3 Ways Using Video Tools Benefit Your Practice

Video is more than just a promotion tool.

Has your dental practice made any videos in the past? Do you currently record videos for patients, or does your office have a YouTube channel? Even posting videos on platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, or TikTok can be effective in building an online presence.  

Whether your practice posts videos or not, it is helpful to know the potential impact videos can have on both your dental office and your patients. Understanding the outcomes that may come from creating a few videos is the first step in deciding whether or not to produce some video content, and also deciding whether it is worth it for your office, or not. In this blog post, we are going to cover some of the ways you can use videos as a dental clinic, such as: 

  1. To promote your practice online 
  1. To strengthen patient-provider relationships, even with prospective patients 
  1. To make oral healthcare information such as aftercare instructions more accessible for patients (and the general public) 

Using video for online advertising 

Person opening Youtube on a smartphone

When comparing text-based promotions to video ads, the latter boasts better results. The facts and statistics speak for themselves: using video content is far more effective than text-based content. If your dental practice needs some website content or you are looking to establish an online presence, consider using video.

If your office already uses Google Ads, using YouTube for video content may be a promising choice. YouTube, which is owned by Google, seamlessly integrates with other Google products (such as Google Ads), which can help make your promotion process easier; for example, you can promote videos as an ad if you want to reach more prospective patients and expand your practice.

Using video for strengthening patient-provider relationships 

Patient-provider relationships are one of the main pillars of dentistry, being the driving cause for fostering healthy relationships and keeping patients coming back for routine treatment. Videos offer a chance for you to personify your clinic’s online presence, making it easier to foster patient-provider relationships online by having a positive first impression. 

Videos are one of the more empathetic media forms, giving viewers a chance to emotionally connect with the person on-screen. Moreover, videos can build trust for the viewer, depending on the content. Even if your video does not show a person at all, (e.g. it may only contain text or pictures to explain a concept), video is far more engaging than text or images, allowing viewers to focus on your content for longer. 

Some examples of videos that practices post are: 

  • Virtual office tour – beneficial for prospective patients to learn what your clinic looks like beforehand, and gives you a chance to demonstrate any safety or hygiene precautions your practice may be taking 
  • Post-operative instructions – we will talk more about this in the next section (below) 
  • Announcements – for example, holiday hours or new team members 
  • Team introductions – shows that your office cares about prioritizing patient-provider relationships by offering a good first impression to any prospects 

There are hundreds of potential videos your office could make, depending on the needs you are trying to meet by using this format. 

Using video as a form of teledentistry – making oral health information accessible online 

Dentist on laptop screen

When utilized in certain ways, videos can qualify as telehealth, such as promoting good hygiene habits for patients when out of office, or providing relevant information to your patients. According to RCDSO, sharing a recorded video is a form of asynchronous teledentistry, as long as the material is being used to help evaluate a patient’s condition, or assist in treating a patient outside of a real-time interaction. In other words, sending a patient a video of aftercare instructions counts as teledentistry, which can be a useful tool in ensuring patients follow instructions correctly.  

For more information on teledentistry in Ontario, check out RCDSO’s informational page on the topic. 

Video creation is not as much work as you may think 

The great thing about using video as a medium in 2021 is that the process has become accessible for nearly anyone with a smartphone. Ultimately, video creation does not have to be high-effort or high-cost. Utilizing this medium can be as simple as recording a short video on your smartphone, and either uploading directly or using a cost-effective (or even free) editing tool.  

There are various platforms and tools that your office can use to create and enhance video content, some specifically geared towards people who do not have any video editing experience (e.g. CanvaVimeo, etc.) You can even utilize smartphone applications if you just need to do some simple enhancements to your videos, such as adding text or images to your projects. 

