Have you ever had a patient balk at the cost of implant treatment? Unfortunately, despite their numerous benefits, implants can be a difficult case to make to some patients. After all, one implant can cost the same as a mortgage payment, weekend getaway, or new appliance. This week, OsteoTalk delves into some psychology-based ways to encourage patients to invest in their oral health.
Appeal to loss aversion:
Psychologically speaking, people are much more likely to take action in order to prevent loss, as opposed to securing a gain or remaining in the same place. Consider presenting radiographs demonstrating how alveolar bone loss results from an empty extraction site, and how it is preserved in the case of an implant.
Humans are intensely visual creatures. Asking someone to make a decision based on what's going on inside their mouth can be difficult in the absence of discomfort, since it's an area most people don’t examine particularly often. Before presenting treatment, take patients on a tour of their mouth with an intraoral camera, pointing out what healthy structures should look like, and where a tooth is compromised and needs to be treated. Explain, using the camera, that a properly cared for implant will cause the unhealthy or edentulous area to resemble the healthy one.
Appeal to timeliness:
One of the advantages to minimally-invasive implant treatment is that there are often fewer appointments. In cases like these, explain that traditionally, implant placement has required invasive surgeries, long recovery times, and several appointments. With minimally-invasive implant treatment, there are fewer appointments and recovery time is much shorter, a fact that may appeal to people who are fearful or have trouble remaining still for a long time.
Compare to other options:
Don't present implants without context. Many patients are not well-informed about the variety of methods to restore or replace a compromised tooth, and may have trouble understanding the unique benefits implants offer. Bridges, a common solution to missing teeth, are not as strong as an implant, and without the intraosseous stimulation that root form implants offer, subject the alveolar bone to resorption. Root canals, another solution, sometimes require re-treatment and make the tooth subject to fracture if the decay is severe enough.
Don't dance around finances:
While it may seem easier to avoid the subject of cost until the patient is back at the front desk, being straightforward about the rough fee breakdown for the different treatment options, along with the cost of repairing a non-ideal treatment, can build trust and encourage a decision. What commonly happens when the front desk presents the cost of treatment is the patient says "I need to think about it," and never returns as their problem only grows worse. Discussing payment plans and services like CareCredit along with the treatment can motivate the patient to take action.