technician” type personalities find most comfortable.

You’ll find almost no “dental patient education” in the 20% of dental practices that perform the best and help the most patients. You will also find ZERO reference to dental patient education in the #1 case acceptance training for dentists with advanced educations, because, once again it doesn’t work. Nor will you find any reference to dental patient education in any advice coming from myself or anyone on my team related to marketing advice dispensed. You’ll also find no reference to dental patient education in either my newest niche marketing guide nor in the guide discussing 39 absolute essentials for being an ultra-successful fee for service practice. Are you seeing a pattern?

Here’s what’s more important than any dental patient education you could ever do.

You must first create all marketing, communication, and product/service sales (case acceptance protocols) and fulfillment (treatment) towards what patients already understand and already want most and at that moment. It’s not even rocket science. Here is what they want from you.

They want to: understand, for you to keep it simple, not be hassled by your or your team, and they especially don’t want you to hurt me. The business world as a whole is getting better at creating “painless” customer experiences so why not do the same in your practice?

The fact that some dentists still won’t give up scripts like, “I know that you came in here for an exam and cleaning but before we address that let’s talk about life changing dental veneers, orthodontics, implants, etc.”


“We don’t do regular cleanings, we optimize periodontal health. Now let me explain to you what periodontal diseases are and why your entire family needs to be checked immediately”

…..are more examples of simply being ignorant of what’s important to patients.

Anything like this two phrases occurring on Day 1 with a new patient is practice suicide yet day in and out it’s happening out there AND it’s not helping patients.

Now, even if you think that using dental patient education as either a marketing tool or selling tool is working for you, in a 5 minute conversation (or less) with any DDS, including you, I can show that it isn’t working that great.

So, if you find yourself having to first educate, defend, or convince…or if you FEEL like a car salesperson, the good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way.

You already know how patients act and what they already want from you regardless of how a patient shows up at the office.

Simply listen to them.

From now on, think of “dental patient education” as what patients do to educate YOU towards the path of success, the path to what they want from you, and (OMG) actually help more patients.

There’s not a lot of this real world thinking in the profession but I’d love to introduce you to it as part of teaching you an ethical sales process (case acceptance system) and with showing you exactly how to modify your marketing and marketing messages so you can leave others to keep themselves busy with dental patient education while you’re busy doing dentistry.

Check out my #1 top selling book on Amazon.