Here’s a distinction every professional will find helpful. It’s the distinction between educating vs. understanding patients. The other day I was in The Apple Store looking for the latest version of the iPad. My interest was in its voice recognition technology.

My salesperson knew his stuff, so much so I felt overwhelmed by all he knew about voice recognition technology.


He must have thought I needed to know everything. I didn’t. I wanted him to understand why voice recognition was important and sell me what would work, not educate me on all he knew about voice recognition. After a few minutes of his lecture, I had to stop him. He was answering questions I didn’t ask.

Yes…I bought a new iPad, despite everything he knew.

So, do patients accept your care despite everything you know?

I’ve witnessed many dentists overeducating, overwhelming, and losing patients. Patient education can feel like lecturing, and in some cases, patients can perceive it as judgmental. Far worse, for patients who are not ready for care because of personal issues, a continued barrage of patient education feels like sales pressure. Sales pressure is a leading factor in patients abandoning practices.


The irony here is many dentists, and team members don’t realize they’re exerting sales pressure.


They believe education is good for patients. From my experience, patient education is overrated as a driver of case acceptance. Oh yes…I get it… we have to educate patients on their dental conditions, consequences, and treatment options. But, that’s not what I’m talking about. When I say overrated, we see it as the only way we can motivate patients to accept care. It isn’t.

An additional way to motivate is to give them the experience of being understood. Your best bet is to offer patients proportional experiences of being educated and understood. To accomplish this, dentists and teams need to discover why patients are upset about their teeth, what lifestyle benefits they’re seeking, how dental care must fit into their budgets, and when is the best time to begin dental care. Discover this first; then, patient education will have greater relevance and influence.

Now for patients with minimal care needs, the sole emphasis on patient education can work well. However, as the complexity of patient care increases, patient education diminishes in influence. Giving patients experiences of being understood are the driver of case acceptance for complex care patients. My advice… blend in large doses of understanding patients along with patient education.


If improving your new patient experience and treatment acceptance is important to you, consider visiting Treatment Acceptance Mastery.


Our next video lessons will continue to illustrate other distinctions in dentistry and how they’ll advance your Standard of Caring.