Digital Smile Makeovers to Turbocharge Treatment Acceptance

Alex Nottingham and Joanne Villani discuss the importance of adding emotion to digital smile makeovers to increase case acceptance in dental practices. Joanne is a co-founder and product specialist at PreVue Dental Software and has been involved in the dental field for over 35 years. She believes that everyone should have a smile that they feel confident about and her passion is helping dental practices increase treatment acceptance of cosmetic and full mouth reconstructive dental treatment.

Key Highlights on Dental Smile Makeovers

[0:00:02] Conversation with Joanne Villani on Increasing Treatment Acceptance with Digital Smile Makeovers
[0:07:38] Driving Case Acceptance Through Dental Treatment Simulations
[0:09:18] Utilizing Visualization to Increase Case Acceptance in Dentistry
[0:11:01] Navigating Dental Simulation Programs for Treatment Acceptance
[0:12:47] Benefits of Fast and Easy Simulation Software for Dental Practices
[0:16:44] Conversation on Building a Treatment Plan and Financing for Patients
[0:18:19] Understanding Patient Objections to Treatment Plans

Notable Quotes on Dental Smile Makeovers

  • If we don’t have a quick mockup, we’re losing opportunities. So, it really depends on the goal of the practice. If your goal is to build a pipeline of patients that will eventually start to come back and do cosmetics. Because no matter what system you’re using, patients don’t typically always see a simulation and run to the front desk to schedule.
  • I talk to offices, and they go, we just don’t have a lot of cosmetic patients. And it’s like, no, you do. You have a lot of patients that are walking in with the need that would benefit from, but they’re just not asking you.
  • One of the things I want to say about what you just said is that we as dental professionals have to realize that our patients are going out and they are spending their discretionary income on a lot of other different cosmetic, surgical and non surgical procedures. Billions of dollars.

Additional Resources

About Joanne Villani

Joanne is a Co-Founder and Product Specialist at PreVu Software. She has been involved in the dental field for over 35 years, as a clinical dental hygienist, and then as sales and marketing professional focused on products for periodontal health, cosmetic and implant dentistry. Joanne believes that people can tell a lot about you from your smile. And that everyone should have a smile that they feel confident about. Her passion is helping dental practices increase case acceptance of cosmetic and full-mouth reconstructive dental treatment.

About Alex Nottingham JD MBA

Alex is the CEO and Founder of All-Star Dental Academy®. He is a former Tony Robbins top coach and consultant, having worked with companies upwards of $100 million. His passion is to help others create personal wealth and make a positive impact on the people around them. Alex received his Juris Doctor (JD) and Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Florida International University.

Episode Transcript – Dental Smile Makeovers

Transcript performed by A.I. Please excuse the typos.

[0:01:11]  ALEX NOTTINGHAM: Great to have you. Tell me about you and PreVue. How did this all come about? You’re one of the co creators of this co founders.

[0:01:21]  JOANNE VILLANI: Yes. As you mentioned, I was a clinical hygienist, and one of my things that I just love to do was to talk to patients about improving their smile. And I always say I’ve worked in every different scenario with a really affluent area, a very high end cosmetic practice, and then areas that were not as affluent and there really wasn’t a focus. But no matter what the socioeconomic condition of the area or the patients that were coming in, I always wanted to speak to people about improving their smile, because I just think it’s really important, as you said, says a lot about you. And one of the reasons is because I think when I was growing up, I was just fortunate enough for my family to be able to afford braces.

I really, growing up, had very white teeth, and I always got complimented on my smile. So I always knew that it was important and that people noticed it. And so when I would be seeing patients, it’s one of the things that I would love to just talk about and recommend. And that just kind of was always in the back of my mind as I furthered in my dental career. And that at a certain point in my career, I thought I looked around and said, what do I want to do? I was in implant dentistry at the time, and I was having a transition, and I said, what do I want to do?

And I actually saw something similar to what we have. It’s a much older I don’t even know if it’s available anymore. But I said, oh, my God. Every dental office needs a tool like this. Because patients don’t understand some of the issues affecting their smile, we’re not showing them what’s possible, and it would really help in the dental practice to be able to communicate to patients the benefit of cosmetic dentistry, which is an overall transformation to your appearance.

So that sort of started my journey to start PreVue, and I just love it. It’s really fun. It’s amazing to just feel like you’re just having a little part of helping somebody make a decision that can change their life.

[0:03:15]  ALEX NOTTINGHAM: What was very interesting is on the show Extreme Makeover, they found that the dental work was the biggest effect that the participants appreciated more than the cosmetic surgery. So that was the number one, because everybody sees your smile. So it’s certainly very powerful. What do you think for dental practices? What’s holding them back for doing more cosmetic and reconstructive or restorative work?

