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Improving treatment acceptance

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  Posted by: The Probe      8th April 2021

Treatment acceptance is vital. However, gaining treatment acceptance is not always easy, and patients can refuse your treatment plans for a number of reasons.

So, how can you boost treatment acceptance among your patients?

The facts

Levels of treatment acceptance are likely lower than you would imagine. According to one source, treatment acceptance is only 50 to 60% for established patients and a shockingly low 25% to 35% for new patients.[i] Another source indicates that average treatment acceptance is only 61%.[ii]

Of course, this figure will wildly vary depending on the treatments you’re offering and the relationship you have with your patients, but this doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement!

Why do patients turn down treatment?

Perhaps the most important first step is to look at your current levels of treatment acceptance and track them so that you have a comprehensive overview of your situation. By doing so, you can easily identify areas that need improvement.

It’s important to consider the potential reasons behind why people may be turning down treatment. Unfortunately, this is not a black and white scenario, and there are many factors that can influence a patient’s decision. For example, financial reasons could come into play, if a patient feels like they are unable to afford the treatment offered. Another reason could be that patients simply do not understand the treatment being suggested and discard it because they do not want to agree to something they can’t understand.

A third reason could be that the patient doesn’t believe in what you are offering them and wants a second opinion. This rejection is usually due to a lack of trust.

In all of these situations there’s the added factor that no one enjoys looking like they can’t afford or don’t understand something. Equally, it can be difficult to express if they don’t trust you and your team. This awkwardness can make patients extremely unwilling to go further with discussions about treatment.

Offer them options

Arguably one of the easiest ways to help improve treatment acceptance is to offer multiple options that can appeal to different people. For example, say a patient has a missing tooth – a dental implant may be the most financially beneficial treatment for the practice, but the cost of this could be prohibitive for a patient. As such, it’s important to always discuss all other solutions such as partial dentures or a bridge. By keeping your language open and asking questions such as “which of these options would work best for you?” you can help them commit to a treatment that is within their means and bypass the shame that may come with them not being able to commit to a more expensive choice.

Keep things simple

Although using scientific terms is second nature for many dental professionals, for patients this can be overwhelming and lead to them not understanding the treatment being offered. Therefore, you need to make any information as accessible and simple as possible.

You can do this with the help of visual aids, written information and video material or just try to explain each treatment as simply as possible. Diagrams and models are another good option, and can help patients to understand the processes of complex treatment in a straightforward way. Another excellent idea is to invest in technology that can show patients a visualisation of what their smiles will look like after treatment.

For example, the CS 9600 CBCT system from Carestream Dental is fitted with an innovative Face Scan feature that generates realistic 3D facial images and automatically superimposes surface scans on CBCT images and 3D models. This way you can show patients their teeth in a more dynamic and easy to understand way.

Build a bond of trust

Case acceptance rates are heavily influenced by trust. In fact, it’s estimated that 85% of treatment acceptance stems from trust, while only 15% is based on technical ability of the clinician.[iii]

As such, it’s a good idea to build a good rapport with patients to ensure that they are comfortable and at ease. For regular patients this is easier as you can recall details about their lives and approach conversations with them from a position of knowledge. For new patients, however, it’s a good idea to ask how they are feeling, let them tell you a bit about their lives and generally try to get to know them as much as possible. Be candid with them and open to hearing about them and their experiences, especially if they are nervous about treatment. This way, you can help to allay any fears and improve treatment acceptance by building a thread of trust.

Help them say yes!

In the end, boosting your treatment acceptance rate is about trust, understanding and giving patients options. By taking the time to relate to your patients and using technology that helps to illustrate any treatment in a clear, easy-to-understand way, you can help ensure that patients will be ready to say yes!


For more information, contact Carestream Dental on 0800 169 9692 or


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Nimisha Nariapara is the Trade Marketing Manager at Carestream Dental covering the UK, Middle East, Nordics, South Africa, Russia and CIS regions. She has worked at Carestream Dental for the past 7 years, where she has developed her marketing skills and industry knowledge to bring the core values and philosophy of the company to the market. 


[i] Dentistry  iQ. How Dental Newsletters Can Boost Case Acceptance. Link: [Last accessed December 20].

[ii] Dentistry iQ. July Data Bite. Here’s The National Average for Case Acceptance. Link: [Last accessed December 20].

[iii] Dentistry iQ. Communicating Trust – The Key To Dental Treatment Acceptance. Link: [Last accessed December 20].

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