I was perusing mass emails in my spam folder when I came across one from OrthoYes. It was interesting for lots of reasons but the thing that struck me most were the assumptions that almost all orthodontists make – assumptions that were readily apparent in this email. Identifying assumptions is difficult and I love to take advantage of any opportunity to discover things about myself or our profession that are hidden to me. Here’s a list of assumptions found in this email that I believe most of us orthodontists have:

  1. My office is the top office and my results are the best – at least in my area if not the world! But if we all think this then, logically, doesn’t that mean that all but one of us is wrong? Upon what do we base our firm belief that we are the best? How does believing so help or hurt us? Is it useful to believe that we are the best when the odds are against it? If we believe this without proof or question does that help or inhibit the attainment of self knowledge and growth?
  2. Shoppers are bad. Those who ask for lower fees or consider fees when choosing an orthodontist are bad. I hate shoppers! But don’t we orthodontists shop incessantly when it comes to buying equipment, supplies, brackets, cars, boats, etc.? Don’t we demand discounts for group purchases, volume, because we are awesome and for any other reason we can imagine? Doesn’t it make sense for a parent or an adult patient to visit several offices and consider price before choosing to spend a significant amount of money? Do we dislike shoppers or is it shoppers who don’t buy from us that make us unhappy? Should we give any credence to the opinions of shoppers who ultimately didn’t buy from us? Probably… but only if we want to learn how to improve ourselves and win in the future.
  3. The difference between total fees is not an issue – the affordability of the financing is all that matters. Perhaps this was true 10 years ago (I used to think and act this way with great success but then the world changed) and it may still be true in isolated areas, but given the price transparency the internet and social media afford consumers I don’t think this is true any longer. The degree to which orthodontists discount fees to win the shopping battle argues against this point as does the difference between what we orthodontists think our price is vs what it really is.
  4. 1000 dollars is not a lot of money. It is a ton of money to most people! Not to mention I hear orthodontists squawk about way less than that when they are trying to “get a deal” on some supplies or equipment. $1000 bucks is a ton of money. To believe otherwise is unproductive self delusion.
  5. $41.66 a month is not a lot of money to a consumer. It certainly is – that plus it’s not just $41.66 – it’s $41.66 plus the rest of the monthly fee. The idea that this substantial increase to the monthly payment is not an issue for patients is just plain crazy. It’s amazing that we’ve talked ourselves into believing such things.
  6. Treatment should normally be financed for less than 24 months. When the email mentions that you should go straight to 24 month financing for a shopper that makes this assumption pretty clear! If you believe this and you’re wondering why you don’t start more cases then you may want to reassess your affordability level and understand the percentage of the population who can afford your financing at a higher fee with shorter terms.
  7. My office is so much better than the other office that it’s in the patient’s best interest to pay more to see me. Again, we all can’t be best simultaneously. Upon what do we base our assumption that we are better or even the best? Why do we all believe this to be the case?
  8. Offices that offer lower fees than my office are terrible and the orthodontists there do bad work. Orthodontists are represented by our fee (or so we all believe) therefore, logically, the higher my fee the better an orthodontist I am. This makes zero sense but it is believed to the point that orthodontists would rather go broke than align their pricing with reality. This is also why orthodontists claim to have higher prices than they actually do which makes ZERO sense.

Of course our assumptions will turn out to be true sometimes and we will certainly remember the times that reality aligns (or appears to align given our paradigm) with our beliefs while we ignore any evidence to the contrary. This cognitive bias is not useful to the point of being detrimental to our success. Though we often talk like it, I don’t believe many orthodontists truly believe they are perfect. Once we admit we are not perfect then doesn’t it make sense to look for ways we can improve what we do, how we do it and how we make what we do more attractive to the most consumers? If so then finding and testing our assumptions is an excellent way to do this. Self improvement is awesome but it’s almost impossible without self-knowledge!

Have a great weekend!


Orthodontic Assumptions