On Marketing Dentistry and Running the Business

  What you read from me here is a big push against the current of popular marketing theory – that we dentists need to appear cool and current to the public and that we need to embrace social media in all its permutations because, after all, so many people (we are told through social media) are having wonderful success “connecting.” You see, I don’t think the question is, “How do we enhance our message in order to attract patients?” The real question in my mind we should be asking is, “How do we return to the compelling message of dental health?” By attempting to be like other businesses, we often lose what is most unique about who we really are, and that would be professionals within the field of dentistry. Certainly people need to find us in the market place, but it won’t be because we have the biggest spread in a magazine, or because we have the most followers on Twitter. I take that back. A few might. They may be caught up in celebrity spin, but most normal people see past this and really want to know if we are (1) nice people and (2) competent at treating the dental problems they are facing. Go ahead and have an announcer claim that you are a nice person and competent in what you do while they are waiting on hold, but I really think they would appreciate (1) not being left on hold too long and perhaps a little soft music to indicate that they have not been cut off (note to self on this one). I guess...

Difference between Periodontal Disease and Gingivitis

Patients Need to Know the Difference between Periodontal Disease and Gingivitis This is more than an academic question to those with gum problems. If you know the difference, you can better manage your own health and better control the cost of dental care. Both Periodontal Disease (also called “Periodontitis) and Gingivitis have similar signs and symptoms to the patients themselves. Both of them cause the gums to swell and bleed. At times, however, both are undetectable by the individual, which results in many people mistakenly believing they are doing just fine. (Hint: if you have not seen a dentist in the past three years, you are pushing your luck). The difference between the two conditions requires a simple test all dentists or dental hygienists routinely perform as a part of a routine dental examination. A small measuring probe is placed between the gum and the tooth. Using just the weight of the probe itself, it is guided to depth. If the pocket measures 3 millimeters or less and does not bleed, it is considered healthy. If the end of the probe is within a millimeter of where the enamel of the tooth meets the root, then no bone loss has occurred. If the gums bleed in this case, then it is gingivitis. If the pocket is greater than 3 millimeters then the cause is likely gum swelling or overgrowth instead of periodontitis. People with a history of periodontal disease and treatment should have frequent probing measurements in order to detect any areas where breakdown may be...

Thoughts About Documentation

Paperwork. I don’t know anyone who likes doing it… including me. But when it comes to documenting patient care, it’s important. Having stated this, we really aren’t taught to do it well. In dental school we document to prove competency, which means we are writing for reasons beyond immediate care of a specific patient. After graduation, for the most part, I would say most of us write too little. Here are a few ideas about documentation that I have found useful. 1. When I first meet a patient, I take notes with a blank sheet of paper, writing down what the patient says in the same way I would take notes during a lecture. Typing on a computer seems a little too impersonal so I don’t use it. 2. When taking an oral history of the patient, I don’t insert my opinion.  If the patient seems mad, I don’t write  that the patient seems mad. Instead I quote what he or she says. This moves documentation away from subjective or opinion statements and toward objective or observation statements. 3. When writing an entry in the record I have a simple outline in mind. Here is my basic order of notation. a. Date b. Patient’s Name (if it isn’t located elsewhere on the page) c. Procedure Title (what is today’s procedure?) The reason I like to do this is because later on when I am looking back on my notes it is easier to read through titles than it is having to read through entire entries. d. Medical Status Statement and Vital Signs — in order to address the unstated...