Written by: Dr. Jesse Ritter
Warning! Today's topic I'm going to cover is gonna be a little bit of an edgy one, especially for a dentist, or a cosmetic dentist to dive into, because I feel it's really important. I feel like it's an elephant in the room that doesn't get talked about enough, and I think it's a hot button and it upsets a lot of people when they think about the idea of cosmetic or large amounts of dentistry. And that is this concept that getting cosmetic dentistry or getting the smile you want is extremely expensive. And honestly, there's a lot of people out there that just think it's just completely out of reach for the general population or the average person that makes a "average salary." I'm here to have an open conversation about what I believe about value, affordability, and ROI when it comes to cosmetic dentistry specifically.
So many people really feel like dentistry is not accessible to them. Cosmetic dentistry, or in a case where a lot of cavities need to be fixed, may feel like it's completely out of reach. I get that. I totally understand having that feeling. I can understand where it comes from. Dental insurance is not insurance.There's nothing in dentistry to really lean on or get access to for a reasonable fee per month that's really going to help you if you need a ton of work done. If you're trying to catch up with some problems that maybe haven't been taken care of for a while, it's very difficult to do when you are thinking about or leaning on dental insurance.
Medical insurance, just like home insurance, car insurance or whatever it is, is still insurance. It will help limit your out of pocket costs, if you are going to go through something major. If you require a $50,000 surgery and you have $1,000 deductible, your maximum out of pocket is going to be that deductible or that maximum out of pocket for your plan. Your medical insurance will kick in and it will cover the rest. Your out of pocket expenses are limited.
In dentistry with dental insurance, it is the exact opposite. Dental insurance is written so that the risk or the out of pocket costs for the dental insurance company is limited. And your out of pocket costs are unlimited. It's unfortunate that it's even called dental insurance and it's misleading to people out there who are looking for a way to afford the care that they want or need. Dental insurance is just not the answer.
It can, in some cases be a good investment from the standpoint of, if you can put in for 30 or $40 a month, which amounts to 360 to $480 a year - if you can put in that small investment and you're gonna go to the dentist regularly, and you're gonna use say a $1,500 or at best, maybe a $2,000 maximum for the year, that's a four to five X return on your money, right? It's a way to make a good investment on a small scale, but it is in no way going to then take care of if you need 20, 30, $40,000 of dentistry, it's gonna just leave you high and dry in that way.
I also want to discuss the topic of whats considered “expensive.” Everybody has their own perception of what expensive is. Something that is a hundred dollars, you could look at it and say, that's expensive. And I could look at that and say, that's really expensive, a hundred dollars for a cup of coffee, is a lot of money. That's ridiculous. On the flip side, you could look at something and say, $50,000 is actually relatively inexpensive, $50,000 for that new house. That's a really good deal. That's really inexpensive. I'm getting a place to live for $50,000. That's good value there, right?
When it comes to something being expensive, the amount of money, the amount of money actually doesn't matter, it's a matter of this concept of value. What do you get in return for that sum of money?
Lets consider cosmetic dentistry or rehabilitative type dentistry. This type of dentistry is where you are taking someone's situation, their health, and you are transforming something negative into a positive. Their teeth/smile could be impairing them in their life, holding them back from success in their career, holding them back from success in their relationships. It could be something where they are very unhealthy because of teeth that need to be removed or taken care of.
When you factor all of those changes in a $30,000 investment (a random number) you have to look at it from the standpoint of value. It is not just that you are getting some porcelain on your teeth. $30,000 is an opportunity for you to potentially change your life, change your health, change your trajectory, change your relationships, change your self confidence. If we just talk straight about money, we can go into the ROI side of things.
First off, a smile doesn't give you those things (success, confidence, upward trajectory). Let's not pretend that having healthy teeth or a smile that you're proud of inherently in itself changes you. But what it can be is a catalyst for change...an environmental change, that can be a spark for major change in your life. When you think of personally making that investment...the ripple effect of how that investment has changed you can have a real monetary ROI in your life. When you think about your career, the chances you're willing to take or the amount of courage that you're able to have when it comes to a speaking engagement or creating an online video or at that meeting you...you're getting a major ROI on the back side of that kind of transformation that often gets overlooked.
Now lets cover perception with what's expensive and what's not. I come from a background where I didn't grow up super wealthy and there's nothing wrong with growing up super wealthy. I think that's wonderful. My mom was a second grade school teacher. My dad was a manager at a feed mill early on in our childhood. We were taken care of. We were never starving, but were not abundantly wealthy. So I understand, and I empathize with the idea that money is finite for a lot of people's jobs, careers, and where they are currently in their life. We all have monthly budgets.
So when we talk about that same number $30,000 that comes up, I've had to have this discussion with patients. What happens a lot of times is that our patients think “I dont have.” And in theory, you don't right? In reality, you do not have $30,000 in your possession at this moment. It's not in your checking account. It's not in your savings account, it's not there.
But what we have to begin to think about is, is there a way in your life where that money can be created? How can $30,000 actually be in my checking account or be in my savings account, because I really want that thing, that smile, that health, that feeling, that benefit. I really want that value. I want to receive that.
What we have to think about is that there's a lot of different ways that money can be created in people's lives. And it can come in the form of a loan, it can come in the form of home equity loans. And I know these are things that are uncomfortable. It's uncomfortable for me as a dentist to talk about these things. But honestly, these are options that people overlook. Sometimes people have retirement plans that can instead of be just continuing to save for the end of your life, can actually be extracted out of, and used to invest in your life now and in the future.
Most people aren’t comfortable paying for treatment with a lump sum of money. We find a way to create a payment plan so that you can have the creative freedom or the ability to budget it into your lifestyle. I never ever want someone to be choosing between feeding their family or eating and getting a smile transformation, or getting the dentistry that they need. I never want that to be the choice that you're making. I do want to help people understand that it can be affordable if we allow ourselves to get creative about that affordability and creative ways for how we can get what we want. We can spread the treatment out over time or finance it.
There's so many ways that we can get creative. So if you have any questions about this, please reach out. I'd love to hear your thoughts, your questions, your concerns.
I hope that this post was helpful. I truly believe this at my core, that every post that I create is in service to people that just want information that are out there wanting something and thinking that they can't have it. I really want to be in service to you and please, send me your comments, your messages, your questions. I would love to hear from you. So thanks for tuning into this post and I'll see you on the next one.