3 Obstacles Preventing Case Acceptance

This past weekend Dr. Bruce Ouellette took time out of his busy schedule to meet with several dental professionals in my area to discuss comprehensive dental treatment.

Time, Fear, and Finances

In his lecture he pointed out three things preventing our patients from accepting our best treatment plans.


Patients know they need treatment and would have it completed if they only had enough…time.

Work, school, kids, vacation, college football season…the list of things we do continues to grow and having extra time in our schedule seems impossible.

When a patient says “I know I need the work but I just don’t have the time to get it done,” overcome the obstacle by offering to work around their schedules.

When a reasonable and mutually agreeable appointment time is established, block off enough time to provide as much care in one appointment as possible.

This will spend both the patient’s and your time more efficiently.


As we all know many patients experience anxiety and fear when visiting our offices.

Some of these fears originate from hearing about the negative experiences of others.

Others may report a personal history of a traumatic dental visit.

Negative promotion of our profession by mass media certainly contributes to apprehension and fear.

Some people have issues about loss of control while undergoing dental procedures.

In addition, some patients do not trust us.

All of these reasons are to be considered on the front end of treatment planning.

If a patient voices anxiety or fear we should be prepared to offer solutions.

This may be as simple as reassurance or answering the patient’s questions.

This builds trust and confidence.

The patient can also be offered suggestions for relaxation during treatment such as deep breathing exercises or patient controlled cues to stop treatment.

Distraction techniques such as earphones with personal playlists or televisions in treatment rooms may assist others.

In some instances, pre-treatment sedation may be appropriate.

This may be as basic as nitrous oxide administration up to oral and IV sedation for some individuals.

Keep in mind that a majority of the population would much rather be somewhere else than in our offices.

Explore, investigate, and inquire about your potential patient’s anxiety levels then provide appropriate solutions.

This will remove one more barrier to case acceptance.


One final obstacle preventing case acceptance is finances.

“How much will this cost?’  “How much will my insurance pay?”  ” I do not have dental insurance,” are all too common phrases we hear each day.

Face it.  Too have successful case acceptance we have to become comfortable talking finances.

We have to know our fees, provide value, and convey this in a confident and shameless manner.

In addition, we should have various financing options in place.

For instance, my office accepts Care Credit, all major credit cards, debit cards, checks, and cash.

When the price tag is very high, say a 50K dollar implant case, we make arrangements to break the payments up into two or three increments.

This is done through an in office promissory note.

Phased dentistry, which is a separate topic in itself, provides another option.

Regardless of which options you implement, get comfortable discussing finances with your patients and give them options to make your treatment plan accessible.

As you become more aware of the reasons case acceptance is avoided AND can offer the patient solid solutions your acceptance rate should soar.

Do you have suggestions or solutions on how you have improved your case acceptance?

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