The “Have To’s” and the “Want To’s”

Dr. Lee Sheldon

When you hear a treatment plan from a dentist, there are several steps involved in such a plan. Sometimes, with many steps and a lack of understanding about each step, it’s easy to get lost or overwhelmed by the treatment presentation.

My job as a consulting periodontist is not to sell dentistry. Of course, to be crass, people come to see us to “buy something.” And therefore there is the idea that I’m selling something, correct?

Have you ever met a person that was good at selling? Have you ever met someone who was bad at selling? What was the fundamental difference? Was it that he or she was nicer? Nope. Was it that the person had specialized knowledge? Possibly. Was it that the salesperson cared about you and what you wanted? Bingo!

When a treatment plan is presented to you, it can be presented as an entire block of treatment. Or it can be presented in a list of priorities. I call it the “have to” and “want to.” The “have to’s” are the active infections, tooth decay, and periodontal disease. The “want to’s” are the decorating and filling in the gaps of missing teeth. The “have to’s” need to be done. The “want to’s” also have levels of priority. And often, they don’t all have to be done now. There are often some holding actions that we can take until you’re ready to take the next step.

But it comes right down to who that person is on the other side of the chair. When you’ve found the right person, you’ll know it. You’ll know it from the smile. You’ll know it from that person’s ability to listen. And you’ll know it from that doctor’s concern about you.

Lee N. Sheldon, DMD
Solid Bite
2223 Sarno Road
Melbourne, Florida 32935