If your office is interested in producing video content for patients and prospective patients, setting up a process with an administrative associate may be required to produce quality videos. For example, few planning steps are always required before jumping into creating video content. As an oral healthcare provider, you may not have time to produce such content with your schedule full of patients. For this reason, we encourage having a pre-established process with team members, or maybe even a group outside of your regular dental team. Perhaps your clinic wants to opt for a few pre-recorded post-operative instructions to send to patients after their oral surgeries. There are various options for all types of practices, it’s just a matter of putting the time into crafting something that can be used time and again. 

Strategies to get patients back in your office for routine appointments

The dental industry has undoubtedly been negatively impacted by the pandemic’s ripple effects worldwide. Oral healthcare was quickly identified as a risk due to the nature of the virus transmission, as well as the use of aerosols in many dental treatments. Dental providers have adapted and implemented many new processes to keep patients and dental teams optimally safe from the virus. 

Despite this, many dental patients have deterred their appointments and treatments (such as restorations, implants, endodontic treatments, etc.) While dentists (in Canada) have reopened for routine treatment a few times, many patients are still only going for emergencies. Articles from multiple sources have discussed whether it is safe to go to dental visits, making groups of people anxious about exposing themselves, even if their provider goes above and beyond in risk-prevention.  

On top of the existing health risks that we are facing, with a rise in misinformation due to various sources referencing different sets of regulations, it’s inevitable that patients are largely confused about visiting dental offices for routine appointments. In this blog post, we will be going over some strategies your office can use to take charge of communication to fill up your chairs once again. 

Ways you can put your patients at ease and generate interest in routine appointments 

1. Make an announcement on your webpage or social media profiles 

Announce on your social media banners, or even your website homepage, that your office is accepting patients for routine appointments. Consider leaving your announcement up for a while (e.g., a few months), or until your practice sees an upturn of patient interest. 

2. Reference reputable organizations 

Along with your webpage or social media update, as mentioned above, you can strengthen your message by referencing groups such as CDC or ODA’s affirmation that dental visits are currently encouraged. Ensuring patient knowledge is one of the starting points towards bringing them back to your office. 

3. Make things as touchless as possible, and let patients know this beforehand 

Look into having touchless payment options (such as credit card, or Interac), and have touchless forms available for your patients to fill out. Patient intake forms, COVID-19 screening forms, health history forms, x-ray forms, and other various treatment consent forms can be digitized to optimize patient and staff safety and comfort. Additionally, informing patients of these features beforehand may encourage them to come in since your office is taking pre-emptive measures to be as safe as possible. 

Features to look for that help keep your chairs full 

1. Automated recall booking systems 

Having a system like this allows your hygienists or reception team to fill your schedule months in advance without scrambling last-minute at the end of an appointment. Intelligent automated recall booking should recognize the interval that a patient is set up for and show availabilities for the given appointment type when they are due.  

2. A treatment manager 

Having a built-in treatment manager helps you know who to contact to fill your schedule. For instance, if people missed their appointments, haven’t come for a few years, or have unfinished dental treatment, treatment managing programs should be able to identify and recommend contacting these patients.  

Putting information online to ease patient concerns, as well as having tools in your office that help you fill your schedule more efficiently are two key methods you can fill up your chairs once again.  

Guiding Your Patients: How To Minimize Disinformation From Online Sources

One of the crucial roles of a healthcare provider is to ensure patient understanding, whether by dissipating false information for patients, or educating and explaining topics to patients. As of 2021, we are growing increasingly reliant on social media platforms and various websites for our social interactions, news consumption, and other major facets of our lives. While our growing connectedness via the Internet fosters an age of understanding, there are also more opportunities for spreading disinformation. Some statistics, tricks, tips, or other forms of media that may initially be harmless can be altered, or flat-out harmful practices can be shared. Some examples of this include skewed statistics, or “dental DIY” tricks that can cause repercussions.  

A concerning number of patients get their health-related news from scrolling through social media. Based on findings from Referral MD, 90% of surveyed individuals between the ages of 18 – 24 indicated they trust health information shared on social media platforms.  

