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To Be or Not to Be . . . Accredited

September 7, 2017 by AACD Executive Office

By Salvatore Lotardo, DDS, AAACD – Former Chairman of the American Board of Cosmetic Dentistry

As members of the AACD, we all share an interest in cosmetic dentistry and are united in our quest for knowledge and education for the betterment of our patients. While there should be commonalities in what the whole membership values, the individual needs and desires of members may vary some. To understand the challenges and barriers that exist for some members, the AACD recently conducted a survey on several topics. The goal was to glean information that would help them better serve their membership.

On the topic of Accreditation and its perceived value, surveyed members who considered it slightly important to not important were asked to expound on this opinion. The most common responses were summarized with the following representative objections:

  • It’s a time issue
  • I don’t have the patients or the experience; maybe in the future
  • I don’t feel like it will drive patients to my office
  • It’s not really practical; not something you do every day
  • Not a priority

As someone who has gone through the Accreditation process, here’s the response I would offer to these members:

“It’s a time issue”

Whether this objection refers to time in your personal or professional life, the response is the same: if you value something you will make time for it. While it is true that the Accreditation process requires some dedication of your time, it is time well spent as this journey will change your life.

“I don’t have the patients or the experience; maybe in the future”

The Smiths posed a question with their hit song “How Soon is Now?”  The song’s sentiment is the lamenting of waiting too long and missing out on something that could have enhanced your life. The sooner you begin the journey, the sooner you can begin benefitting from it! Now, onto the rest of this objection.

Gaining experience on patients you don’t have may seem like a classic catch-22 (defined as “a dilemma or difficult circumstance from which there is no escape because of mutually conflicting or dependent conditions”); it doesn’t have to be. The best time to begin your Accreditation journey is when you have fewer patients. If your schedule is light, you can spend that extra time developing your skills. The Accreditation workshops and other courses offered through the AACD will give you the knowledge and confidence to increase case acceptance and will provide tremendous value to the patients you already serve. As you develop your skills, you’ll start winning over your patients, and those patients will lead to more patients.

The best way to attract “cosmetic” patients is through referrals from satisfied patients. There is no better marketing than having other patients praise your skills to their friends and family, and the cost is nothing. Word of mouth marketing gives you a huge return on your investment.  In turn, they will refer more like-minded patients seeking quality care. This form of marketing complements the response to the third and next objection.

“I don’t feel like it {Accreditation} will drive patients to my office.”

The days of “hanging out your shingle” are over. Competition for patients has led to a marketing frenzy, especially when every dentist claims to be a cosmetic dentist. How will you differentiate yourself?

Patients are becoming sophisticated consumers of dentistry who use the internet to guide their decisions, especially when vetting health care providers. With a large and growing presence on the internet, the AACD’s consumer website currently ranks third in organic results for the search terms “implants vs bridges” and ranks first in organic results for the search terms “porcelain crowns.” The site is designed to convert visitor sessions to clicks on the “Find-a-Dentist” button, which redirects the consumer to the AACD’s Find-a-Dentist directory. There, patients can search for AACD member dentists in their location, with Accredited Members in their location appearing at the top of the list.

“I want something that would be practical at the office, it’s not something you do every day.”

The five case types required for Accreditation, while selected to evaluate the candidate’s ability to provide a variety of treatments at the highest level of excellence, are based in practical dentistry.


Case Type 1: Six or More Indirect Restorations

This required case type is essentially a maxillary anterior porcelain veneer case. True, not something you may do every day in practice, but it’s one of the most requested cosmetic procedures. You could certainly have this conversation with a patient every day. The demand is there. When you have the confidence from passing this case type, patients will feel it and trust in you to deliver the results they want.

Case Type 2: One or Two Indirect Restorations 

How many patients do you see in a week with a single crown that doesn’t match the adjacent natural teeth? Enough said.

Case Type 3: Replacing a Tooth in the Smile Zone with an Implant or Bridge

Another case type you may not do every day, but the ability to predictably treat these cases will be a boon to your practice. The bar has been set high for these case types, it is no longer enough to achieve osseointegration. Patients expect implants to be indistinguishable from a natural tooth.

Case Type 4: Class IV Direct Resin Restoration

You can’t call yourself a cosmetic dentist if you can only deliver quality indirect restorations. This is by far the most practical case type you could be performing almost daily. If you master only this case type because of the Accreditation process you are way ahead of most cosmetic dentists. When you perform this case type, patients can see the results of your abilities. Between fractures, redoing poor bonding, diastema closures, etc., you will have your hands full once word gets out that you provide the most conservative and beautiful cosmetics with direct resin. Allow your skills to shine.

Case Type 5: Six or More Direct Resin Veneers

This case type is the culmination of all your skills: smile design, handling composite, periodontal health and occlusal issues. Once mastered, the doors to a true comprehensive cosmetic practice are opened. While you may not replace all of your porcelain veneer cases with composite veneers, knowing that you could is priceless.

“Not a priority”

Consider your answers to these questions:

  • Do you want to perform cosmetic dentistry at the highest level?                                                    
  • Do you want to truly market yourself as cosmetic dentist?                                                  
  • Do you want to gain confidence to treatment plan and increase case acceptance of cosmetic procedures?
  • Do you want to reach your professional potential?                                                                          
  • Do you want to have a successful and rewarding career while improving your patient’s quality of life?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, Accreditation should be a priority for you.

If your still questioning the value of AACD Accreditation, I’d be happy to discuss it with you further. Click here to send me an email.

Or click here for more information on AACD Accreditation and to get started on your journey.

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