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Sunday, July 31, 2011

101 Top marketing ideas

This is a list that was posted on Hygienetown 
recently, we aren't sure who compiled the 
list but it has some good ideas/ review 
of things we have all heard before.

101 Top Marketing Ideas for Your Office


   1. Children can be one of the best ways to build a practice. 
Treat them right and the family will follow. First the child comes in, 
then the mom, then a referral from the mom, and finally the dad c
omes in with a toothache.

   2. On a first visit, let young or apprehensive children experience 
a “happy” visit where they can be introduced to you and the office.

   3. Children love toys. Have a special prize box with unique and 
interesting prizes from which they may choose. Reward with double or triple 
prizes for especially good behavior. Have monthly drawings for larger prizes. 
You can do this for your adult patients also.

   4. Give a child a gold dollar after treatment or give the coin to the 
parent to place under their pillow after an extraction. Learn a few magic
 tricks to entertain the kids during treatment.

   5. Provide a children’s play area complete with video games,
 books, and a television.

   6. Have a camera available to take pictures of young patients and
 let them post the photos on a wall.


   7. Give away a coffee mug with your name and logo on it filled with 
goodies such as toothpaste and floss. Have it shrink wrapped by a 
local organization such as Easter Seals.

   8. Send to or give patients magnets embossed with your logo and 
phone number that they may place on their refrigerator.

   9. Remember your most important asset. Treat your staff to a surprise
 shopping-spree at Christmas time. Offer only two rules—
they have to spend the money on themselves and you get to keep 
the change. Provide simple perks throughout the year.

  10. Keep dinner gift certificates on hand to give to patients when you are 
running late or to celebrate a special occasion.

  11. Hand out Starbucks or similar gift cards to patients whenever needed.

  12. Have fresh flowers in the waiting room. Give the flowers away to 
a patient to celebrate an occasion.

  13. Give away toothbrushes with your name imprinted on them to
 all recare patients. Also, hand out these toothbrushes to schools,
 civic groups, etc.

  14. Buy multiple copies of a motivational or special book and
 personally give it to the patients after treatment.


  15. Make care calls to patients who were treated earlier that day. 
This is one of the most important practice builders. Address any
 concerns and begin any conversation with “I just wanted to see how 
well you are doing.”

  16. Set up and maintain a quality website. Keep the information up-to-date.

  17. Provide and distribute an office brochure. Personalize it so patients 
can make a connection.

  18. Send postcards to patients to stay in touch and to celebrate holidays 
such as Thanksgiving and New Years. For many patients, you will
 be like the fire department. They will not need you until an emergency.

  19. Acknowledge birthdays. Send a birthday greeting to each patient 
in a format which lists what happened on the day they were born. 
Excellent software is available from Spectrum Unlimited 

  20. Have a box of greeting cards on hand to send to 
patients such as Congratulations and Happy Anniversary.

  21. Send out thank you cards or letters to thank patients for their referrals. 
Consider doing something special for multiple referrals.

  22. Have each staff member hand-write one thank you note each 
day to a patient that they encountered thanking them for the visit 
or whatever special moment they shared during their time together. 
This can be wishing them a safe vacation, congratulations on their 
new grandson, or a new recipe they should try. 
Seek to build a relationship with your patients that differentiates 
your practice.

  23. Get email addresses and cell phone numbers from your patients. 
Send out reminders, announcements, or e-newsletters. 
This information can be integrated with some web site 
companies such as Dental Sesame 
( to communicate via 
email or text messaging.

  24. Always try to keep your name in front of the patients. 
Send out a newsletter several times a year. This can be done
 via direct mail or electronically.

  25. Send out a new patient packet including a welcome letter.

  26. Offer your home phone number to patients who may need it, 
especially after difficult procedures.

  27. Send out post-treatment letters to your patients.


  28. Schedule lunch or a meeting with several physicians or 
professionals in your area and let them know that you are accepting
 new patients.