Well, one of the things I want to say about what you just said is that we as dental professionals have to realize that our patients are going out and they are spending their discretionary income on a lot of other different cosmetic, surgical and non surgical procedures. Billions of dollars. If you follow on Instagram, just so many mommy makeovers 360, lipo, bbls, botox, and those are the things that they think have the most impact on transforming themselves and making them feel confident. But it is really their smile.

[0:04:22]  JOANNE VILLANI: And so that is the first thing we have to do in the dental practice, is to realize that patients are spending money on these types of things to feel better about themselves and to feel more attractive. But I think that one of the reasons that dental offices don’t do it as many cosmetic cases as they would like. And I think most offices would admit that if they would like to do cosmetic cases, they’re probably not doing as many as they want.

And it’s usually because they’re waiting for the patient to ask for it. So they’re missing out on a lot of opportunities to actually talk to patients that would benefit from cosmetic treatment because they’re not asking for it. I even talk to offices and they go, we just don’t have a lot of cosmetic patients. And it’s like, no, you do. You have a lot of patients that are walking in with the need that would benefit from, but they’re just not asking you.

And I think there’s some good reasons for that. I think a lot of times it either could be the dentist or certain team members. They don’t feel comfortable bringing up something where they think they might offend the patient. If the patient isn’t asking, they think if they were interested, they would ask. And they don’t want to feel like they’re selling it’s not a sales position, so they don’t want to feel like they’re selling dentistry.

But the fact is, sometimes patients just don’t understand how their teeth look and they don’t understand what’s possible for them to actually help their smile be improved. So I think that we have to do a better job of having those conversations and making sure that people do know what’s possible for them, whether it’s today or something that they can work more towards having. And I think the other thing is, I think we’re all guilty of going to work and just getting really involved in the tasks that we need to do to get through the day.

And we sometimes forget that that patient, those teeth are in a face that is going to leave the office. And if their smile is not as maybe making them feel as confident as they could feel, then they’re interacting differently in the world. So those people are going to work and they’re having a social life and they might be trying to date. A lot of people are on apps, doing online dating and they are being perceived a different way. So there’s a bigger picture that we’re missing if we’re letting our patients walk out the door with a smile that we as dental professionals know that we can improve.

But we’re not having that conversation for some of the reasons I just mentioned. We need to have a good approach that the team members and the doctor are comfortable with. But it needs to prompt more of those conversations because oftentimes when we work with practices, they are surprised at the patients that ultimately end up saying yes to treatment just because they had a conversation that they might otherwise not have had.

[0:07:10]  ALEX NOTTINGHAM: That makes a lot of sense. What I’m thinking about, as I just spoke with Larry Gazardo, our head instructor, he’ll be at the event with you and we were talking about asking for referrals and what he was saying is patients want you to ask. And I think what you’re saying is patients maybe subconsciously, or they do, would like you to show them what’s possible. They don’t know how to ask for it. And so that goes to the next question about dental treatment simulations, which is what your company does.

How does that help to drive case acceptance?

[0:07:42]  JOANNE VILLANI: So it really does two things. Number one, when you create a dental treatment simulation, you can think of it as a comparison photo. When you put that photo next to a patient’s before picture and some of those issues in their mouth that are affecting them cosmetically look to be fixed. It helps educate the patient because they look back and forth to the picture you might have taken to them at the beginning of the appointment, and they look at the picture that you’ve generated for them where some of those issues are.

Their teeth are not worn down. Their teeth are no longer stained. Their incisal edges are no longer chipped. That tooth that might be missing that they think you can’t see when they smile because it’s in the back of the mouth, they see that they actually can see it in their smile and what it would look like if it wasn’t. And those issues being resolved create that physical transformation and that physical transformation is really the link to the emotional connection that’s needed for the patients to really want it. When they see that those issues have been fixed and they see this improved version of themselves, it makes it real for them that they can have this great smile. Sometimes people look at that and go, oh, my God, I can’t believe I can look like that.

How can I look like that? But when they see themselves looking like that, they get emotional. People buy on emotion, so they will pay and find the time to do what they want. So we need to have that emotional connection because a lot of times dentistry is expensive. Again, people will buy what they want, so we have to get them connected to that. So it really helps to drive because it creates a patient who might be unaware they have an issue to being aware.

Otherwise, people and patients don’t pay to fix problems they don’t think they have. But now that they’re aware, they see how great they look and we get that emotion which drives them to want to actually do it. They start envisioning the life that they are going to lead if they look like that improved version. I always say we don’t sell teeth to patients, right. We’re actually helping them with their confidence, their self esteem. And when they see them with a brand new smile, they go, oh, that person, that version of me is going to be more social. I’m going to go after that job.

