3 Simple, Necessary Steps to Take for Data Security

Security professionals, financial advisors, and even government agencies suggest that in 2020, cyberattacks can be more devastating on a business than a natural disaster. If your office faced a cyberattack today, would you have a plan to follow to recover your valuable data? 

As dental software providers, one of our ongoing goals is to ensure dentists keep their practice data safe and secure, regardless of which software they use. Healthcare practitioners, such as dental providers, are always targets for cyberattacks because of each practice’s valuable information and records. While paperless recordkeeping boasts increased security for your practice records, it is crucial to keep in mind that data needs to always be safeguarded from potential threats. In this blog post, we have four simple steps that you can follow to ensure your dental practice’s data is sufficiently secured in the event of a cyberattack. 

Step 1: Keep your software and computers up to date 

Whether you store your dental records on an all-in-one practice management software or you use other options, chances are that the software you use rolls out regular software updates. Our first simple step to data security is keep your software updated. We have discussed the importance of keeping your software up to date in previous blog posts. To summarize, software updates provide users with the latest security to counteract potential threats, which are continually evolving. Additionally, these software updates fix bugs that could potentially lead to unprotected data.  

Along with software updates, ensure your computer platforms and operating systems are regularly updated as well. Updated computers and operating systems incorporate advanced security measures and bug fixes that are necessary to prevent the latest threats. For example, as of January 2020, Microsoft no longer supports outdated platforms such as SQL 2008, Windows Server 2008, and Windows 7. Since these platforms are no longer supported, the software no longer receives security fixes in automated updates, leaving the system vulnerable to viruses, spyware, ransomware, and other malicious threats. Although you may require a periodic investment to keep your system up to date, it is best to always make sure you are using supported versions of the technologies used in your practice.  

Step 2: Maintain proper user credentials 

In addition to keeping up with software updates, make sure your workstations’ passwords are private and strong enough to minimize threats. News stories, statistics, and testimonies can attest to the issues bad passwords can create for a businesses. For instance, 81% of hacking-related security breaches are caused by insufficient passwords. As shown through multiple studies, weak passwords can be the downfall of an entire organization. Not only can an outsider easily access your valuable practice data but, with poor passwords, a team member could access something they are not supposed to. 

How can you strengthen your password security? For starters, if you can, ensure each team member has their own secure login information to eliminate the risk of password-sharing and similar problems. Additionally, ensure all passwords are unique and strong; everyone should avoid using personal information in their passwords, such as their name or birthday, as these could be easy to identify for a potential hacker. General phrases such as “password” should always be avoided. Password specifications vary from source to source, but universally, almost everyone agrees on these general principles: 

  1. Keep your password long (recommendations vary, but generally 8-16 characters) 
  2. Use a mix of capitalized and lower-case letters 
  3. Integrate numbers and symbols into your password 
  4. Ensure passwords are periodically changed 

Lastly, to keep your workstations as secure as possible, passwords should change every few months. The passwords should also not recycle any words or patterns as a precaution. If you or your team members struggle to remember multiple unique passwords, consider using a password manager to keep track of everything. For more tips on how to create a strong password, read this article. 

Step 3: Backup your practice’s data 

Our third simple step for protecting your practice’s valuable data is backing up your data regularly. While you can do everything possible to protect your data in the event of a cyberattack, some things are uncontrollable. For example, natural disasters can cause devastating and irreversible damage to your practice’s servers if they are kept in your office. To ensure your practice data is as secure as possible, look into secure Cloud backups. Doing regular data backups not only prevents significant data loss if a cyberattack struck your office but also ensures your practice’s data is secured off-site. Microsoft Azure is an example of a Cloud solution, and it is the one ABELDent uses for Remote Backup Services. 

By checking off these three simple steps, you are taking the necessary actions towards securing your practice data.  

3 Reasons to Leverage Web Analytics as a Dental Practice

How well is your website contributing to your practice goals? Is there someone in your practice gathering information and taking action to improve your web presence? Who in your office has time to check data analytics? How would it benefit your dental practice? 

