Episode 213 – Requested Replay: The Waiting is the Hardest Part

“You’re not doing your patients any favors because their dentistry is going to get more expensive every year you watch and wait.” ~Dr. Bruce B. Baird

Waiting and watching. Why do dentists do that?

Why, when you have a patient come to you with a total trainwreck in their mouth, would you only do a single crown and then wait to see how the rest of their teeth fare in six months or a year? You already know the situation in their mouth will only deteriorate with time. You also know you are the person to do something about it now.

What is preventing you from providing your patients with comprehensive treatment? Do you feel a lack of confidence in your clinical skills? Are you relying too much on insurance to make decisions for you and your patients? Or do you just lack the verbal skills necessary to get your patients to agree to treatment? In this episode of The Productive Dentist Podcast, we will explore the reasons dentists hesitate to provide comprehensive treatment, and what you can do to overcome these obstacles in order to provide your patients with the care they need, while boosting your practice’s productivity, allowing you to collect more.

In this episode, I want you to focus on these three takeaways:

  • Enough waiting and watching. Learn why it’s important to provide comprehensive treatment to your patients who need it now, and overcome the obstacles preventing you from doing so
  • Boost your confidence. Discover strategies for building your clinical skills and confidence in your own dental abilities.
  • Improve communication. There is nothing sadder in dentistry than a dentist who has all the clinical skills in the world, and zero verbal skills to convince your patients to get the dentistry they need.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Dr. Bruce Baird 2:01
Hi, this is Dr. Bruce Baird with The Productive Dentist Podcast. today’s podcast, I wanted to talk a little bit about Weight Watchers. You know, I don’t know how many of you guys, you know, have ever done Wait Watchers, but Wait Watchers is for losers and I got this information from my partner, Victoria, who I heard her speak into somebody about this and it just really hit home and yeah, I need to lose a little but not in the field of dentistry. What am I talking about? Well, Wait Watchers, let’s wait and watch. Why did dentists do that you? Well, you get in on your you know, you do your examination and you say, “This Johnson, you have a broken tooth here and we need to do a crown on it. You have a few others that are you know kind of breaking down also, but I really think we could wait and watch those,” or they just go through and just tell people pretty much everything in their mouth needs to be just watched, let’s keep an eye on it, in Texas that’s what we do. So why is that? I mean, I started asking questions and talking to some individuals. I was at Paul Goodman’s Dental Nacho events and lots of young dentists there and that topic actually came up and I was thinking to myself, why do people wait? Why do they watch things and I can only come up with just a few reasons. One reason is they don’t know how to do the procedure, you know, or they’re not comfortable doing the procedure. I can you know, as a young dentist, you know, especially post-pandemic, I mean, some of the students, you know, they didn’t get to do a lot of dentistry, they did a lot of stuff at home and there was lots of testing at home and things were done on Zoom meeting. Well, obviously that’s a concern, but they’re not all that comfortable doing a crown. So, which sounds crazy, but it is true. There are people out there that it might take them an hour and a half to cut a crown prep and I always kind of joke with people who says, “I can cut a tooth off at the gumball end in about 20 seconds.”

Dr. Bruce Baird 4:25
So why does it take so long to cut that crown prep? Well, it’s just a lack of confidence and a lack of experience and so there are people out there that are really doing it, doing some great education and teaching. I know Lincoln Harris, he’s he’s an Australian buddy that was actually election this weekend, they have an entire program to help dentists get better at their treatment planning. So I think if you really think about it, that is one reason is just not confident. Another reason which is more cynical, in my opinion, is they only tell the patient they need one thing done and not the rest of it is because insurance isn’t going to cover it. We’ve talked about this before 95% of all crowns done in the USA, or done one at a time and why is that? Well, because you tell the patient in the three crowns or four crowns, or four giant fillings or four whatever, and the patient has the response, “What will my insurance cover?” Well, your team comes in and says why your insurance is gonna cover 1500, which is a standard statement, because most insurance companies cover 1500, if you have one that covers more great. Of course, you guys know, I hate insurance companies, because they have no interest in whether you’re successful, or whether the patient gets any dentistry done or not. They’re only interested in profits and the PPO is or even worse, because there many times not even directly attached to a, a insurance company. It’s just basically offering discounts to patients and the patients are paying them, but you know, so what happens to you is after you hear these patients saying, “What will my insurance cover?” And you say, or your team says, “It’s going to be 3300, and your portion will be 1800, insurance is going to cover 1500.” What is a patient say? Well, they say, “Can we just do one?” And most of most teams have heard this over and over and over again for however long they’ve been in dentistry because this has been going on for a long time and what it does, subliminally I think, it conditions, dentists, to say, “Let’s watch this.” Well, I’m going to use an analogy. What if you went to your heart doctor and you know, and is dentistry, does that equate to the heart? Well, we know that there are things that happen in the mouth that do affect, can increase risk of heart attack, stroke, all of these things, whether it be periodontal, whether it be infections in the bone, all of these things can affect the rest of the body but you went to your heart surgeon and he said, “You know, I really think we can fix this LAD, which is the Widowmaker. We can, let’s put a stent in that, but let’s keep a watch on these other two, they’re only blocked at 40%.”