COVID-19 has resulted in a lot of misinformation and confused masses. Different municipalities, locations, and sources have varying regulations and protocols, and many people are unsure of what is safe and unsafe anymore. Fortunately, your dental practice’s team can work to minimize confusion in your patients by utilizing emails, social media platforms, and in-person appointments. Keep reading to find out how to utilize these three methods to benefit your patients. 

Opportunities to educate your patient-base: 

1. Emails  

Photo by Torsten Dettlaff on Pexels.com
  • Use emails to your office’s advantage by reminding patients of what they can expect when they come to their appointments. For example, if your waiting area is closed, remind your patients to wait in their car, or be prepared to wait outside. Remind patients of necessary pre-appointment duties, such as filling out a pre-screening form, and wearing a mask. 
  • If your office participates in patient newsletters, consider adding a portion dedicated to sharing accurate information and facts for relevant topics.  
  • Using a messaging software that lets you send automated emails with areas for personalization is a great way to connect to patients on a large scale, while also remaining time efficient. 

2. Social media 

Photo by Cristian Dina on Pexels.com
  • We have touched on the ways you can use social media in previous blogs, such as encouraging healthy habits, and keeping up patient relations during lockdowns. 
  • Using social media prevents can help prevent harmful trends from occurring in your patients, depending on your practice’s following. Keeping on top of “dental DIY” trends and similar patterns can help your practice make relevant social media posts, as well as guide followers, and your patient base, in the right direction. 
  • Ensure that any information you post is appropriate and truthful. This may go without saying, but sometimes, unclear information can be misinterpreted, which can result in further confusion. 
  • Try to keep any posts simple, clear, and most importantly, trustworthy. Getting your information from reputable sources (such as collegiate institutes, trusted healthcare providers, government websites, etc.), or using your own knowledge as a dental professional, are good practices for ensuring you are doing your best to mitigate disinformation. 
  • Share useful information from trusted sources (examples above) as resource hubs for your patients.  

3. Appointments 

  • Encourage your patients to be aware of ongoing dental trends that tend to pop up every few years – for example, at-home whitening, at-home “braces”, etc. In addition to just being aware, patients should also know the dangers associated with participating in these trends, and the damage they could cause to their mouth and overall health. 
  • Be aware that younger patients may feel inclined to try these trends more than older patients, generally. Younger patients may not know these trends are as harmful as they seem. 
  • Answer any questions your patient may have, and if they indicate that they are interested in specific cosmetics (I.e., bleaching treatments), be sure to educate your patients on the dangers of at-home treatments. Any way you can educate your patients about the best practices for continuing their oral hygiene at home is valuable and will help mitigate disinformation. 

3 Tips for Dental Receptionists in 2021

The role of the dental receptionist is a complicated one, and it differs from office-to-office. There are varied job descriptions, tasks, and duties established by each practice. Something consistent, however, is that dental receptionists are always on the “front lines” in a practice. Fielding patient and team inquiries, managing patient issues, and keeping all records organized are just some of the tasks receptionist’s handle. For many prospective patients, receptionists and front-desk workers are the face of the practice.  

In 2019, we wrote about things every dental receptionist needs to know for maximum patient satisfaction, efficiency, and organization. With COVID-19’s implications on the dental industry, we thought it was time to update our list to address current social issues that you may encounter in your practice. In this blog post, we discuss the top three things to know as a dental receptionist in 2021.  

1. Remain adaptable  

Adaptability, even in ordinary circumstances, is a valuable skill in reception. As mentioned in our previous blog on this topic, receptionists are the first to greet patients and the last to see them out. Being such an integral part of the team, front office team members must be able to adapt to new technologies, organization systems, and communication approaches. For instance, many dental practices have adopted digital communications, especially since lockdowns minimized dental appointments. Using texting software to send automated or ad-hoc messages may require an adjustment period but adapting to new (and often more efficient) systems ensures that your office remains ahead of the technological curve.  