And if I can equate it to plastic surgery, it has to be like a lot of people that go and they say, oh, I’m going to go get liposuction so I can get in that bikini for my trip that’s coming up. So they start envisioning what they’re going to do. So that’s what our simulations help them do, make it real for them and help them envision the future of what they might be with that beautiful smile. And that’s what they’re going to move towards.

[0:10:17]  ALEX NOTTINGHAM: Yeah. You remind me of another podcast I just did recently with Eric. He’ll be at the event as well, and we’re doing a series on case acceptance. But this is right in this area of case acceptance. This is a case acceptance tool because you’re absolutely right. You got to look at the emotion. The quote is, we buy from emotion and then we justify with reason.

[0:10:38]  JOANNE VILLANI: Exactly.

[0:10:39]  ALEX NOTTINGHAM: And the emotion is the why. That’s what we spoke about last time. What is their why? What is their purpose behind it? And like you said, painting a picture, it’s the bikini. It’s the outcome that we’re looking for in the teeth or whatever you’re looking to do. And you were mentioning lipo. Whatever the situation is a wedding, we’re looking to create that. Or if it’s a job interview or a job you’re looking to get that provides that confidence.

So that makes a lot of sense you mentioned a little bit about what you do. Or we know it’s a dental simulation, or for case acceptance. How do you navigate, obviously for programs like this, how does a dentist decide what’s a good program? Okay, obviously you love yours, so what’s a good things to look for, being somewhat objective?

[0:11:26]  JOANNE VILLANI: Okay, so there’s two ways that you really can get a simulation. You can send out to a service. So we have a service and you can send us a picture and we’ll get it back to you very quickly. But there’s other people that have services, labs have services and some imaging systems. When you are actually sending your photo out to be returned back, you’re typically paying on a case by case basis. So then as being in the practice, you’re going to justify if that patient and that case is worth that investment, which you are not, or that cost, because you’re not going to pass that along to the patient.

So typically doctors who use a service, they’re using simulations, a limited amount of simulations, maybe not often at all. And they’re kind of qualifying the patient. The patient was interested, the case is big enough and I think the patient has enough money to pay for this. They’re just on the fence a little. So I’ll get a simulation, get that emotion, and hopefully get that case. We’ve developed a software, and the software that we developed is really to be fast and easy to use, to create a natural looking simulation so that you can do this on as many patients as you want because there’s no additional cost to do it. So what happens is you want to have something that’s fast and easy so you don’t miss opportunities.

You need something that is going to be easy for the hygienist to do, to maybe reengage a patient who comes in through hygiene that maybe hasn’t said yes to treatment before, or maybe now you’re having more cosmetic conversations. So you want to basically talk to a patient who’s come in that you’ve never spoken to before, but you have to fit it into that appointment time. So you need something that’s really fast and easy.

So when I look at simulation software, we even have things on the market like Photoshop. You don’t really even need something that’s demo specific. But usually any of the offices that we know that use something like Photoshop, it’s only one person who knows how to do it. It takes them an hour or more to do it. So the patient is not in the chair. You need something to present to the patient while they’re there, not after the fact, which you can do if you need to.

But when they’re there and you see the emotion that kind of comes up when they’re seeing this picture, you can actually leverage that to talk to them, to help them move closer, to actually saying yes. So usually you don’t want something that’s going to take you too long and you have to send it after the fact. Sometimes offices are doing, I would say more treatment planned simulations. Ours are not intended to be treatment planned. We want people doing this in under 90 seconds. So of course you don’t have records and you’re not measuring. So we’re not looking at the shape of the teeth, we’re not looking at the exact length of the teeth.

The perfect smile arc, even the midline if you needed it to, could be off a little bit. Of course you can change that. But if we don’t have a quick mock up, we’re losing opportunities. So it really depends on the goal of the practice. If your goal is to build a pipeline of patients that will eventually start to come back and do cosmetics. Because no matter what system you’re using, patients don’t typically always see a simulation and run to the front desk to schedule.

Sometimes they do, especially if they’re looking for this type of treatment. But you want to make sure that you have something that can build that pipeline. You can use it fast on a lot of cases if you’re only going to use it on occasion and you don’t mind bringing the patient back. There’s other opportunities to use more treatment planning software. And some companies out there, their philosophy is to completely treatment plan a case in order to present it and close it.

We have a completely different philosophy. We say generate interest, get more people who want to get to that next step, which might be treatment planning. You know how to treatment plan. That can happen after the yes happens, get more yeses and help more patients. So something fast and easy is what dental practices should be looking for. Fast, easy and natural. That the simulations look natural. Lots of high tech stuff up there.

[0:15:33]  ALEX NOTTINGHAM: I was going to say you’re very natural at what you’re doing. It’s funny, when we started the podcast, you’re like, oh, I’m running around, I don’t know how prepared I am. And you’re just go, go. You can tell that you know your stuff and you kind of address the first question I have or the next question about service versus software. I know for my father’s practice years ago, and this is before the technology is where it is today, but it still was a good technology. We had photoshop, obviously that’s very advanced.

