The Back Door to an Abundance of Cosmetic Patients

I have observed a common challenge that dentists face. You enjoy doing one aspect of dentistry much more than other aspects. Because you enjoy that aspect, you naturally want to do more. The common example today is dentists who want to do more cosmetic dental procedures. Many want to change the “procedure mix” they perform, performing more cosmetic procedures and less of other types of procedures. Sound familiar?


Dentists altered their marketing to attempt to change their procedure mix. To attract more cosmetic patients, many dentists focus their marketing on the patient seeking cosmetic dentistry. The first dentist in any market initially had great success. But go to any major city in the nation today, look at the Yellow Pages and you will see page after page of ads for cosmetic dentists. Only 5% of patients choose a dentist because they want cosmetic dentistry. As the number of practices chasing this very narrow slice of the dental market increased, the success of this strategy dwindled. Marketing your practice as a cosmetic dentistry practice will do two things. First, it will attract patients that want cosmetic procedures (again about 5% of the market). Secondly, it will repel all other patients. The question becomes this: with the crowded arena of cosmetic dentistry marketing, will you be able to attract enough patients to thrive? It is a tough game. One Dallas area cosmetic practice is spending $125k each month on marketing and advertising activities. These activities are attracting 50 new patients. If spending $2500 to attract a new patient sounds like a high risk venture, I can tell you it is. So what is the best strategy in today’s market?

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Want to expand the cosmetic dentistry your practice performs? It’s a math game. 5% of patients seek cosmetic dentistry, yet cosmetic dentistry makes up a much larger proportion of most dental procedures, proving that patients who are not initially drawn to cosmetic dentistry will purchase it when offered. Draw in more new patients, present cosmetic options well (Dr. Brian Gilbert’s highly successful method is detailed on The One Thing CD series) and you’ll do more cosmetic dentistry. More dentistry, more cosmetic dentistry.


But wait, that doesn’t change the procedure mix does it? It doesn’t but, it is the first step. Step #2 comes when your clinic time is completely full. When your time is fully utilized it is time for an associate. An associate can perform more of the general dentistry procedures, freeing up your time for the more complex cosmetic dentistry procedures. You may be thinking that an associate would be unfulfilled by this arrangement. Not so, many dentists do not enjoy the difficulty and the precision of cosmetic dentistry. Just because you enjoy some aspect of dentistry don’t think that everyone will.


Cleary defining the roll of each team member is a critical leadership responsibility. When recruiting an associate to fill a particular roll, full disclosure of that roll is a must. If an associate accepts their roll before even joining the practice, they will be more likely to excel in the defined roll.