We all know the real estate maxim of “location, location, location” as the key to successful sales. In your profession, we would say “education, education, education.”
Have you realized, though, that there are two sides to education with regards to implants and over dentures? There’s you and there’s the patient.
Educate yourself first
More and more provinces are making it legitimate to call yourselves “Denture Specialists.” As your profession continues to gain recognition, an increasing number of dentists are happy to refer their patients who need full and partial dentures to you as a “specialist.” In fact, dentists, oral surgeons and periodontists are actually wooing denturists who will work with them in providing dentures with implants. If they haven’t wooed you yet, go and find them yourself.
As part of maintaining the title of “Denture Specialist” and earning it fully, you should be able to offer all aspects of denture services to your patients. This includes dentures on implants. These are becoming increasing popular and are being demanded by lots of patients.
I mean, who wouldn’t want 60 to 70 percent of their original bite force back instead of the usual 10 percent or so with regular dentures? There is a great deal of professional satisfaction when you provide your patients with optimum solutions and the highest quality care available. That it is far more financially rewarding to you as well doesn’t hurt!
Before you can begin to deliver dentures on implants, you need to gain the technical expertise. These are live people that you are working on and you need to be a total professional in the quality of your work as part of the whole team that is delivering this service.
There are quite a number of ways that you can gain the training you need:
- Call your provincial college or association and ask about upcoming courses they are sponsoring.
- Contact your implant manufacturer reps to find out about courses they are offering, such as Straumann Canada (866-994-2677) or Centerpulse (800-265-0968), for example.
- Ask your dental suppliers about courses that they know of.
- Call the university nearest you that conducts dental programs and see what continuing dental education courses they have as these are often available to denturists as well.
- As well, there are courses put on by various groups and organizations. For example, in Ontario there are three:i) CanDEC. Call Nancy Tomkins, DD (519-574-4746) which offers one day courses for set up techniques, Ivocap processing, Straumann implants, Molloplast B softliners. They have an eight work station hands-on and fully computerized facility.
ii) Denturist Academy for the Study of Implant Retained Prosthetics. Call Mordey Shuhandler (905-707-5909). They also sponsor and conduct lectures and hands-on courses on implants over dentures techniques.
iii) International Denturist Education Centre: Contact Mike Vakalis (416-415-4793).
Keep in mind that while it is necessary to read about, study and be taught the techniques, it is essential that you get the hands-on training as well. Be sure that you receive and keep certificates for each program that you do so you can easily establish your qualifications to do dentures on implants.
Now educate the patient
More and more of our clients are offering dentures with implants to their patients and, as in any service, we have found that there are right ways and wrong ways to meet this new challenge.
If you have working relationships with dentists, oral surgeons or periodontists, referrals from these individuals may well have already been sold dentures on implants. No brainer.
In the case of your own patients, new or old, who are candidates for dentures on implants, offer them this option along with the usual denture type you sell. Give them a full understanding of the benefits and downsides. Sell them what you believe in. Don’t let them walk out of the practice without having made a choice.
The biggest downside is that the patient will have to undergo surgery, though relatively minor. Not all patients will want to proceed with that.
Then there is the cost. Present the value and benefits to overcome this. One prime factor in getting patients to go ahead with implants is that they often “hate” their existing denture.
In other words, there has to be a strong motivation on the part of the patient in order for them to proceed with implants. Your job is to educate the patient and create this motivation.
Begin cautiously and selectively when first starting to offer implants on dentures. You need to build your team and gain experience and work out all the bugs before you get fully into them. Also, keep in mind that patients who decide to go ahead with implants will not be returning for some time for the denture, so there will be a lag on your income from delivering this service.
A separate ad or line of advertising can be set up which is designed specifically to attract patients who have some interest in dentures. This advertising should have a different phone number or something which clearly identifies the prospective patient as someone who is specifically interested in implants. One such ad which was run in the U.S. is: “Loose Dentures? Call 123-333-1234”.
Another thing to watch out for is that prospects cool off over time. In other words, once they’ve decided to see the specialist for their implants, they must get in there and get serviced as quickly as possible. They won’t wait three months to get a consultation with the specialists. Therefore, if necessary, work out special arrangements with your team members for fast service to your patients.
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