Patients can keep you on your toes, especially if they are particularly apprehensive about receiving dental treatment or care, or if they are very thorough and inquisitive. Some patients may require more in-depth responses, or even an approach that you do not normally use. The ability to adjust your approach to different situations is highly valued in this position, as unique individuals can raise issues in your office that can’t always be solved with a generic solution or a solution developed during more normal times.  

2. Look ahead to fill your schedule  

Photo by picjumbo.com on Pexels.com

Under the best of circumstances some patients will look for excuses to avoid proceeding with dental treatment, whether it is for financial concerns, dental anxiety, or other reasons. COVID-19 added another reason for patients to delay their treatments. With all the mixed messages from official and unofficial sources, and changes in guidelines over time, cuments released , many patients are legitimately confused about whether it is safe to visit their dentist for regular appointments, and when they can see their dentists.   

With vaccinations being rolled out worldwide, receptionists are looking ahead. While still taking the necessary precautions such as spreading out the waiting area (or making patients wait outside/in their cars), leaving gaps between appointments, and using paperless forms, receptionists should continue reaching out to patients who need recare appointments. Call lists, email lists, and contact sheets can result in a lot of manual work, especially if the lists are long, and perhaps growing longer. Having a system or tool to help you quickly send many messages at once helps your front-desk team when working to fill the schedule months in advance. For example, ABELDent’s Treatment Manager is built-in to our LS, CS and LS+ software. Whether you use a system is as simple as a customizable email template and manual sent emails, , a more efficient, built-in recall manager, or a third-party application that helps with recall management, such a solution can help to keep you organized and on track during these especially challenging times.    

Looking months ahead helps you in the long-run by having a structured schedule month-by-month, as well as keeping patients’ recare appointments on track for their own health. Scheduling appointments early will help you to uncover patient concerns that can then be addressed in advance to establish patient commitment. Getting patients back on track will be a big job, but booking appointments and dealing with patient concerns early will reduce the likelihood that you will be scrambling at the last minute to fill a providers’ column or day.  

3. Practice professional empathy  

In 2020 and 2021, thes impact of COVID-19 on organizations resulted in large number of layoffs and heightened Canada’s unemployment rate. Financial troubles will undoubtedly reduce the priority of dental treatment for some patients. While there may not be anything your office can do in some of these cases, providing a professional, empathetic tone may make an enormous difference when communicating with upset patients. Professional empathy can be conveyed through word choice, tone of voice, and body language. If you are communicating virtually, using keywords and phrases such as “we understand” can help to diffuse anxiety caused by financial concerns.  

The importance of empathy extends past financial concerns. Ashton College highlights the difference that using empathy has in a difficult situation with a patient or even a team member. Additionally, being able to understand another perspective will aid you when problem-solving, strengthening the quality of patient care.  

These three tips are just a few of many things dental receptionists should know to maximize their office’s potential in 2021. With tools and technologies evolving, the dental industry is getting more efficient while simultaneously becoming more complicated for new hires. Going forward, we look forward to speaking more on this topic and providing content that helps your entire dental team. 

Scaling Back and Preparing for What is Ahead

The end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021 has been a difficult time for everyone with COVID-19 cases steadily rising throughout December and January. With lockdown continuing in various areas, we are turning our focus back to making the most of your practice’s downtime and preparing for the future influx of patients.  

While the first province-wide shutdown did not alter the scope of dental services, Ontario’s current stay-at-home order has resulted in many dental offices scaling back once again to taking in fewer patients than usual.  RCDSO urges dental offices to take additional precautions when providing care to patients. For instance, deferring non-essential appointments to a later date or offering remote appointments for these cases as a precaution to avoid the risk of in-person contact. 

While dental appointments are minimized, there are still opportunities for your team to participate in online training, e-learning, and other important tasks that help maintain your practice. During your office’s downtime, your team can learn how to use your practice management software more efficiently, especially new hires that still need to get used to your software. ABELDent users can use ABELDent Mastery, for example. There are also webinars and online courses you and your team can take to help maintain best practices, and even to earn potential CE credits. 

