Help More Patients Smile Sooner

November 20, 2020 by AACD Executive Office

Cosmetic treatments boost patient confidence and widen smiles, so why do patients often delay getting them scheduled? Understanding the psychology behind patients’ hesitance to move forward can help you convey the value of your treatment. Consider, for example, how you can counter six of the most common obstacles to motivate patients and increase acceptance rates: 

1. Distrust  

Whether it’s finding a procedure to be more painful than expected, or suspicions that costly cosmetic treatments aren’t really worth the expense, the underlying cause of mistrust is that a patient doesn’t know you well enough to believe you have their best interests at heart. 

How to prevent: Be authentic. Demonstrate concern for your patients’ well-being and pay attention to the information they share with you about themselves. You might make note of facts about them in your PMS to bring up at subsequent visits. Then follow up appointments with friendly emails and other communication touchpoints.  


Negative experiences with a dentist, often during childhood, can scar patients for life. Sometimes these occur in the chair where patients feel completely helpless. Other times, experiences are tainted when pain-numbing medications wear off during post-procedure recovery. 

How to prevent: Create a peaceful operatory environment with soft lights and music. Send pre-appointment surveys such as Comfort forms to find out what triggers each patient and adjust accordingly. Some patients may want headphones during their procedures, or might prefer not to be spoken to at all while in the chair.  

3. Embarrassment  

Whether struggling with bad breath or feeling shame for practicing poor oral hygiene, patients are easily embarrassed at the thought of letting a near-stranger poke at their gums and teeth. 

How to prevent: Show empathy. Remind patients that you’ve seen bad teeth before (it’s your profession) and explain their treatment gently. 

4. Finances  

People fear the formidable costs of treatment, even when resolving an issue quickly can prevent more expensive procedures in the future. Often, unknowns surrounding finances are more debilitating than the actual total bill. 

How to prevent: Make your prices transparent and easily accessible for patients, and emphasize the value and benefit of procedures. Also, consider offering membership or payment plan options to encourage patients who might be unable to front an entire bill. 

5. Time 

Making time for the dentist often falls to the bottom of folks’ priorities and top of their procrastination lists. However, citing a lack of time can be a cover for deeper fears, such as worries about lengthy procedures that require anesthesia. 

How to prevent: Make expected visit times clear on your website and in pre-appointment communications. Ensure that appointments start and end on time, and consider offering more flexible hours such as evenings and weekends for patients who have tight schedules. 

6. Lack of Education  

A lot of misinformation surrounds dental treatments, such as thinking they can apply at-home remedies that will achieve the same results as professional care! 

How to prevent: Educate patients with materials that are easy to read and engage with. Be their go-to for reliable information, and emphasize the benefits they’ll receive from the treatment rather than fear factors or clinical information. 

Want to learn more about how to address misperceptions and encourage patients to take action in getting the dental treatments they deserve? Download the free eBook, Unscheduled Treatment: Psychology of a Patient’s Buying Decisions

Featured Stories

As a dentist, you know that your website is frequently used as a primary resource of information for your current and po... Read More
Whether you are flying solo or bringing the whole office team and family to AACD Orlando 2022, you'll find that Orla... Read More
AACD Orlando 2022 educator, Susan McMahon, DMD, AAACD, recently published Selfie Culture, Young Adults, and Cosmetic Den... Read More
by Michael DiFrisco, CAE   Find your dental DNA, and more, with the Cosmetic Dental Marketing Institute, the ultimate on... Read More

Facebook Feed


Twitter Feed

Connect with Us
American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry
402 W. Wilson Street
Madison, WI 53703
United States of America


Contact Us
© 2021 American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry

This website uses cookies. Cookies are little files placed on your device that help us keep members signed in, help members access their member benefits, help us understand how visitors use our website, and help us provide relevant marketing messages. Read more about our cookies policy here. By using our site, you consent to our use of cookies