Marketing Dental Implants: New Teeth or New Car

Dental practices often use car analogies when talking to patients about fees for dental implants. A typical response to a patient who recoils at the fee for dental implant treatment goes something like this: Think about what it costs to buy a new car. Dental implant treatment lasts longer so it’s a better value. This message is good but it needs to be much more specific and cogent to be an effective way tool for marketing dental implants.

I believe that car analogies should only be used in certain situations. If the patient has been fully educated about the benefits of dental treatment, including quality of life benefits, and still has a hard time accepting the fee, then a skilled treatment coordinator can talk about the relative value of optimal oral health versus a new car.

The problem is that most patients are unprepared for a large dental fee. The average person may assume that a visit to the dentist for an exam, cleaning and x-rays will be in three figures. Patients also often know ahead of time that treatment for something more extensive such as periodontal disease or the fabrication and placement of one or more crowns will be in four figures. Few patients, however, are ready at the outset to come to terms with a five-figure dental fee.

Once the patient has heard the fee and is wrestling with the cost/benefit analysis, then you can talk about cars. Here is a great message for patients:

The average person in the U.S. buys a new car every six years. The average price of a new car is about $33,500. If we add an inflation factor and subtract trade-in value, the average person will pay over $100,000 for four automobiles over an 18-year period. Dental implant treatment typically lasts for decades. In fact, with proper professional maintenance and home care, many people have dental implant treatment done once and it lasts a lifetime. The bottom line is that dental implant treatment improves the quality of your life and over many years it is an exceptional value for the dollar.

Patients who have dental implant treatment often say that it was money well spent and they wish they had had the treatment sooner. Prior to dental implant treatment, however, it is often necessary to talk about value, and the car analogy has its place in marketing dental implants when explained properly.

David Schwab Ph.D.