While there is a learning curve associated with navigating web analytics software, using this such a measurement tool can be very worthwhile for your practice. Once someone in your practice understands the basics of navigating and interpreting the information shown, you can make your marketing strategies and SEO more efficient and cost-effective. 

Web analysis software measures various aspects of your website, such as the number of unique visitors, pages within a website that are popular, and the length of time a visitor spends on a page. Analysis software also often collects data via cookies to form demographic reports about website visitors.  

Office administrators, dentists, or delegated team members can do regular upkeep on website data by using tools such as Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a popular choice because it is free. There are various alternatives to Google Analytics, as well. Once someone knows how to navigate and interpret the information that the data analysis tool collects, it can be a very efficient and worthwhile process for improving the impact of your online presence. Streamlining web keywords and SEO can save your office time when deciphering the presented data. 

If you are interested in using web and data analysis to position your practice for growth, read below to find out three compelling reasons for using these systems in your office. 

1. Pinpoint your prospective patients 

Having web analysis software attached to your website can help you learn more about who is visiting your website. Google Analytics, for instance, gathers demographic information about visitors on your website. In reports, you find out the age, gender, and interests of your visitors. Knowing who visits your website can help you understand where your practice is positioned online, and if you are marketing to your desired demographic.  

2. Have better plans for marketing your practice online 

Understanding which media are effective for your practice allows you to get the most value out of your advertising budget. Analytics software displays detailed reports of how people arrive at your website, how long they stay on a certain webpage, and whether visitors clicked specific buttons on your webpages. Understanding how you acquire website views signals the methods that are effective for your practice. For instance, if you get a lot of direct traffic (meaning people insert your website into their web browser on their own), your print media and other resources are likely effective at directing people to your page. If you acquire a lot of visitors from search engines, however, it may signal that using sponsored ads such as Google AdWords is more effective for your practice. 

Analytics software also allows you to see the breakdown of devices used to view your website. If your website displays strangely on mobile, and majority of your visitors are on your website from a mobile device, you may need to plan to revisit your web design. Seeing how long visitors stay on your webpage also tells a lot about how effective your design is and signals what visitors want to learn from your website by which webpages are most visited.  

3. Web analytics help you evaluate your practice’s online performance 

When you are conducting an evaluation on your practice via SWOT analysisPMBO, or another method, your website’s metrics are a great indicator of how your online presence is doing. Interpreting certain patterns in website visitors can suggest where your strengths and weaknesses are in terms of marketing your practice online. This can also provide useful insight into the techniques your practice utilizes the best from a business perspective. Lastly, the ability to catalogue and document this information into reports is an especially useful tool when measuring online growth and ad efficiency. Spending some time learning data analytics can help your practice if you are looking to get more out of online marketing. 

3 Ways Efficient Dentists Lead Their Practice

Leadership is one of the main cornerstones of a healthy organization. Many dentists own and operate their own dentistry practice, but some offices work as a conglomerate. Whether you are an office manager or a practicing dentist, knowing what to do as a practice leader will strengthen your team. This blog post delves into three ways to harness your leadership skills to promote and maintain an efficient dental practice. 

1. Foster a healthy workplace culture from the top-down 

Your practice’s workplace culture defines how your team members feel while working in your office, and by extension, how they behave. For instance, if they are too comfortable, team members may sometimes forget to maintain their professionalism in the office. If staff are uncomfortable in the work environment, however, they may behave rigidly or nervously, also negatively impacting their performance, and by extension, the quality of service given to your patients. Additionally, team members working in a thriving environment contribute to the office’s culture, often harmonizing with other team members.  

