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  07.29.05 Issue #177

"Selling" Quality Care

Jean Gallienne RDH BS
Hygiene Consultant McKenzie Management

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I often considered going into a sales position in dentistry. However, most of the distribution and manufacturing companies want prior sales experience. The interesting thing is that they were talking about selling copy machines, cars, or cell phone services. Well, as a Hygienist I have always considered myself as the closer when it comes to “selling” the treatment plan the doctor has presented to the patient. I have experience in sales. I sell dentistry. Something that many people are afraid of and do not really “want” to have.

Do you view “selling” dentistry as unprofessional? Do you find it hard to reinforce your doctor's treatment plans? If so, the first thing we need to do is work on your way of thinking. Encouraging your patients to get the treatment needed is the best thing you can do for them as a clinician. Walking around with decay on the mesial of #8 is not helping the oral health of your patient. Therefore it is your professional, ethical, and moral responsibility to reinforce and “sell” the dentistry that has been diagnosed by the doctor.

I am not talking about high-pressure sales. I am talking about honest, compassionate, knowledge sharing and relationship building sales. Treating your patients like they are friends or family. Which I have to say that having worked with many of my patients for fifteen plus years, they are my friends. Therefore, if I did not take the time to educate and verify that they understand the diagnosed treatment, I would think that I was being unprofessional, unethical, and not providing the quality of care that has always been the most important thing to me.

The first question and comment I say to a new patient when they sit in my chair are, “What questions, comments, or concerns do you have about the treatment the doctor has recommended? I would love to explain anything that you may want to know about. That is why I am here. Part of my job is to educate you as much as I can. So, you will be able to take your knowledge with you if you should move to another state at some time.”

During treatment, if they are having root planing done, I will think and talk out loud. The first thing I check after updating the health history is what treatment is needed and what fillings need to be done. While working in the upper right quadrant, I will say, “You have decay on the mesial of #8. I will be careful while working around this tooth. That will need to be taken care of by the doctor once we are done with your periodontal therapy.” This is reinforcing the treatment diagnosed without pressuring the patient.

Once the patient is done with the treatment in hygiene, I remind them, “We need to set up an appointment for you to do that filling on the mesial of #8.” I even ask them if they can do it in the next week if the doctor has the time. If so, I write on the route slip that the patient would like to have an appointment in the next week, how much time is needed, and what work will be done at that appointment.

Now, when I take the patient up to the front desk the first thing the front desk person should say is, “What time of day would you like me to make that appointment for you to get that filling done on tooth #8?” This is said while I am still standing there. The patient has already committed to me in my room that they would like to get the work done in the next week. We are merely providing what they requested.

The patient is improving their oral health by getting the work done that the doctor has prescribed. I have helped them by educating them and reminding them of the treatment that was diagnosed by the doctor. It is my job to help the patient understand why they WANT to have the dentistry done and why they need it.

“Selling” dentistry is part of providing quality care. It is ethical for you as a healthcare provider to educate, motivate, and communicate the needs of your patients to them, making sure they are well informed of all risks, benefits, and alternatives. All the while you will be reinforcing and “selling” the treatment plan given by the doctor.

Jean conducts 2 day Hygiene Performance Enrichment Programs for The Center for Dental Career Development and McKenzie Management in La Jolla/San Diego, CA. Contact her at or call 1-877-777-6151 for more information on her Advanced Hygiene Training Programs.

Interested in having Jean speak to your dental group? Email us at or call 1-877-777-6151

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2005 Location Sponsor Information Topic Speaker
August 13 Topeka, KS Delta Dental Plan of Kansas 800-733-5823 Breakdown Sally McKenzie
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Sept. 22 El Paso, TX El Paso Dental Society 877-777-6151 Breakdown Sally McKenzie
Oct. 14 Riverside, CA Riverside Implant Study Group 951-279-7847 Top Issues Sally McKenzie
Nov. 18-19 Griffin, GA Endo Magic Root Camp 877-478-9748 Top Issues Sally McKenzie
Dec. 1 Cincinnati, OH Cincinnati Dental Society 513-984-3443 Breakdown Sally McKenzie

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