  29. Get to know several area pharmacists and let them know that
 you are available for emergencies.

  30. Hairdressers are some of the best referrals. 
Get to know several shops and send over lunch.

  31. Print business cards for your staff and encourage them 
to hand them out in all their daily affairs.

  32. Sponsor local sports teams. Advertise in church bulletins or
 school sponsored activities.

  33. Let patients know that you are accepting new referrals.

  34. Always market internally with your existing patient base first and foremost.

  35. Send flowers to a special patient for any reason at work. 
This will surprise them and impress their co-workers.

  36. Sponsor a local food drive or other event. 
Commit to a charity and get your practice involved.


  37. Furnish a business area in the waiting room with a phone 
and computer.

  38. Wow your patients at every opportunity. Be creative!
 Use your imagination and ingenuity.

  39. Provide a warm towel to patients after treatment. 
More information is available at
 After difficult procedures, provide your patient with a reusable 
ice pack with your logo on it to take home.

  40. Have umbrellas available to give to patients when they leave
 during a storm.

  41. Have some pillows and blankets available for patient comfort.

  42. Make sure you have a wide array of up-to-date magazines. 
Provide general interest books such as 
The Guinness Book of World Records, The Far Side, 
or the Top 10 of Everything.

  43. Provide the daily newspaper along with USA Today and 
The Wall Street Journal in your waiting room.

  44. Offer to copy magazine articles or recipes for the patient. 
Even give the magazines away.

  45. Place flat screen televisions in the operatory for patient
enjoyment and education. Provide cable or show movies. 
Provide a list of movies or such to choose from.

  46. Provide state of the art stereo headphones (noise reduction),
 CD or MP3 players, and music for your patients.

  47. Instead of silence on the telephone, place an 
on-hold message system or music for your patients while they
 are on hold.

  48. Have a makeup area available for patients complete
 with a wall mirror that they can use after treatment.
 Provide hooks in the operatory where patients can
 hang coats or other items.

  49. Designate a spot in the waiting room to be the
 refreshment center. Serve coffee and refreshments.
 Provide bottled water with your logo on it.


  50. Provide painless injections (and this means painless).
 Develop the proper techniques if necessary. 
This is one of the most important marketing skills.

  51. Use analogies to which patients can relate. 
For example, “These fillings have 100,000 miles on them
 and may only go another 20,000 miles, not a lifetime.”

  52. Provide patients with a tour of your office including
 the sterilization area. The patient can best measure your 
sterilization techniques by office cleanliness and appearance.
 Take the time to sit in each dental chair and notice
 what the patient sees.

  53. Place a strong emphasis on patient education and have 
numerous items such as videos, models, books, and pamphlets
 on hand. Consider programs such as Caesy, Guru,
 or Dr. Christensen’s Simple Patient Education for Every Practice.

  54. Always explain. Let your patient know what to expect and
 be available for questions. For example, 
tell the patient the tooth could be sensitive for a few days.

  55. Offer the patient treatment options including alternatives, 
advantages, disadvantages, costs, risks, and doing nothing. 
This is an important part of informed consent.

  56. Let the patients know that they are in a state-of-the-art 
environment. Inform them of courses you have taken or honors 
that you have received. Promote your continuing education. 
Give the patients the confidence that they are in the hands 
of a skilled practitioner!

  57. Hang your diplomas in clear view for all the patients to see. 
Frame all your accomplishments.

  58. Find groups in your area that welcome speakers such as a 
Diabetic Association, PTA, or civic club and offer to make 
a presentation on a pertinent dental topic.

  59. Participate in community activities such as health fairs.

  60. Offer to visit schools for presentations during 
Children’s Dental Health Month.

  61. Take before and after pictures of your patients. 
Ask for patient testimonials about their treatment. 
Make these available to show your patients and for those
 considering similar procedures. Place on your website.


  62. Whatever it takes—Make the Patient Feel Important. 
The acronym used in business is MMFI—“Make Me Feel Important.”

  63. Inform the patients if they are left waiting. 
Patients appreciate that the Doctor acknowledges 
the patient’s time. Do something special if they have to wait too long.

  64. Keep a sheet in the patient’s chart identifying things such 
as where they lived, went to school, hobbies, special events etc
. This will help remind you the next time you see the patient and can 
serve as a good “ice breaker.” Patients enjoy your connection.