Fostering a healthy workplace culture is vital for maintaining a thriving dental team. Some pointers to take into consideration include: 

  • Make sure your practice’s mission statement is made clear to new hires from the very beginning. 
  • Encourage the behaviours you want to see in your office by setting an example. Employees tend to mirror what they see in the workplace. 
  • Reward team members and hold them accountable – providing constructive criticism as feedback maintains a safe work environment and provides room for growth for the team member. Remember to be fair and consistent when giving feedback. 
  • Be proactive with feedback, whether it is positive or negative. Providing no feedback may make existing problems larger in the long run and result in team members feeling unappreciated. 

2. Prepare your staff with problem-solving skills

As a practice leader, you are one of the people who decide how your office handles problems and how to mitigate problems. One aspect of preparedness is making sure your team members know the correct protocol when handling difficult situations or individuals. Educate your team members on what they should do or say if they encounter a problem with a patient, visitor, or co-worker. Guide your team members on the correct protocol for these issues. Preparing your team to face these situations with confidence dissolves tension when the time comes and may help prevent problems entirely.

While you can prepare your team as best as you can, there will always be a chance for unforeseeable problems to come up. While you won’t anticipate every issue that may occur, you can still prepare your team with diverse problem-solving skills, which are crucial when facing an unanticipated situation.

3. Provide resources and opportunities for learning 

Dental offices are symbiotic; the office’s front and back need to work in harmony to be efficient. Before this can happen, team members need to learn the best practices for the tasks associated with their roles. Aside from putting care into an initial training program for new hires, some other ways you can provide resources for your team include: 

  • Registering for CE courses as a group throughout the year 
  • Attending dental conferences (including virtual trade shows) – these shows have valuable educational material and CE courses for your team. 
  • If you recently updated or transferred a software or system in your practice, set aside some time for training the whole team on the new workflows. 
  • Sometimes, team members may need reminders on how to use equipment or software properly. For example, if someone regularly forgets to use a built-in charting system favoring leaving detailed notes, they likely need a reminder. Ongoing education is almost always required in the workplace. 

By providing the resources for your team’s ongoing learning, you set your team, and by extension, your practice up for success. Ensuring everyone in your practice is implementing best practices is a surefire way to maintain a team-centric attitude and foster office motivation. 

4 Reasons for Attending Dental Conventions

Dental conferences and trade shows are among the longest-standing traditions in the industry. Dental professionals, stakeholders, exhibitors, and various other guests attend conferences and trade shows commonly held in convention centres or hotels.  

The reasons for attending are different for everyone; some attendees may go for the continuing education (CE) courses; some want to expand their professional network, some for the social opportunities, while others may want to go for the experience. Depending on the location, these conventions often attract dental professionals from all over the world and foster connections between people associated with the industry. 

This year, several trade shows and conferences are being taken online due to health and safety measures. This unique format has been used in the last few months to facilitate connections while also prioritizing social distancing and public health. ADA’s Florida Dental Conference, for instance, is operating virtually this year. While this format eliminates the aspect of travelling to a new place, having a virtual conference creates an opportunity for attendees that otherwise may not have been able or willing to attend a physical exhibition. Additionally, scientists have found that in many cases, virtual conferences allow for better experiences for attendees and stakeholders due to more control for moderated discussions, more attendees, reduced carbon emissions, and lower travel expenses.  

This week’s blog outlines five reasons to attend dental conferences and trade shows, whether virtual or physical.  

1. Opportunity for CE credits 

As a known requirement for dental professionals, continuing education credits are often available from educational sessions or modules at conferences or trade shows. If you are looking for potential CE credits, be sure to do research on the sessions you sign up for to see if they are offered with the module.  

2. Outside insights & networking

Attending trade shows and connecting with new individuals allows you to learn about how other industry practices operate, which is useful in comparing your differences. Comparing your current practice’s business model with other dentists in the community is a great starting point when conducting a SWOT analysis of your practice. You can also learn why other professionals in the field may favour certain technologies or methods over others, providing you with a new perspective and ongoing appreciation of the industry. 

