Smile Concepts is a busy 2-chair practice in the Sydney CBD that services a broad clientele of patients from across Sydney who typically come to the city daily to work. Principal, Dr Manish Shah, a dentist who also has an MBBS from the University of Sydney, is well-versed in helping time-poor professionals looking for a better smile.
"High end dentistry has become a lot more competitive today and patients have never been so well informed about what they want as they are right now," Dr Shah said. "Often, when they come in for a consult, they think they know exactly what they want and they're really shopping for a dentist who can help them to achieve it.
"In response to this, we need to ensure we succinctly communicate our skills and competence to patients during the consultation to the point where they are unequivocally accepting treatment by the end of the session."
Dr Shah said that patients today are immersed in a world of multimedia and high technology and relate well to the incorporation of these mediums during the consultation process.
"We are always looking for ways to connect with patients so that they understand the treatment they are considering, its possibilities and limitations as well as our skill as practitioners to deliver it," he said.
"To this end, some two years ago, we commenced using SNAP Cosmetic Imaging Software as a tool to visually simulate the results of treatment in the context of the patients' own mouth."
Dr Shah explained that at the start of the consult, an extraoral image of the patient smiling is taken and during the appointment, a staff member uses the "library" of smiles included with the SNAP software to simulate the anticipated results of treatment. This process, in effect, creates a before and after image to help patients understand what they can expect.
"SNAP has proven itself to be very beneficial in helping patients understand the expected outcomes of treatment. We use it as part of the consultation process for practically all patients requiring restorative work and it is ideal for simulating crowns, veneers, bridges and a range of other procedures.
"Our whole team was trained on the system by Leslie Schneider, the distributor of the software, but we essentially now have one staff member who creates the simulations in the software and has become very adapt at using the system.
"We take a photo before the consult starts and the simulation is created in the back office whilst I discuss treatment with the patient. Then, towards the end of the consult, I can call up the before and after images and patients literally go 'WOW!'.
"In the past, making that connection was a far more laborious process that involved models and wax-ups and a variety of other tools. Now, without even touching the patient, SNAP gives them a clear understanding of what to expect. At the same time, it also makes us look like we know what we're doing.
"I know that there will be dentists reading this who will dismiss SNAP as a gimmick, but from a dental perspective, we are presenting the same treatment we have always offered to patients with the goal of achieving their aesthetic and functional requirements, only now immediate acceptance has markedly increased. People simply respond far better when they see a new smile on their own face."
Dr Shah said the prior to using SNAP, approximately 50% of patients accepted treatment at the time it was presented. This has now increased to over 80%.
"SNAP is a very useful tool, but it is only a simulation and we are careful to stress to patients that it is a guide only and not a definitive guarantee of the final result.
"However, if a patient comes in with very bad teeth and low self-esteem, this technology instantly boosts their confidence because they can see how accepting the proposed treatment will change their life. There have actually been a couple of cases where patients have basically said, stop talking - book me in now!"