  65. See the patient as a person and remember to remain 
in the moment with the patient. 
Understand the patient has only one experience in your office.

  66. Have fun while working with the patient in the operatory,
 but always include the patient. Avoid conversation that does not
 involve the patient.

  67. Always give the patient more than they expect from the
 time they first call the office to when they leave the appointment. 
This more than anything will create value.

  68. Use humor with your patients. It helps to provide a 
connection between the doctor and patient and can relieve stress.

  69. Compliment your patients and staff whenever possible. 
Everyone likes to be complimented.

  70. Always greet your patients with a friendly handshake, 
a warm smile, and even a hug. Address patients by name.

  71. Always maintain a caring attitude toward your patient and 
show genuine interest.

  72. Acknowledge all patients at all times, whether they be
 in the reception area or operatory.

  73. Allow the patient to rest during long procedures. 
This will allow you free time for a hygiene check or a phone call.

  74. Always have someone walk the patient to the front desk or restroom.

  75. Have the front desk person greet new patients by walking
 into the reception area. The doctor can do the same if he is available.

  76. Introduce the assistant to the patient as their personal concierge. 
Make the patient feel special.

  77. Encourage and promote an enthusiastic staff. 
Create an energetic environment.

  78. Support your patients’ businesses.

  79. Clip out newspaper articles about your patients 
and send it to them with a warm greeting.


  80. Make sure your office décor is pleasant, comforting,
 and up-to-date. Schedule a time when you and your team can 
go out into the parking lot and walk in through the front door and 
observe the practice from the patients’ point of view. Notice everything 
and simulate the experience from the waiting room to the operatory 
and back to the front desk. Note any changes you would recommend.

  81. Have every operatory decorated with a different theme or idea.
 One could be a sports room with sports memorabilia and another 
could be a French garden. The assistant could ask the patient which 
room he or she would like to be seated or simply say, “Mr. Jones, 
today we are taking you to Paris.”

  82. Put some thought into decorating the bathroom and make
 sure it is clean at all times. This is one area of the office that 
patients are alone and should have high impact.

  83. Decorate the office for special holidays.

  84. Have your office sign visible from the street if possible. 
Make sure it is lit at night.

  85. Have your staff coordinate aesthetically pleasing uniforms.

  86. Have your staff wear name tags.

  87. Place photos of you and your staff on the wall in a 
common area or in the waiting room.

  88. Use aromatherapy. Even consider baking fresh bread 
in the break room as an added bonus.


  89. Find a reason to celebrate each and every day.

  90. Show confidence in everything you do in front of the patient.

  91. Believe in yourself. Carry with you the motto from the
 movie Field of Dreams: “If you build it, they will come.”


  92. Have a consistent and strong financial policy. 
At the same time, offer patients financial options.

  93. Offer a sequential or gradual treatment plan for 
patients that cannot afford it.

  94. Phase treatment. Do treatment sequentially over 
a period of months or years. Treatment planning is always
 easiest when you ask yourself one question and one question
 only, “What would I do in my own mouth if I were the patient?”

  95. Offer free prophies or whitening to a bride or spouse to be. 
Offer this for other special occasions as well.

  96. Don’t charge your patients for many services. 
This will go a long way to building a long-term relationship. 
Try to build a patient for life, not for the moment.

  97. Don’t be afraid to redo something at no-charge or a reduced fee. 
Don’t a la carte everything you do. Patients will appreciate it more
 than you realize.

  98. Provide varied and convenient hours. 
Work at times when other dentists may not be available such
 as Friday afternoons, Saturday mornings, or one evening a week.

  99. See all emergencies the same day and be available 24 hours
 a day. This can be an important practice builder.

 100. Go slow, introducing low-budget front-end cosmetic
 procedures such as whitening or bonding.

 101. Utilize an intra-oral camera system.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Once you set up your facebook page your main goal is to get fans- 
                                                     but how? 
Dental offices have are uniquely set up to promote themselves on facebook, 
you already have a loyal following of patients who "like" you-           
now you just have to get them to push a button.                                                                                                              Facebook has made the patient referral system a no brainer for your patients- 
now its up to you to get them involved online.