In addition to gaining outside perspectives, attending virtual and physical conferences provides an opportunity for networking with other professionals in the field. Along with meeting new people, new opportunities arise for potential practice changes, partnerships, retirement plans, and other chances to improve your practice in ways you may not have thought of before.  

3. Go for the experience

If you haven’t been to a conference in any capacity, attending one for your first time may not be what you expect. While physical trade shows in the past have been quite busy, with many having thousands of visitors, virtual conferences are a new ballpark. Despite this, there are still many reasons to attend an online trade show. For example, many vendors you may have inquiries for are set up for easy access with minimal wait times. Often, you may have an opportunity to privately message or reach out to a speaker that you have questions for. Lastly, if you missed a specific session or livestream, there are usually recordings (especially for sessions that you register for), whereas at a physical conference or trade show recordings may be limited. Of course, attending a physical trade show can be an exciting experience for the first time, to say the least. There are countless things to do, many vendors to talk to, and hundreds of potential new connections.  

4. Learn what is new in the ever-changing field of dentistry. 

The exhibit hall is a world of opportunity for conference attendees. Perhaps there has been a technology or vendor you have been interested in incorporating into your practice prior to attending the show. Whether virtual or physical, attending a conference is a great opportunity to talk to the companies that you think are interesting and may benefit your practice. There may be special pricing or additional benefits by seeking vendors out at these shows. Interactions with vendors at their booths tend to be more valuable, personal, and informative by giving you the chance to ask anything you may be wondering about the vendor.

3 Reasons You Should Keep Your Software Up To Date

In a Pew Research Center study on Americans and cybersecurity, roughly one out of ten people do not update their smartphone software at all. While ignoring software updates poses a major risk to the individual user’s security, a staggering number of people still choose to stay with the older version of the software. Why is this the case? 

Patrick Boblin writes on this issue in an article regarding the reasons people avoid updating their computers. Some of the reasons Boblin lists include compatibility issues, having a bad prior experience, and being comfortable with the way their system currently runs. One specific reason that stands out is that people don’t understand why they need to update their systems so frequently, and as a result, have less security. 

The reasons Boblin brings up go beyond computer or smartphone updates. Many users ignore software updates, especially if they seem tedious, or the changes are not adequately explained. In today’s blog, we want to emphasize the importance of keeping your software up to date, especially the software you use for your dental practice. 

Security 

First and foremost, software updates are created to maximize the user’s security. Technologies are always changing and unfortunately, so are viruses and other threats to your system. To stay up to date on the best security, it is crucial to update the latest version of any software you are using to keep your information protected. These updates provide the best possible defense systems to prevent cyber-attacks before they become a problem for your practice. 

Bug prevention and elimination

When software updates are published, the new version usually accounts for bugs that have been reported by users. Even if you or your team has not experienced any of the corrected bugs, updating to the latest version of the software eliminates the chances of that bug happening to you in the future. And if you have experienced one or more of the bugs, there is no need to continue to live with and negative impact. Updating your software frequently prevents both ongoing and potential frustration that can be the result of software issues.   

It’s best practice 

Making the most of your dental software’s capabilities is the best practice for your team and your patients. Continually updating to the most recent version prevents errors, maximizes your software’s capabilities, and simplifies your team’s workflow. Downloading the latest updates also means you are taking full advantage of your dental software and getting the full value out of the product that you use every day. 

Essentially, your software is continually updated to provide you with the best possible product to make your daily tasks more efficient and secure. It is beneficial to keep up to date on the latest developments for your security, as well as ease-of-use, whether it is your smartphone’s operating system or your dental practice’s scheduler. 

Video Tutorial: Securely Send Touchless Health History Forms to Patients

This week, we have a new tutorial showcasing one of ABELDent’s newer features.  

Much like our previous video, our new tutorial shows you a new ABELDent CS/LS+ feature that allows you to send touch-free health history forms to patients. Not only does this easy feature help your practice save paper for hundreds of patients, but it also saves time. Once the patient finishes their health history form, they can submit the form which goes directly into their electronic patient chart. Your team does not need to manually insert patient information, which is a downside of using paper charts along with electronic health charts. 