We have compiled our blog posts throughout the past year as a resource bank for our readers. To read more in-depth about some of our tips for making the most of your office’s downtime, please see our list: 

At ABELDent, we are continuing to support dental professionals by working from home. We are hopeful for the future and are still available 24/7 for any of your dental software needs. 

Why Should You Use Patient-Facing Features in Your Practice?

What is ‘patient-facing’?  

Patient-facing systems are tools that provide patients with the opportunity to actively engage with their healthcare practitioners virtually. The dental industry has been evolving towards patient-facing solutions in recent years by implementing auto-scheduling, downloadable forms, and live chatting functionalities. The demand for these systems and methods have escalated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Practices are incorporating patient-facing solutions because patients can easily interact with dental providers or access resources online. Patient-facing systems are accessible, simple solutions that prove useful for a variety of reasons. For instance, the touchless aspect of online solutions reduces face-to-face interaction and the sharing of paper, pens, or devices, thereby minimizing COVID-19 related health concerns.  

Makes open communication between dentist and patient easier, faster, and more accessible 

Clear communication is a crucial aspect of dentistry. Ensuring patient understanding, as referenced by CDA, results in increased patient satisfaction, increased procedure efficiency, and fewer negative experiences and reviews.  

Patient-facing features provide patients with the opportunity to share information more easily via online resources to learn about their treatment. This also allows patients to actively participate in virtual care. Some examples include patients filling out consent forms prior to treatment, completing health history and COVID-19 screening forms, updating their standing patient form, and prefacing appointments with video consultations. These features ensure patients can gain a deeper understanding of their treatment prior to their physical appointment without having to be physically present in your office. Providing an online format for these tasks rather than in-person is convenient for patients, reduces COVID-19 concerns, and saves your practice a spare operatory. 

Provides a good opportunity for easing anxious patients 

Additional benefits of patient-facing features include the accommodation of safe (touchless), convenient, and fast communication between provider and patient to preface appointments. In addition to quick communication, virtual care allows the use of visuals the same way you would be able to show patients in your operatory how a procedure will go. Screen-sharing capabilities that are included in most video conferencing tools allow this, limiting the setbacks that an online consultation would have in comparison to a physical consultation. 

Pre-treatment appointments can be beneficial for patients who are apprehensive, as you can suggest patient calming techniques, discuss whether nitrous oxide is a viable solution for their needs, or discuss other options that may help to calm anxieties. Doing all this in an online setting benefits your practice and the patient, and helps strengthen the practice-patient relationship. 

Lightens the workload for your team and minimizes chances of manual errors 

Forms that are hard to read, faxed, or scanned to your office, or rushed can often result in team members interpreting information wrong and inserting incorrect information in a patient’s chart. Allowing patients to fill out their forms online eliminates these potential errors on your office’s end. Patients may still make a typo or fill in an area incorrectly, but these errors can easily be fixed in your office by editing the file. Removing the chances of your team members getting information wrong is a step in the right direction towards great recordkeeping. Additionally, allowing patients to submit their forms online allows your team members to be more productive with their time. 

Overall, patient-facing solutions are a great practical tool to have in your office, not just during health crises, but long-term. Many patients and practices, having been introduced to the benefit of these methods, will come to prefer and expect them.  

The various benefits mentioned throughout this blog post are reasons for investing in online solutions, which will prepare your practice for the upcoming decade when virtual care and patient-facing systems will be the norm. 

If you are interested in finding out more about ABELDent’s touchless patient-facing forms, we are available 24/7. Feel free to fill out our contact form below, or give us a call at the phone number mentioned below. 

Resources: 

Jensen, R. E., Gummerson, S. P., & Chung, A. E. (2016). Overview of Patient-Facing Systems in Patient-Reported Outcomes Collection: Focus and Design in Cancer Care. Journal of oncology practice, 12(10), 873–875. https://doi.org/10.1200/JOP.2016.015685 

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.  

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.