Let’s Talk About Teeth, not Insurance

By Belle DuCharme, CDPMA/Director of Training Programs eAssist

A survey of dental office managers and dental business staff has revealed some interesting information.  In a typical 8 hour day in the business office of the average solo general practice a whopping 3-4 hours a day is spent contacting by email or calling the insurance companies and then discussing dental insurance with patients.  The topics include coverage, benefits, deductible, coinsurance, exclusions, wait times, policy limitations, pre-determinations, per calendar year maximums and why the insurance doesn’t cover everything script.

We have a practice philosophy and core beliefs in regards to offering our patients the best dental care but barely have time to explain or elaborate after exhausting ourselves explaining about their insurance policies,” lamented Jane, Business Coordinator.

Creating opportunities during the patient’s visit to discuss treatment options should have a team approach.  Finding these moments is the responsibility of every team member and should be planned during the morning meeting.  Structuring the schedule to allow for the dental assistant to be with the patient in the operatory instead of leaving the patient alone or with a magazine.  If the dental team doesn’t think it is important to talk to the patients about the services and new technology the practice offers how would they expect the patient to think it is important?

Leaving the explanation of the treatment to the “front desk” is common in many offices because they think the patient makes their decisions based on insurance coverage and cost alone.  Recent information says that this is not true for all patients and many are looking for the extra attention to detail.

If the clinical team takes the extra time to sit with the patient while the doctor is out of the room to discuss the treatment and any additional services the practice can offer builds on the trust and communication process necessary to accept treatment.  For example: “Mr. Brown, you are probably wondering what a porcelain veneer looks like.  Let me show you a sample.”

Building trust takes time and often the front desk is too busy a place to discuss treatment options.  


Helpful News and Billing Tips; Edition #102


  • This is so true. When the need and process of treatment is carefully explained to the patient by the actual care givers, the patient can see the value and is more likely to complete the treatment.

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