Promote your page in your office-MAKE IT EASY
  • Is your office Wi-Fi- can patients login to their accounts while in your waiting room?
  • iPADs- have a n iPAD in your waiting room- set the home screen as facebook,                                    ask patients to follow you

Utilize your patient base:
  • Do you gather emails? now is the time to use them- send out an email announcing  your                           new page- ask patients to follow you. 
  • Do a drawing for free whitening out of the patients  who do follow you
  • If you don't want to send out an email put a blurb about your facebook page on your                                    reminder cards.
  • Put a "like" button on your website

  • Quizzes, questions, polls, surveys, drawings, contests...                                                                                  You want your followers to comment- this is how there "friends" will see your info                                   (tips on running a promotion)
  • Personnel stories- Dr. Smith just got back from Ireland- post some pictures
  • CE updates- Dr. Jones just completed an advanced  course on dental implants
  • Charity work- our donated toothbrushes finally reached the children in Zimbabwe                      pictures if possible
  • Education- weekly intersting health/dental related tip
  • Cosmetic- before and after pictures-veneers ortho                                                                                   (don't forget to get a release signed for use of the pictures)
  • Congratulations- graduating class 2011, new baby Smith family
  • Patient Promotion- patient just opened a business, published a book
  •  FIll the schedule- last minute cancellation, first person to call and schedule ...
The possiblities are endless...

Additional information:

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Monitoring Hygiene Production

The idea of tracking production for dental hygienists is often met with resistance. It can be difficult as a health care professional to see that in addition to providing health related services for patients you are also an active participant in a business. If the business isn't producing a profit then at some point you won't be able to provide your services.

Tracking production provides usual information for numerous reasons, including:
  • No surprises:  you will know how the practice is doing financially
  • Keeps you on your toes:  extra motivation on those days when you feel a little lazy
  • Comparison: you can easily track stats year to year/ month to month (new pts, $, hours worked,etc...)

Below is an example of the excel sheet that I use:

I enter the following information:
  • Available hours                                             
  • Actual hours seeing patients
  • Total number  of patients seen
  • Number of new patients

The spread sheet calculates the following information daily and monthly:
  • Number of returning patients
  • Average hourly production
  • Adjusted average hourly production
  • Hours of open appointments
  • Daily possible production
  • Money lost

To request a copy of the above excel sheet contact me at

Check out this article for a more involved model of production monitoring

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Worth a Look

In January our office attempted to start transitioning towards paperless. We currently have digital xrays and periochart on the computer-(we use Denchart- it is wonderful).We thought we would take the next step by utilizing our software's (Dentech) clinical notes feature. For months we put our notes in the computer only to realize it is a pain to review the notes- so we stopped.
We are now revisiting ways for our practice to move towards the future and it seems that the software we currently use is not as advanced as we would like.
I posted a question on Hygienetown asking if anyone had a system that they would recommend and I received numerous recommendations for Open Dental- we are in the process of investigating.

The responses that I received about this system include:

  • It's FREE
  • It takes about an hour to get up and running
  • Information is stored in the "cloud" (its accessible from anywhere- all the time)
  • Fast
  • Easily facilitates going paperless
To see what people are saying about Open Dental click here
                     Testimonials click here

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

New Sealant Technique

Over the years I have placed numerous sealants, I have always felt a little uneasy when placing the sealant- asking myself is this really protecting this tooth or am I raising the odds that this tooth will someday need further treatment.

The first rule of sealant placement is ISOLATION- we all know it and I tend to think whatever technique works best for you is the one you should use.

Even when I felt that I achieved total isolation I still thought there must be a better technique to placing sealants.