The importance of protected health information 

When your patient receives the email you just sent, they are linked to a webpage that allows them to safely and securely insert their health history information on the form. The link that the patient receives is a one-time use link only, meaning it breaks after its first use. This ensures that your patient’s information is being delivered directly to their chart from the webpage efficiently and securely. 

Additional benefits of online health history forms 

Dental offices moving away from paper-based forms may have patients use tablets or similar devices in the waiting room. Online health history forms allow to patients to fill out the forms anywhere on their smartphone or Internet-enables device.  This minimizes delays in the waiting room and eliminates the risk of having your devices dropped, broken, stolen, or tampered with.  Additionally, online health history forms speed up the practice workflows by automatically entering the information in patient charts.   

Video summary: 

Here are the steps that are outlined in our video tutorial.  

  1. Navigate to the patient’s clinical sidebar
  1. Click the email icon to send an email under “health history” in the clinical sidebar. 
  1. Edit or adjust the text if needed. When you’re ready to go, click “send”. 

We hope you find our new tutorial helpful for learning these new features. We look forward to providing more tutorials and walkthroughs in the coming months.  

4 Tips for Managing Stress as a Dental Provider

September is a time of year full of changes, some of which can be a source of stress for you or your family members as kids go back to school and families transition into new routines that can add uncertainty and stress at the best of times.   

This year, COVID-19 is creating uncertainty and changes in routine. The added stressors on top of your usual workload, as well as the additional precautions that your practice is taking due to the pandemic can add up, leading to eventual burnout. This week, we want to provide some resources for caring for your own health as a dental provider and managing ongoing stress during this busy time.  

Running a dental practice can be stressful on its own, moreso with many providers spending long hours with patients while also responsible for managing new challenges for the practice. The high-stakes environment can also be a source of stress.   

While COVID-19 forces the dental practice to face new challenges, this period may result in changes that eventually lead to an improved practice.  While short term social distancing regulations result in lower patient traffic and reduced income for your practice, it could also encourage adoption of new workflows and automation that, for example, improve patient communication while allowing team members to focus on more productive activities. 

 If your workday prior to the pandemic did not accommodate necessary breaks, a lower patient load may be an opportunity to rethink practices workflows and provide time to try new things.  This brings us to our first point, which is: 

1. Find a balance that works for you 

Each practice has its own priorities, routines, and workflows. Some ideas for stress reduction may not be viable for your office. Determining whether an idea fits your personal and practice objectives is an essential factor in whether you will see it through and achieve the desired results. In addition to finding solutions that work for your practice, it is important to find the right balance for your time in and outside of the office. Making time in your day in between appointments to eat, replenish, and rest not only maintains your wellness but also may result in better-quality care given.   

2. Make time for movement 

While it may seem like you are running around a lot during the day between operatories, the average dental professional’s day is usually more sedentary than one might think. Along with making time for necessary breaks during the day, making sure you are stretching, moving, or getting some form of exercise will help improve your wellbeing while simultaneously minimizing stress.  

3. When in doubt, reach out 

If you are finding that it’s hard to keep your stress levels under control, there are many services that you can take advantage of, especially with the movement to online meetings and telehealth. Setting up an appointment with a counselor, doctor, life coach or even just a friend can help you with establishing habits that minimize stress levels. There is nothing to lose by looking for a different perspective, and it may provide a sense of relief. 

4. A team is more than a group of individuals

While everyone on your team may experience challenges in new priorities and routines, all team members may not be impacted to the same degree.  There may be opportunities to temporarily shift responsibilities between team members in order to make the most of the varying skills and capacity of all team members.  In some cases, these changes may uncover new capabilities and help to unlock hidden potential in your practice.  If the new challenges and priorities are shared with team members, you may find solutions that allow everyone to be their best.          