Dr. Bruce Baird 7:40
Now, would that make sense to you? Would that make sense? Would you want your doc doing that? No, I mean, when people come to see you, as your health care provider, as a health care provider, what are you, what are we told to do in our ADA code of ethics? It’s a comprehensive evaluation of the needs of the patient. It’s not the needs of the insurance company, because the insurance company needs you to only do one cramp. Why? Because then that’s all they have to pay, they get to keep the rest of the money and their profits go up. So why is it that Wait Watchers becomes a big symptom in dentistry, because, you know, it’s because insurance will not cover it. Another reason that people wait and watch, you know, number one was, they don’t really have the skill set to sell it. I’ve seen that happen, oftentimes with big crown and bridge cases or anything like that, where they’ve just gone to, oh, LBI or, or Penkey, or Spear or Kois and they come home, they have the skill, but they don’t necessarily have the confidence. You know, skill without confidence also causes people to wait and watch. Confidence without skill causes people to wait and watch. So really, it’s a matter of building this confidence and skill together so that you don’t end up on Wait Watchers because what happens when you’re on Wait Watchers in the dental industry is you slim down your profits, you slim down what your production per hour is, because of those reasons. So one reason was, you know, you don’t have the skill. The other reason is insurance, you know, and another reason when you think about it is they just don’t have the verbal skills to get a patient to understand that they actually need this work done and so, you know, when you don’t have confidence when you’re always having patients saying no, that again starts to build this subliminal message to the dentist and to your team that says, “It’s okay just to do one at a time. It’s okay to do a little bit here and a little bit there,” and, and what what you can be very confident about, you know, you may not be confident about some of the things you’ve done, but what you can be very awkward is, you’re not really doing the patients any favors, because their dentistry is gonna get more expensive every single year you watch and wait.

Dr. Bruce Baird 10:29
Now, so if you think about this, it’s not something you really want to be doing. You know, why not learn? You don’t have to have 100 new patients a month or 200 new patients a month to be profitable you do if you’re doing one crown at a time and that’s where you see all of these people, I don’t know how many messages I have. I’ve deleted at least three messages this morning emails, or LinkedIn that people have called me to, or have sent me messages to say, “Would you like to have more patients?” And, you know, they don’t have any understanding of dentistry, they just know that they can use social media, and can get patients to come into your office 50% of those don’t show up and the rest of that do really don’t need any dentistry. It was just it’s kind of a ploy that tries to get people in and I don’t want people that don’t need dentistry anyway. So if I look at this situation, I don’t need tons of new patients, I just need to do a comprehensive exam on every new patient that comes in and that’s the philosophy of Productive Dentist Academy. Do we do a comprehensive, full-blown exam on a teenager? No, that’s a different animal, we have kids that come home from college, you know, if they’re 20 to 24, 25, they can come get their teeth cleaned, unless they have an immediate need, but we mark it more towards what I’ve always told you guys, we market more towards the train wreck. Why do we want treatments? Because they need a lot of dentistry and I can help them and you can help them, you know. So what one of the things I said from the state stage this weekend was as a young dentist and original dentist, that’s on Wait Watchers, it doesn’t matter how old you are, there’s a lot of dentists that are on Wait Watchers and so as a dentist that’s on Wait Watchers, go and get every bit of CE you want to get early on in your career, if possible. If not gonna learn comprehensive skills, learn how to do comprehensive damage and if you’re a drill and fill guy that just likes to do one thing at a time, or one crown at a time, then don’t do that but I really don’t want to go to your office. I mean, I don’t want to come to you as an expert in the mouth and dentistry if all you’re going to do is do whatever makes you feel good.

Dr. Bruce Baird 12:58
I want you to tell me what the real deal is and how do I do that. That’s where the communication skills come in, that’s where asking permission, that’s where having a set protocol for how do I do my comprehensive exam and when you do that, what you’re going to find is that not only are you going to produce more dentistry, not only are you going to collect more for your business, but you’re actually going to be a win-win, you’re going to take care of more people. It’s nothing sadder in dentistry than a dentist who has all the skills and no verbal skills. They have all the clinical skills, but no verbal skills to be able to actually get a patient to say yes. Now, is everybody going to say yes, no and that’s, you know, and those are the things that really bothered me about Wait Watchers, you know and I want you to know that there are other reasons too, there are other things that can be done. We’ve talked about compassionate finance, we’ve talked about financing, finding ways for people to be able to say yes to all their treatment that falls within, yes, some financing, but it also falls within the verbal skills to allow people to utilize that financing. So, I don’t know, I hope you guys enjoy today’s podcast. It’s something that really bugs me, because I always ask doctors when I go get my elbow checked or my shoulder check. I tell him, “What would you do if it was you?” Now, I don’t think you’d do it if it was you. I don’t think you would just say one crown at a time in your own mouth if you had a lot of work that needed to be done. You know, if you’re like me, I want to have all my work done in with a couple of pills and sound asleep and get it done today all of it and so that’s what I’m gonna leave you with today. Tell your friends about Productive Dentist Podcast, we were voted number three podcast in dentistry this year and so I’m pretty excited about that. Thank you guys for spreading the word. I’m not the usual podcaster which you know invites, you know hundreds of people on the show, we had people on before, but I just feel like I’ve got so much, so much stuff up here in my head that I want to get out. When that ends I’ll probably start inviting guests. So anyway, have a great week. I look forward to next week’s podcast.

Dr. Bruce Baird 15:16
Thank you for joining me for this episode of the Productive Dentist Podcast. If you found this episode helpful, make sure you subscribe, pass it along to a friend, give us a like on iTunes and Spotify or drop me an email at podcast@productivedentist.com don’t forget to check out other podcasts from the Productive Dentist Academy of productivedentistpodcast.com Join me again next week for another episode of the Productive Dentist Podcast

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