If you work at a dental practice, then promoting better dental health is an inherent part of your job. However, monitoring the candy bowl and pushing oral health facts on your patients, friends, and family has probably gotten old (for you and for them!). Considering fresh, creative ways to encourage positive dental health habits in your community can increase the visibility of your practice as well as give renewed momentum to health-conscious campaigns. Make today’s trends and technologies work for you, and check out these seven ways you can promote dental health inside and outside of your practice:
1. Create a selfie smile wall
It’s possible that you already have a wall of patient photos in your office – a common way for dentists and specialists to display pre- and post-treatment smiles. It’s never too late to encourage positive patient attitudes towards your practice, so start a “wall of smiles” if you don’t yet have one. Add a twist to this tactic by insisting that every photo on the wall is a selfie – you can even buy and decorate a special selfie stick for your waiting room and designate it specifically for post-visit pictures. Highlighting good dental habits with humor is an easy and creative way to promote dental health within your own office.
If your practice uses social media for advertising and dental health education – post patient smile selfies on a social site (with permission, of course).
2. Boost your social media presence
If your practice doesn’t use social media for advertising and community engagement, it should start now. Social media is taking over the world of digital marketing, and has become an almost necessary aspect of bringing visibility to a cause or business. Use social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn to both promote and humanize your practice –– friendly social media posts can help to allay general fear of the dentist and encourage more frequent visits from patients. You can also use social media to post daily dental tips and facts, or push any events related to or sponsored by your office.
3. Speak to a student health class
Instilling healthy habits at a young age is crucial to encouraging overall improvements in dental healthcare and practices. Work with your local school district to communicate with middle school or high school health teachers, and arrange in-class presentations by doctors and technicians from your office at appropriate points throughout the school year. Teachers will appreciate the extra engagement that a speaker brings to a class, and students may better internalize dental health information in a classroom setting (versus the sometimes anxiety-producing setting of their appointments). Elementary-aged children can be reached through in-class presentations as well, or you can help primary school teachers design contests and “rewards” programs around positive dental health care for their younger students.
4. Model healthy eating
Practice what you preach – make sure that your office still provides tasty treats for breaks, holiday parties, or other staff functions, but make sure that they also meet the nutritional requirements that you promote professionally. Especially in recent years, nutritional, health-conscious food has evolved to meet, if not surpass, the taste and satisfaction of classic junk foods. Do some internal taste-testing among your staff, and invest in stocking your favorite healthy snacks. You can also provides suggestions around good healthy brands to your patients — many people continue to eat food that harms their dental health because they just don’t believe that healthy snacks will taste as good, and your example will encourage them to improve their habits.
5. Volunteer your skills
Millions of people in the United States are unable to afford dental care – one way that you can promote dental health outside of your own practice is to volunteer your skills and provide vulnerable populations with the care that they need. Dental Lifeline Network operates a national network of 15,000 volunteer dentists and 3,500 volunteer laboratories to better serve people with disabilities, who are elderly or who are medically fragile who don’t have access to dental healthcare or education. You can increase access to dental healthcare in your community and across the country by volunteering with DLN today.
6. Go digital
Make life easier for your patients and your practice by using HIPAA-compliant digital software and setting up email appointment scheduling and reminders. Using email to notify patients about upcoming visits is now a more successful method of contact than making phone calls or sending appointment cards, and will allow patients to see notifications and respond to messages from your office directly from their mobile devices. Communicating digitally will make it almost effortless to encourage frequent check-ups, as well as share dental health facts or tips with your patients – you can even send some form of a regular e-newsletter, containing info and updates about your practice and news from the wider world of dental health.
7. Become a sponsor
One tried-and-true method of both advertisement and dental health promotion in your community is to become a sponsor. Increase the visibility of your practice by sponsoring a a local school through their email, local theater productions, community fairs and events, or school sports teams. For example, partner with sports teams that require the use of mouthguards – by becoming the team mouthguard provider, you can both encourage this smart dental health practice and gain potential new patients.
Do you have your own creative methods for promoting dental health inside and outside of the office? Tell us about them by tweeting to @DentalLifeline.