As dental healthcare professionals, we are keenly aware of the importance of good oral health and strive to educate our patients, schools and community. The reality is that approximately 50% of the general population do not seek regular and routine dental care. Imagine how busy dental practices would be if we were able to somehow reach and activate even half of this population.
How can we reach and effectively engage all these people? We must first understand the root of the problem (no pun intended). We are all aware of the common obstacles keeping people from getting the dental care they need – time, money, fear, and the overall low value placed on oral health, primarily due to a lack of education. However, let’s focus on the last two factors, fear and lack of education.
Many believe that people don't seek regular dental care because they don't value oral health. Yes, there has been progress with people valuing their smile/esthetics, with teeth whitening and smile enhancement procedures becoming more and more popular. But the HEALTH aspect of dentistry is definitely lacking. Despite all the studies and evidence that oral health directly affects overall health and wellbeing, our message is just not being heard and/or sinking in.
Fear Factor Overcome
It is estimated that as many as 1-in-3 people have some level of anxiety/fear of the dentist. Engaging young children at a very early age should significantly reduce the number of dental phobics.
Special Healthcare Needs
The fun and distraction of the items listed below help those with special healthcare needs to have a comfortable dental experience.
We are always looking for fresh and fun ways to engage and educate our patients, school children and community. As with many educational campaigns, starting with the youth is important. If we can add a fun-factor along with the education, it is a win-win. If we can appeal to the kids, we attract the whole family!
These little pieces of paper are powerful! When a child, teen, or even an adult signs their name to a pledge, it really works to hold them accountable.
There are several excellent dental books available that are fun and engaging. Some come with a toy or other items to enhance the experience.
Finding a website dedicated to oral health awareness and education is a great find. Music, coloring pages, puzzles, and other multimedia can make the experience interactive and highly effective.
Let's face it, kids LOVE cartoons! Are there dental health cartoon characters out there that bring education and fun to the dental experience? Is there a dental health Super Hero ready and willing to come to the rescue and save the day for the kids? Kids learn faster when they are entertained and engaged, and what better way than animation.
The Tooth Fairy is great, but kids just love Super Heroes, especially with capes! If your practice SuperHero also happens to be your mascot, all the better!
The various social media channels give us wide-ranging opportunities to educate, entertain, engage and positively influence. Aligning your practice with a popular and successful brand, including animation and cartoon characters, could really enhance your practice personality and appeal with children and families.
Apps are in, and highly popular and effective. A few to consider:
Children and families respond very well to mascots. Utilizing a dental mascot in your practice, at schools and at community events is a magnet to attract the masses. If the mascot is tied directly to a website, social media, and fun oral health cartoon brand, it's all the better to increase the appeal and overall effectiveness. Sending a personal message from the mascot character directly to the child patient the day before their dental appointment can help reduce fear and enhance the experience positively.
These furry little friends alleviate fear and comfort kids. Toys that are dental themed are even better for education and fun. If the toy is a part of a book/story, it can help create an experience that captures children's imaginations. Keeping them comfortable reduces stress with the dental team and increases efficiency.
Patient Communication Software
Wouldn't it be great to personalize messages to patients for appointment reminders, etc. with a cartoon character that appeals to that particular patient? The usual boring emails and texts all of a sudden become fun and engaging!
Orthodontic Themed Packages
Patients can choose and enjoy their most fun and appealing character!
Campaigns & Causes
We all love a good cause, and what better way to promote good oral health than with a central Brush-Floss-Rinse Campaign that we ALL can rally around and support?! Here’s an example: http://www.mightymolarman.com/parents-corner
Any serious movement or cause must raise money and resources to get the word out and help those in need. A good portion of those 50% who don't see a dentist is because they can't afford the care. http://www.molarsunited.com
Focus on creating an EXPERIENCE for patients that helps your practice stand out from all the rest. Something unique and special will cause families to drive past several closer dental practices to get to your “destination practice”. When you create and offer such an experience, you will most certainly be addressing and putting a big dent in the inactive 50% crowd, while welcoming many new families to your practice.