I recently started following Dr. Gordon Christensen's sealant technique and I have never felt better about my sealants.
I urge you to try this technique and see for yourself:

1) Clean the tooth. Use an air slurry polisher (Cavitron® Jet Plus?, Prophy-Jet?, or many other brands) on the grooves of the tooth. This sodium bicarbonate slurry removes stain, plaque, and any minimal calculus that may be present. If this is not done, acid used in the sealant technique cannot penetrate into the tooth grooves, plaque remains, and in my opinion, the sealant is doomed to eventual failure beginning on the day it was placed. Stain or calculus on the tooth surface will also provide a false positive reading with the DIAGNOdent. Remove the stain and calculus!
2) Diagnose the tooth for caries. Observe the tooth clinically with a radiograph or a DIAGNOdent. If no overt observable carious lesions are present, continue to step three.
3) Neutralize the sodium bicarbonate residue. Place conventional phosphoric acid gel or liquid into the grooves for a few seconds to neutralize the basic sodium bicarbonate. Wash off the soluble “salt” produced in the acid-base reaction.
4) Acid-etch the tooth. Use your routine acid-etching material, either liquid or gel, to produce a standard acid etch of the grooves. If the grooves are especially deep, tracing them with a sharp explorer will assist in eliminating the bubbles in the grooves. Wash off the acid.
5) Wet the grooves with unfilled liquid resin. Use any unfilled resin to break the surface tension in the groove area. As an example, this liquid can be the last component of any multi-bottle bonding agent, such as the commonly used second component of CLEARFIL? SE (Kuraray) bond or other brands. After applying this material, blow on the tooth surface to the extent that only a very thin layer of the liquid remains.
6) Place the sealant. For more than 20 years, I have used as my sealant material a very small amount of the same fully-filled restorative resin that I place in a typical Class I or Class II resin restoration. The technique is simple. Place a small amount of the putty restorative resin on the groove area. Place your bonding-agent lubricated fingertip on the resin on the occlusal surface, warm up the resin for a few seconds with your finger, push the resin into the grooves, slide your finger off the tooth to the facial or lingual, observe the bulk of resin to make sure it is not too much, and cure the resin. You have now placed a “sealant” that will last indefinitely! If you prefer to place more flowable conventional sealant materials, do so. However, you should expect the conventional sealant materials to have a shorter service life than standard restorative resins due to lower filler content, less strength, and less adequate wear resistance.

For the full dental economics article click here

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Periodontal Disease- Classifications and Coding

Our office recently decided to review the ADA and AAP classifications of periodontal disease. Its amazing how you forget things if you don't use them all the time :)

(based primarily on attachment loss)

Case Type I: Gingivitis: no attachment loss, bleeding may or may not be present

Case Type II: Early Periodontitis: pocket depths or attachment loss 3 - 4 mm
                                                   BOP may be present
                                                   localized areas of recession
                                                   possible class I furcation involvement

Case Type III: Moderate Periodontitis: pocket depths or attachment loss 4 - 6mm
                                                         Grade I or II furcation
                                                         class I mobility

Case Type IV: Advanced Periodontitis:  pocket depths or attachment loss over 6mm
                                                             Grade II or III furcation
                                                             mobility Class II or III

(identifies distinct types of periodontal disease by subdivision)
for a more comprehensive list click here

  • Plaque- Associated Gingivitis
    • Chronic Gingivitis
    • ANUG (acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis)
    • Gingivitis associated with systemic conditions or Medications
      • Hormone induced
      • Drug induced
      • Linear Gingival Erythema
  • Gingival Manifestations of Systemic Diseases and Mucocutanieous Lesions
    • Bacterial, Viral or Fungal
    • Blood Dyscrasias
    • Mucocutaneous Diseases (lichen planus, cicatricial pemphigoid)

  • Adult Periodontitis- plaque associated
  • Early - Onset Periodontitis
    • Prepubertal
    • Juvenile Periodontitis
    • Rapidly Progressive Periodontitis
  • Periodontitis Associated with Systemic Diseases
  • Necrotizing Ulcerative Periodontitis
  • Refractory
  • Peri-implantitis


D1110 : Adult Prophy; removal of plaque, calculus and stain from the tooth structures in the permanent and transitional dentition. It is intended to control local irritational factors.

D4910: Periodontal Maintenance; this procedure is instituted following SCRP and continues in varying intervals... if new or recurring periodontal disease appears additional diagnostic and treatment procedures must be considered (maintain disease remission)

D4341: SCRP four or more teeth per quadrant; crown and root

D4342: SCRP one to three teeth per quadrant

D0180: Comprehensive Periodontal evaluation- new or established patients showing signs or symptoms of disease

For more information on coding and billing click here
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