But the issue was, yeah, the labs would offer a free mockup, but you’d have to wait. What’s nice about what you’re talking about, it really is true. Can this be done quickly? It doesn’t have to be exact. It’s giving an idea of what it is so that we can move forward. And I agree with you. I think to start planning treatment, it’s almost like you’re skipping steps. I mean, Heather likes to sometimes joke and compare it to dating, right? Like, hello, you’re going for the kiss. You didn’t even give me a meal yet. Let’s start with a second, get this done right? And then we’ll get to that. So it’s like you start building this case, and it’s a waste of time.

First we get the buy in on the emotional level. I love it. This makes sense. This isn’t what I always dreamed about. Great. And let’s go and diagnose together. Let’s build a plan that gets you what we’re looking to do. Because really, dentists are problem solvers. You’re there to help somebody achieve their dream. That’s more so than the engineer. Yes, you can do crowns, veneers, implants, but it’s you getting them their dream.

That’s the point. That’s the emotional level, right? So we can say, okay, All Star, we do online training and coaching, all this stuff. Those are tactics, those are features. But we’re looking to transform people’s lives. Those are just the mechanisms. And same thing with you. You didn’t talk a lot about what you do. You talked about the effect that you’re creating for a patient and for a practice. So that makes a lot of sense.

The other thing that comes up, the other question I have for you about financing, and again, my president of coaching, we’re just discussing this, and he’s like, look, from my experience and the research that it’s not the money, why people don’t convert. So what is it? Joanne?

[0:17:51]  JOANNE VILLANI: I think there’s a couple of answers behind that, but I want to say that I talk to a lot of dentists, and they are absolutely adamant that it is the money. That if the other patients trust them, so if they recommend the treatment and the patient has the money, they will absolutely move forward. But I see time and time again, obviously, patients are jumping sometimes when they actually know that they need a treatment, and they’re going to several offices to actually have a consult.

It’s not about the money. It’s about, is it the right office for them? Because when a patient is just coming in and it’s not your regular patient, they’re interviewing you also, so they’re looking at your office. They want to make sure it’s the right office, it’s the right time, it’s the right treatment. And sometimes they’re just afraid to move forward. And when they’re afraid to move forward, they do nothing.

And that’s why we have a lot of patients that say, I’m going to delay treatment, and they actually say, it’s the money. And we call that a sales objection. It’s an objection. It’s not that that’s actually the case because we have seen time and time again that when people really want something, they will come up with the money. But if they’re not sure, it’s an easy thing to say to a practice, they just don’t have the money to do it. Maybe next year, maybe next year.

Sometimes when someone sees their preview, the money fell from the sky, all of a sudden they have the money. When they didn’t have it before. I actually will tell you a story. We have a consultant that really is a fan of our software. And so she was in an office last week and the patient was presented with a $40,000 treatment plan. And the patient said, I don’t want to do that, but I will just do this one thing and I’ll schedule next week.

And I think it was an implant. And they happened to be the day that this consultant was there. So when the patient went in for the one implant, and I believe it was like a full arch reconstruction that she was quoted for, initially they took a picture, sent it into our service, we sent it back. By the time the patient came out of the procedure, looked at the picture and said, I’m going to do the rest of the treatment.

[0:19:53]  ALEX NOTTINGHAM: Wow.

[0:19:53]  JOANNE VILLANI: And this happens.

[0:19:54]  ALEX NOTTINGHAM: That’s powerful.

[0:19:55]  JOANNE VILLANI: Yes, it’s so powerful.

[0:19:56]  ALEX NOTTINGHAM: Well, they say and it’s what is it? A picture paints 1000 words or represents 1000 words. I mean, it’s cliche, but it’s true. I mean, the visual we’re visual creatures. I mean, a lot of the input we get is visual. Seeing it, hearing it’s one thing, painting a picture, but seeing it really makes it powerful. So let me ask you this. For those who’d like to learn more about PreVue, of course they can meet you and you’re delightful one of the co owners at the event. That would be ideal. But if they can’t do that, what can they do?

[0:20:28]  JOANNE VILLANI: So they can go to our website, prevuedental.com, and we spell it a little different. It’s P-R-E-V as in Victor U. So prevuedental.com, there is a link there to schedule a demo so we can do a discovery call, see what the needs are in a particular practice, show you the software, show you how easy it is to generate the simulations, and talk about how we would train your practice in terms of what your ultimate goals are. So really a conversation, just a meeting with us and that they can schedule it right from our website.

[0:20:58]  ALEX NOTTINGHAM: Joanne, thank you so much for being on the podcast.

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