How to Send Hands-Free Questionnaires to Your Patients in Seconds

The spread of COVID-19 in late 2019 and early 2020 caused us to adapt to new ways of working with each other. While Ontario is now in phase three of reopening various businesses and organizations, it is apparent that we are going to keep some changes permanently going forward. A change that we have already embraced prior to the outbreak is hands-free technology. To counteract public health risks, people have developed newer technologies that favour touch-free environments; for instance, digitized paperwork and patient charts. 

Worldwide, dentists have accommodated the necessary new changes that maintain social distancing in practice. Although many dental offices have already moved to a paperless-based practice, multiple still retain some physical documents such as intake forms for compliance with proper dental recordkeeping.  

Whether your practice is fully paperless or not, pre-screening can take up a significant amount of time over the phone or in-person. ABELDent’s new feature gives providers the option to send COVID-19 pre-screening forms to patients before they even step foot in the clinic, saving your team time and preventing paper forms.

This feature maintains your patients’ private health information (PHI), which must be encrypted when sent via emails. The pre-screening survey sends a one-time link that your patients can fill out prior to their appointment either at home, or right outside your office before entering. The information is automatically updated in the electronic chart, saving time and effort for your team. 

If you want to learn more about this new feature, we hope you check out our new video. Our overview goes through the basics of sending quick pre-screening surveys, and how you can customize the message to fit your office’s needs. As always, we hope you enjoy the video. 

Mental Health’s Relationship to Oral Health

How do mental health and oral health influence one another?  

In today’s blog, we explore the connection that oral health and mental health have with one another and provide some resources that provide further insight into the relationship between the two. This blog references various studies from multiple researchers and serves only to be a general outline.   

Patients living with mental illnesses or other conditions may experience symptoms that may put these individuals’ oral health at risk. A portion of these individuals also experience barriers in acquiring oral healthcare, such as unresolved dental anxiety and unemployment. Various connections with either symptoms of the illness itself or the prescribed medications that a patient may take can influence their oral health and their experience in the operatory. Dr. Kevin McCann’s in-depth article from 2012 goes over common mental illnesses that patients may have and the effects that regular medications have on their bodies, and by extension, their oral health. For instance, McCann points out that individuals taking antidepressants have an increased chance of complications with vasoconstrictors in local anesthesia, particularly in patients with additional underlying medical conditions. Another example is the involuntary muscle movements that affect patients taking antipsychotic medications. These muscle movements may sometimes be noticeable in the operatory chair.  

Other issues that link mental health with oral health are symptoms that make oral hygiene upkeep difficult. Some symptoms of untreated mental illnesses may result in a lack of oral hygiene (e.g., depression). Alternatively, some conditions may cause individuals to perform unhealthy hygiene habits, such as vigorous brushing. Various medications for many mental illnesses are also known to have side effects such as dry mouth or bruxism.   

McCann’s article ends on a holistic note, reminding providers that taking a nonjudgmental approach to obtaining any patient’s health history is crucial. Edwin T. Parks and Cindy Marek provide a comprehensive guide to effectively communicating and working with patients who have mental health issues. Due to the stigma that mental illnesses have had in the past, patients may not share their whole health history with providers, especially if they are not aware that their oral health is affected by their mental health. Parks and Marek explain:  

“An effective way to open discussion when the dentist suspects that the patient has a psychological disorder is to mention a physical finding that may relate to the disorder. For example, because some medications for psychological disorders cause dry mouth, a nonjudgmental, nonthreatening question such as “I notice that your mouth seems much drier than usual. Have there been any changes in your health that could account for this change?” may open a discussion in which the relationship between physical findings and psychological status can be described” (Parks and Marek 2007).  

Parks, E. T., & Marek, C. (2007). Managing the Patient With Psychological Problems. In Treatment Planning in Dentistry (pp. 367-389).

Asking questions directly pertaining to oral health may help patients feel inclined to share any information that they may have initially held back. Making sure your patients are fully aware of how their oral health is impacted, and what they can do to maintain healthy habits is crucial.  

