Gain loyal customers by protecting their long-term oral health.

In many ways, the success of your dental practice relies on your ability to care for your patients’ long-term oral health well. Using your resources to better protect your patients’ long-term oral health will help you build a large base of loyal customers, gain positive online reviews that will help attract new patients, and encourage people to recommend your practice to their friends and families. As a result, it’s important to evaluate your practice’s daily operations regularly and determine what changes you can make to better serve your patients. Here are 5 tips you can use to help your patients maintain a healthier mouth in the long-term.

1. Create a comforting, friendly office environment.

One of the more common reasons that people avoid going to the dentist is dental anxiety, so providing a comfortable, friendly atmosphere in your dental office can actually go a long way to protecting your patients’ long-term oral health. If your patients feel relaxed and welcome at your office and throughout their appointment, they’re much more likely to come back for regular dental appointments. Your office’s interior design should look bright and welcoming instead of clinical or outdated and it should have comfortable seating for your patients to wait in. Additionally, your staff should always be friendly with patients, expending a little extra effort to ease the nerves of anxious patients, or have a short conversation with them while they sign in. Feeling welcome and cared about can do a lot to ease patients’ anxiety, and it’s always nice to return to an office where people are friendly—or even remember you—instead of an office that feels impersonal or clinical.

2. Coordinate your team to constantly teach about periodontal disease and periodontal therapy.

Periodontal disease is an incredibly common oral-health issue, with the CDC reporting that 47.2% of Americans aged 30 and up have gingivitis or periodontitis. Older Americans or patients with risk factors like diabetes or a smoking habit are even more likely to have periodontal disease. This means that some form of the disease likely impacts about half of your patients. Part of the reason periodontal disease is so common is that many patients simply haven’t been educated on the topic. While dental offices often tell patients to floss, they don’t offer much more information than that. So most patients don’t realize how serious periodontal disease can get, especially since it’s often painless until it’s very advanced, how involved periodontal therapy can be for severe periodontitis, or that flossing is the best defense against it.

As a result, it’s important that you coordinate your team’s efforts to ensure that they’re constantly teaching patients about periodontal disease and periodontal therapy. Do your best to strike a balance with your patients, providing quick, easily understood explanations that will help them see the importance of flossing their teeth daily without overwhelming or annoying them. Coordination between your team members is key here because you don’t want your patients to get the same explanation multiple times during their visit. If you do it well, educating your patients on this topic can make a huge difference in their long-term oral and overall health by alerting them to the importance of gum health and encouraging them to begin flossing regularly.

3. Make the most out of the technology you already have at your practice.

Dental technology can play a huge role in attracting new patients and in helping you provide your patients with quick, effective, and comfortable treatments. But the level of care you can provide is dependent on far more than simply what technology you have—it’s also dependent on how you use it. Make the most out of the technology you already have by ensuring that you’re using it to its full potential. If you have an iTero intraoral scanner, for example, you can implement a plan to scan every patient’s teeth every or every other year, which allows you to track their teeth’s movement, detect wear on their teeth, and spot other potential dental issues. This will help you catch issues early, which will save your patients the time, money, and pain that they might have experienced if the issue wasn’t detected before it became serious.

4. Add straight wire orthodontics to your practice.

Offering orthodontic treatments for your patients is a great way to set your practice apart from other general dentistry offices, as the Academy of General Dentistry reports that only about 20% of general dentists offer comprehensive orthodontic treatments in their office. As a result, adding the service to your practice is just as beneficial to your business as it is for your patients’ long-term oral health. Orthodontic treatment is always in demand, so it will draw new patients to your practice while allowing your current patients to receive treatment from a dentist they already know and trust; most patients prefer this to getting treatment from a specialist they’ve never met before. You’ll also be able to grow your practice significantly—adding just two new straight wire orthodontics cases to your practice each month can provide $80,000 in profits during your first two years of offering the treatment. Plus, your patients will benefit from increased oral health, as straight teeth are easier to brush and floss, helping them to avoid periodontitis, and even bites can help prevent or relieve TMJ disorder symptoms. You can register for our hands-on orthodontics course today to get your practice started on this path of growth.

5. Offer your patients flexible financial options.

In a survey, the ADA found that one of the main reasons adults don’t go to the dentist is that they’re worried about the cost of their treatment—out of the survey takers who indicated that they didn’t plan on going to the dentist in the next year, 40.2% shared that cost was the reason. Getting your patients in for a dental cleaning and evaluation every six months is vital for their oral health, however, as it allows you to spot issues early or prevent them entirely. One way you can help ensure that your patients can always afford their care is to offer them flexible financial options like Care Credit or an in-house dental membership program. Which options you use are completely up to you, but providing options and being willing to work with your patients regarding their payment is an essential part of helping them know that they don’t have to skip their regular appointment at the expense of their long-term oral health—they’ll always be able to work with you to find a way to afford their care.

It’s wise to take a step back and determine what areas your general dental practice could improve its service to patients and better protect their long-term oral health. Small changes in the way your office is designed and the way your staff greets patients or large changes like adding straight wire orthodontics to your services can help you provide better care to your patients—and grow your practice while you’re at it!