Keeping patients coming to the clinic

August 7th, 2014

Part of a great dental clinic is having the most up-to-date tools, up to and including dental enterprise software. But what about making sure that patients stay up to date? According to a recent study by Delta Dental, half of Americans haven't been to the dentist's office in three years. That's three years of plaque buildup, potential cavity growth, gingivitis and other problems that can be helped with regular dental attendance.

"Going to the dentist regularly is one part of taking care of ourselves," said Dr. Bill Kohn, Delta Dental Plans Association's vice president of dental science and policy. "Taking care of ourselves is taking control, and we feel better about our lives when we do."

An additional finding of the survey was that going to the dentist can improve dental health. This should be obvious to people, however.

Getting people to the dentist's chair
So how does a dental practitioner keep his patients in the loop with their current dental checkups? The usual tools, such as calling every time a patient is due, along with sending postcards, sometimes don't work, according to the study. Many people don't go to the dentist because they think they don't need to. Patients should be informed. Consider looking in your dental software and finding the patients who skip the most trips. Sending them a brochure about how dentistry is safe, necessary and usually quite painless can be a way to bring them back into the fold.

Using the best tools to ensure that natural teeth can be kept
Along with having good patients who come to the practice regularly, dentists should have the best research available for protecting their patients' teeth. If people know you do the right research, they will feel more comfortable coming into the office.

One such guide has recently been announced. Called "Treatment Options for the Compromised Tooth: A Decision Guide," it is available from the website of the American Association of Endodontics.

The book features treatment plans along with case examples that include radiographics and clinical photographs. It can also provide guidance for how to bring about a successful outcome for a patient's natural tooth after it becomes compromised.

"The Treatment Options Guide is great because it includes so many examples of successful endodontics and healing teeth," said Mark Mensh, D.M.D., Mays Landing, N.J. "It's a good reminder of how to work with my endodontist to save patients' natural teeth whenever possible, and it makes it easier to explain some of the more difficult cases to my patients."

The book is available for free.

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