Because dental marketing is what we do, it’s important we learn about dentistry whenever and wherever we can.
I’ve picked up a lot from reading dental publications, researching online, networking with colleagues, talking with our doctors, as well as attending dental events and listening to the speakers.
I learned a few interesting things at a Paragon Management meeting recently. (For those of you who don’t know Paragon, they are a dental practice management company that serves over 400 practices. Their Excelleration meetings presented by Ken Runkle are invaluable for doctors. I learn a ton from Ken.)
You probably already know these things, but bear with me for a moment. Here are some facts as presented by Hope Retorik, a consultant with Paragon.
- The average recare frequency is 11 months.
- The percentage of recare patients that have a cleaning every six months is 17%.
- The concept of six-month recare is not based on scientific evidence but possibly originated from a toothpaste company over 50+ years ago and then adopted by insurance companies.
- The recare cycle that has been scientifically proven is three months.
This was all pretty eye-opening for me, especially from a marketing perspective.
If the average recare frequency is 11 months and the average patients with cleanings every six months is 17%, how many patients have fallen off your schedule and are hanging in limbo?
What should you be doing to get and keep your patients on a more frequent hygiene schedule?
The scientifically proven recare cycle has never been mentioned to me by my hygienist or dentist. Maybe it is because I have pretty good oral health. Is this something you share with all of your patients?
Right now, I see the dentist every four months. I like having my teeth cleaned and since I don’t have dental insurance I figure I can have it done as often as I’d like. But, ANYONE can get their teeth cleaned more than once every six months (or 11 months!). I would bet, if your hygienists make a habit of educating the patient on the scientifically proven recare cycle, you’d be doing a lot more hygiene.
I’ve read a bit on caries recently, about how they become more prevalent in people as they age due to gum recession and the exposure of the root. I always thought cavities were for kids! Not that adults can’t get them, but that the percentage of caries are higher in children than in adults due to diet. I’m sure I’m not alone on this misconception. It would seem that every practice should be talking about this as soon as the patient is at the age where recession becomes prevalent, letting them know that fluoride treatment may be in their future, if not needed right then.
Education has to start somewhere. If you are educating your patients all along the way, when the day comes where treatment is necessary, they are more apt to move forward. They know it’s coming. But when things are sprung on them, they are more skeptical. Why? Because they never heard anything about it before this moment. It makes it all a little sketchy.
The point in all of this is to demonstrate the importance of sharing what you know with your patients and letting THEM make the decision on how to move forward or not. If you believe in the scientific evidence of the recare cycle and that fluoride helps prevent decay, there needs to be a protocol in your office that everyone is following to educate the patient.
A couple of takeaways here:
- Education is so very important. You need to be telling patients what you know that is important to their oral health and let them decide whether or not they want to proceed. Don’t let their insurance limitations make those predeterminations for you or them.
- Marketing is everything. Somebody (Pepsodent or other toothpaste company) marketed the six-month recare frequency which became the standard in the industry. The idea that kids have more cavities than adults also came from marketing, thanks to advertisers targeting moms whose children need to brush their teeth more because of all the sugar they consume.
As professionals in oral health care, you need to be getting your message out there.