How to do more Private Dentistry

Every dentist knows how soul-destroying NHS dentistry is. So here is a strategy to help you move to more private care

If you have been practising dentistry in the UK for more than a few years, you may be feeling like many others in your situation. 

NHS dental care is very limiting, and the targets are always high, meaning you can only provide a fraction of the care that you would like, with the constraints of the NHS system. 

So is moving to a private system the answer?

Well, as soon as you ask your patients to pay privately, often their thought process is “why should I pay more to get something that I can get on the NHS, for a fraction of the price?” 

Now, we know that the end result is not the same, but trying to explain the whole money side of things is pointless and time-consuming.

And time is very limited in the NHS System. 

I personally stopped all NHS work over 10 years ago, and now only provide complex dental care for patients who are happy to pay private fees. 

And we are probably a little more expensive than most places. 

Let me explain how I got to this stage. 

1. Learn and Educate Yourself

When you graduated from University – you only know the basics.

Universities are great for learning basic single tooth dentistry, which the NHS system relies on. 

But we are not treating single teeth, we are treating patients, who sometimes have complex problems. 

If you have a patient with a complex wear issue, and you just apply composite, it’s probably not going to work long-term. 

So you need to understand things like rebuilding smiles in CR, and how to use materials like porcelain to achieve a long-lasting result, and if you are doing this, it’s a good idea to develop your eye, so that the end result looks beautiful as well. 

These days there are plenty of courses that can show you how to do this, and you should go on many. 

This gives you different perspectives on the same subject. 

2. Putting it in Practice 

There are lots of videos on YouTube, showing you how to carry out a procedure, but until you have done it yourself, you have not learned. 

As they say, you cant learn to ride a bike from a video. 

This is where some hand holding can really come in useful.

I mentor some younger dentists, and many of them have dramatically increased their skills, case acceptance and ultimately their income because of this. 

Doing a complex smile re-build can be daunting if you are doing this for the first time – so it’s a lot easier to do this with someone who has experience.

Often I will have video calls before the procedure and we talk through everything in detail, common pitfalls and little tips and tricks, then a call after the appointment to see how it all went, and where things can improve. 

This means that the dentists who I am helping, are not alone, this is incredibly reassuring for them and it helps to get a great treatment outcome. 

For the more complex stuff (usually surgical), I will travel to the dentists I am mentoring and show them exactly how it is done. 

Then after a while, they can do it confidently on their own. 

You would be amazed at how effective this is for your learning and progression – in a single year many have gone from £2-£3000 cases to double arch all on 4’s and charging £25,000-£30,000 (an average fee for this treatment).

Once you are confident in a procedure, you will talk about it with confidence and more patients will go ahead with it. 

3. Think about your practice and how it looks

If you want to be carrying out more private dental care, your surgery needs to look as good as possible. 

A lot of the buying decision is made by the way a product or service is delivered, rather than the product or service itself.

Think about the last time you bought something, even just groceries. The way a superstore like Tesco or Sainsbury’s presents itself is very different to your local corner shop. 

Under the NHS, you can get away with a cluttered surgery and messy waiting area and team members talking loudly on the phone. 

In a private setting, you need to appreciate that the whole patient experience is important, and initially, it is more important than how good a dentist you are. 

In one practice where I work, initially, the look of the practice was average, and so was our case acceptance. 

They then carried out a refurbishment, and our case acceptance went through the roof! 

Although it shouldn’t, the look of your practice matters. 

4. Work on your treatment plan presentation 

The way that you explain your treatment plans is critical. Actually, before you even suggest anything, you should take a LOT of time to listen to your patient. 

Now, if they are just in for a check-up, then this may not take that much time. 

But if they have a complex issue and need to talk – give them time. I spend about 40 minutes listening to my patient before I even look in their mouth. 

And I actually formulate a treatment plan (initially) based mainly on the photos that we take at the consultation. 

Then I will look in the patient’s mouth and formalise this plan. 

Now, most of our treatment plans are £15,000-25,000, and this process is critical in delivering exactly what the patient is looking for. If you want to hear a real-life consultation that resulted in a large case acceptance, you can do this – there is a link at the bottom of this blog article. 

This brings me to point 5: 

5. Give the patient what they want

Most dentists can look at a photo and treatment plan something pretty accurate from there. 

The best sales model I have ever found is:

Step 1. Find out what the patient wants (and why they want this)

Step 2. Find a way to give this to them, within their budget/ time frame and treatment amount. 

So let’s say your patient has tooth wear, you take photos and explain in plain language what the issue is, you then ask them if this worries them. 

If it does, then you can explore options. Maybe ask if they want a comprehensive solution, which is more involved and more expensive, or a patch-up for now, which will probably need redoing in the future… or nothing at all. 

This kind of question will gently ask your patient how much they see the tooth wear as a problem, and if you were going to offer them solutions, what level of solution are they looking for (quick and cheap or comprehensive and expensive)

The important thing here is that the patient is in control, and they choose what they want. 

It is very different to you telling the patient what they need to solve a tooth wear issue. 

The more you can structure your consultations and include questions like this, the more you will be able to spend time with those patients who are likely to want larger treatment plans. 

As part of the mentoring package, we include a selection of online courses, one of these is the Ultimate Case Acceptance course. 

It details the EXACT, step-by-step process that I go through in order to get the larger case acceptances that regularly get. 

If you would like more information on this you can find out more by following this link. 

Carrying out Private full mouth care is extremely rewarding, especially for our patients, and even today I get goosebumps when we reach the end of a treatment plan.


How To Get A £25k Case Acceptance

If you would like to find out more about how I personally run my consultations then click the link below to check-out a full 1h15min recording of a consultation, which resulted in a £25k treatment plan case acceptance.

There is a deep dive into the psychology of the consultation, and structure that will let you get the same results.


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