Tips for a Successful Dental Practice

Tips for a Successful Dental Practice

By Sheri B Doniger DDS - September 26, 2018
Career Tips for Hygienists

Dentistry is a business, and in my book, Practical Practice Solutions: Building Your Successful Practice, I speak to the needs of building a business from the ground up. While the dental curriculum gives students the tools needed to build expertise it doesn't help them to prepare for dental practice management. "New graduates have little-to-no knowledge of what it is like to run a business, let alone be the CEO of a small company. Practicing dentists are challenged by the demands of keeping current in the field while managing change in the office." Like any other business, dentistry takes patience (and patients) to succeed. My journey from dental assistant to dental hygienist to dentist gave me ideas on how to grow my business.

Career Tip 1

Build interpersonal relationships

There are two types of dental practices, transactional and relationship-based. The transactional practice is so busy, the clinician doesn't have time to chat with their patients, because they are on a strict schedule and possibly an expected production level.

  • Create a relationship-based practice, where you get an opportunity to know your patients and listen to their dental concerns and goals.
  • Have conversations about your patients' lives, not just their teeth. It's not enough to just be able to repair and restore, we need to make our patients feel welcome and treated as an individual, not a number.
Career Tip 2

Invite your patients to refer new business

People search for dentists through various methods, but we know word of mouth is one of the best referral sources because people trust their friends and family to direct them to dentists they like and feel comfortable with.

  • When a new patient calls for an appointment, ask, "Who may we thank for referring you?" Existing clients in our practice refer most new patients, because they love the way they are treated and tell others about how welcoming and great it is.
  • Patients who are referred by others tend to stay in the practice longer than those who come in with a discount coupon or mailer, due to the personal connection with the referring patient.
Career Tip 3

Create a strong online presence

In this time of immediate access, a digital presence is essential for dentists to create a personality and brand that encourages and welcomes patients.

  • An office should have a webpage featuring the practice's phone number, location, hours, services and information about the dentist(s) and team.
  • A mobile-optimized site makes it easy for patients to learn more when they're on the go—if your website isn't easy to navigate from a smart phone, you may be at a disadvantage.
  • Be conscious of what you post on your social channels and consider starting a business page for the practice to separate personal experiences from professional tips.
  • Having a personality online welcomes patients and puts them at ease, especially if they are nervous about coming to your practice.
  • Consider posting a quick office tour on your account. It helps patients become familiar with the practice before they visit the actual space.
Career Tip 4

Offer patients visuals to understand problems

Intraoral photos are a huge practice builder, rather than trying to explain something without the immediate personal connection of intraoral photos, give them a visual they can understand.

  • Patients can't see the whole picture when we hand them a mirror and ask them to find the problem with our small mouth mirror, but when a patient can see the calculus on the lower lingual of the anterior teeth or a cracked restoration, they will be more motivated to discuss the fix and accept the recommended treatment.
Career Tip 5

Share oral healthcare tips with patients

We shouldn't always be focused on selling dentistry, we should also prioritize helping people maintain correct oral hygiene and share tips patients can use at home to help keep their teeth clean and healthy.

  • Utilize tools for dental professionals, like the Wrigley Oral Healthcare Program, which provides free, useful information—including scientific research—on the benefits of chewing sugarfree gum. Help patients understand that when they are unable to access their toothbrush, chewing sugarfree gum like ORBIT® stimulates saliva flow and protects teeth from harmful plaque acids while assisting with food clearance.
  • We all need content. Some of my favorite things about the Wrigley Oral Healthcare Program are the easily shareable (and free) social media assets and the patient brochure, which include how-to tips for patients.
  • Offer sugarfree gum at the end of a visit to give patients something that may be a little different from other practices—it's a surprise they'll love.

We all want our practice to thrive and succeed. Having resources like the Wrigley Oral Healthcare Program on your side—with its extensive online tools and resources—is a great bonus for your career and practice. Utilizing these useful tools will help set your practice apart from others, start today by exploring more tools for dentists on the Wrigley Oral Healthcare Program website.

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