Occlusal Splint as a Tool of Persuasion


Many dentists are under the impression that presentation is a specific, isolated procedure.  In my new book I make


the very important point that presentation is not a system or a’s an approach.  Through over the 200 plus pages of the book I continually make that point.

Recently, a new patient entered my practice.  She found me on the Internet (through a piece of the Art of Presentation known as Cyberbranding, that is discussed in the book).  Her chief complaint was discomfort–sore muscles to be specific).  Her bigger problem was that she had a failing 6 unit upper anterior bridge.

She has a dentist.

Her dentist was in the process of making her a new provisional when she told him of her discomfort.  He told her to get that fixed first…but he never referred her…so she found me…by Googling…TMJ specialist…and my name came up #1.

But it’s here where the real adventure begins.

She has a dentist.  She trusts her dentist.  Her intuition told her to stop and get the TMJ problem solved first.

My job…is to take very specific information that I will gather up in a comprehensive examination, and find a way to explain it to her, in a way that makes sense to her.  Along the way  I find many bumps in the road…mostly centered around trust and money.  My first bump is explaining the need for the complete examination.

She said she had radiographs taken recently.  She brought them with her.  Bitewings and a few periapicals revealing the failing terminal abutment of the bridge.

Within a few minutes, by addressing her chief complaint (pain) and relating it to the musculature (by showing her the relationship of muscle contraction and canine guidance…my masseter shuts down while her’s continues to fire), she sees some light.

John Kotter in his book, The Heart of Change, describes the most effective way to persuade people is to use a method he calls See, Believe, Do.  That’s what I did…showed her.  She then believed me and she did the exam.

It’s that quick.  But I still didn’t relieve her pain…just her confusion.

The next step is to prescribe splint therapy.  This takes time.  She’s already told the other dentist to halt the provisional until she gets comfortable.

I know the splint will work.  I’ve made a few in my time.  The more difficult part of this case is to change her thinking…change her beliefs about dentistry…see, believe, do.

The splint will do that.  No pictures of beautiful cosmetic dentistry of how she will look.  No convincing her of how good my work is or that I am an artist.  No photography.

So by showing her the care she was looking for by attending to her chief complaint, and by by providing her with a solution that will actually relieve the pain she can then go forward and address her bigger long term issue...because I exhibited care and competence…the two components of TRUST.

And the splint is the major behavioral tool of change.

There are many lessons here:

1. A confused mind always says no.  That’s why she sought a second opinion.

2.Make the art of explanation a priority.

3. Understand occlusion as a key to opening the door to your more technical skills.

4.  Slow down…build trust.  With people, as Covey says, fast is slow and slow is fast.

These are the lessons I learned through the years at the Pankey Institute, the Dawson Academy and Spear Institute.  Tough lessons with huge payoffs.

The future of dentistry belongs to those who get it…for the others who want to know the next generation of bonding agents or what is the benefit of platform switching….Google it.













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Is Your Team Playing the Same Game as You?






One question that I always get asked is, “Do your hygienists sell dentistry for you?”  I am always taken back by that question because I feel that the ultimate responsibility of selling the case belongs with the dentist.  However, there are certain roles that significantly contribute to the selling process.

Just the other day two staff members approached me just as I was about to sit down and start drilling.  With gloves on and mask in place they informed me that the nine o’clock patient didn’t want his teeth cleaned.  He just wanted a filling place and then he wanted to leave.

Okay…stop action.

If you are a dentist…what would you be feeling right at that moment?

What was I being asked to do?  De-glove and de-mask to go into the next room and tell the patient to get his teeth cleaned?  Of course not.  But how many times during the course of the day are there “opportunities to persuade” that staff members can easily handle.

Now I’m not saying they have to “sell a complex case,” but there are moments when just positional leadership can be quite effective.

In this instance I hold myself responsible for not inspiring my staff to take on the leadership role of persuasion.  And in speaking with my coaching clients, I know that transferring of leadership is something that dentists need to learn.

Dentists have lots of responsibilities during their workday.  They are constantly leading,  and the one responsibility that never goes away is motivating and convincing patients and staff to do what is right for the practice and for health.  Many grow weary of this task…and actually stop doing it.

I feel for the dentists…it is one reason I take leadership so seriously.

So, if you are a staff member…any staff member, take a leadership role and start persuading patients to take action for their own good.  Learn the “reasons why” people should take care of themselves.  Learn the reasons and learn how to best reach patients.

In many cases it’s a lot easier than we think…people are really begging to be lead.

If you want to help your boss—take the lead.

I guarantee it’s appreciated.