Each patient has different needs, but in general, applying the same empathetic approach to all patients will help motivate your patients to maintain good oral hygiene in between dental appointments. Many resources indicate that listening to patients, having a kind demeanor, and using social skills also does more to help patients with mental illnesses get through their appointments, which to many, may be a source of stress.   

References  

  • Parks, E. T., & Marek, C. (2007). Managing the Patient With Psychological Problems. In Treatment Planning in Dentistry (pp. 367-389). Elsevier. https://doi.org/10.1016/b978-0-323-03697-9.50018-1  
  • McCann, KJ. (2012). Assessment and management of dental patients with mental health issues. Oral Health. 2012:102(6)25-32.   

Do You Use Social Media to Encourage Ongoing Healthy Habits for Patients?

Some, maybe even most individuals that come to your office are very motivated when it comes to keeping up their oral hygiene routine. For most offices, however, there are a few patients that struggle to allocate time for the necessary hygiene practices that prevent oral disease. Can you do more to ensure your patients are sticking to proper oral health habits in-between visits? In this week’s blog, we are going over some approaches that your office can take that may help prevent your patients from falling back into old habits.  

In comparison to other countries, Canada has great dental care and limited individuals with oral disease. CDA’s status report of Canada’s oral health recognizes the country’s relatively good oral healthcare, particularly when viewed on a global scale. They state in the report that “based on a wide range of metrics, we can state definitively that Canada is among the world leaders when it comes to the overall oral health of its citizens.” The report also acknowledges, though, that there are some groups of people in Canada that suffer from poor oral health due to barriers such as physical, socioeconomic, and geographical restraints. 

Ensuring your patients are going home with knowledge of proper hygiene upkeep is a crucial part of recall visits, but unfortunately, patients tend to fall back into old habits after a few weeks. Thankfully, there are certain approaches your office can take to counteract this issue and encourage patients to continue their oral hygiene regimens at home.

Prioritize the provider-patient relationship

Having a positive experience at your office is a large factor that contributes to your patients’ at-home care, especially those with anxieties surrounding dental care or healthcare in general. Having a good experience establishes trust with your patients and motivates your patients to continue oral hygiene habits at home. The dentist-patient relationship is defined in this article as “the core of dentistry” (Bishop 2018). Generally, patients are more likely to remember instructions and advice given to them from someone they have a positive relationship with and can relate to on an interpersonal level. The best way to leave a lasting impression on your patients is by showing compassion and maintaining professionalism. Soft social skills make a world of difference when it comes to the patient’s experience. A positive experience at your office will motivate patients to continue proper hygiene at home. 

Encourage healthy habits through your online presence

We have spoken before about the benefits of running a social media page for your practice. Even if your practice has a small following online, posting some generalized oral hygiene tips on your social media page (i.e. Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook) has the chance of making a difference, even it is small. Additionally, using your platform to debunk and discourage “DIY trends” that are harmful for patients may prevent your audience from trying at-home remedies that cause harm to their oral health. 

While social media usage can provide many opportunities for your practice, you must follow the guidelines of professionality to stay in accordance with the associations in your area. RCDSO, for instance, provides an advisory for maintaining dental professionality on social media and offers some insight on best practices for social media use. Whether you are regularly updating your social media outlets, or sporadically posting, your office is still reinforcing good oral hygiene habits for your patients in a virtual and casual fashion. 

While using the approaches mentioned in this blog may help patients become more enthusiastic about their oral health, they may also just serve as regular best practices for your office. Whether or not your patients are influenced by your potential social media usage or nonjudgmental listening, these approaches still work for the betterment of your office. Patient care is the most important, and while dental offices transition towards a post-COVID-19 future, these approaches may not be a priority if your practice is not ready to utilize specific online tools. Prioritizing the provider-patient relationship is prevalent whether you utilize social media or not, as doing this is viable for most appointments and social skills can always be refined.