The invisible dental implant patient

Current Issue , Practice Management
Editor’s intro: Read about Dr. Levin’s strategies to help identify potential patients and excite, energize, and motivate them to choose implant treatment. 

Dr. Roger P. Levin answers some questions that can help to expand an implant practice

Question: How can I identify more potential implant patients for my practice?

Answer: There probably aren’t many people who haven’t heard about dental implants or have a basic understanding of their benefits. This is vastly different than in 1985 when implants were relatively new, and a great deal of time was spent trying to prove to specialists and general dentists that dental implants were a viable service that would be successful. There was a great deal of debate as to the best type of implant, implant coating, and other biological factors. And while there still may be some deliberation over what type of implant is most successful, dental implants are now widely accepted.

Given that, your focus should now be on reaching the “invisible implant patient.” This is the patient who, despite already knowing that dental implants are successful and can enhance the quality of life, never presents for a consult and may not even visit a dentist regularly. These patients may be from a lower, middle, or even upper socioeconomic background. And as insurance patients, they haven’t been exposed to implants through their coverage and fear that the implants are too expensive or painful.

When thinking about your approach to this type of patient, it may help to consider this analogy. In the 1940s, orthodontic care was only for the rich, as an orthodontic case at that time rivaled the cost of a new car. When dental insurance began to cover orthodontics, it became more and more mainstream and is now considered a rite of passage for anyone desiring a great smile regardless of their income bracket.

Third molars in oral surgery are another good example of how a new dental service became a go-to dental treatment. Third molars were deemed to be unhealthy and prone to significant infection; however, they caused a much more complex and painful extraction for adult patients. As insurance coverage broadened to cover an increasing number of patients, the number of third molar cases expanded as well. Third molar removal is now considered a biological health necessity.

There is a slightly increasing amount of insurance coverage for dental implants; however, it is nowhere near the coverage of orthodontic care or third molar removal. This is why there are still so many invisible implant patients. So how do we begin to access the invisible implant patient in an interdisciplinary care environment?

Summary

All new dental services must go through a stage of gaining legitimacy both within the profession and with early adopter patients. As that service becomes more mainstream, it will take deliberate marketing strategies to excite, energize, and motivate potential patients. Use the strategies outlined here to reach and motivate the invisible implant patients and grow your implant production.

After you identify potential patients, offering them information in the right way can help improve their care. Read what Dr. Steven Enea says in “Dental implant education — what you and your patients deserve”.