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.  

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.

How Patient Alerts Simplify Your Day

Running a dental practice is far from formulaic. Patient needs vary from person to person, which sometimes presents barriers. Language barriers, for example, are common issues that dental teams need to address for a portion of patients. Ensuring that you have the necessary tools and resources to communicate with your patients effectively is crucial. Having solutions prepared ahead of time limits stress for both parties and allows for a more rewarding experience for both your team and your patients.  

The reality of running a dental practice is that individual needs must be addressed by the team. Some patients require certain settings or protocols that other patients might not need. With many patients coming in per day, it is important to have a quick and obvious identifier for any patients that have specific needs for the team to prepare for.  

Our new video shows you how your office can use one of our newer features, ‘patient alerts’ to bring these special needs to your attention. Patient alerts show symbols that indicate a patient’s specific condition or need. Your team can quickly glance at the screen and identify existing conditions or special issues that require more hands, extra attention, or additional prep time.  

The video also demonstrates how you can add in patient alerts for patients who may have developed a special condition, for example, an allergy, or a medical condition. Another example that shows this tool’s practicality is if your practice treats a patient who is very anxious or apprehensive, you can add a note in their patient record which can quickly be viewed by hovering over the symbol that you added to their chart. This way, when anyone on your team notices that the patient has an assistance symbol, the team member can quickly adjust to fit the patient’s needs, rather than going into a situation blindly. 

As always, we hope you enjoy our video about patient alerts. We look forward to continually providing you with valuable information to help you better use ABELDent’s features. If you have any questions or would like us to make a tutorial about a specific topic, please let us know.  

Getting Back on Your Feet: Optimize Review Management Software for Effortless Feedback

In March 2020, popular review websites, including Google and Yelp, temporarily disabled business reviews to avoid misconceptions and bad reviews due to COVID-19 spreading in North America. While this measure did not last long, it reinforced the impact that public reviews have on small businesses such as dental practices. 

We have discussed the prevalence of reviews for dental practices before. Online reviews and public ratings of your practice are a significant factor for appealing to prospective patients. Learning about your patients’ perspectives also help your team improve their social skills and treatment quality by providing an opportunity for more empathy and understanding, which, in turn, may alleviate patient anxieties. On top of using reviews to improve patient experiences, reviews are an excellent resource when establishing your practice’s KPIs. Understanding patient perceptions can often be just as insightful as numerical data.  

Reviews are just as important as ever, but dental providers and their teams do not have much time to focus on reputation management. Catching up on dental treatments has taken the forefront for thousands of offices where patients are months behind their due dates for hygiene, restorations, and various other procedures. Having a review management system in place works in the background while your team focuses on providing outstanding treatment. Having a review manager is generally simple to maintain, especially if incorporated directly into your practice management software.  

How does review management software work? 

There are different processes for different review management systems. Typically, emails or texts prompt patients to select a pre-made rating (for instance, a thumbs up/thumbs down option) or ask patients to click a button, leading them to a web page where they can leave their review. Webpage reviews allow for more in-depth reviews but may result in fewer responses. 

Once you have your software set up to fit your office’s unique needs, you can send a follow-up email or text message to patients that you have treated on a specific day. Sending same-day emails and texts is typically the best course of action because the experience is still fresh in your patient’s mind. The email messages invite patients to navigate to a page where they can rate their experience at your clinic. 

Positive reviews result in encouragement to post online, such as to Google Business or Yelp. Negative or neutral feedback encourages the patient to reach out to your office by leaving a comment or calling your office instead of posting a harsh review. Your team can personally reach out to any ratings that are not positive, allowing the patient to feel heard. Personalized responses to bad reviews also provide an excellent opportunity to evaluate which aspects your practice may require improvement.  

If you are interested in ABELDent’s review management software, feel free to reach out to get in control of your practice’s online reputation.  

How to use Microsoft Teams in Your Dental Practice

Dental professionals have remained flexible, adaptable, and innovative in recent months in the wake of a global health crisis. Many offices have opted for virtual conferencing to maintain communications with their patients, while others have utilized social media and their website to facilitate conversations via the web.

Dental practices have demonstrated the power of remaining adaptable in the healthcare industry. Although routine appointments have been interrupted, important business functions have had a chance to take the forefront. Some of these functions include updating the team’s training, switching practice management systems, treatment planning with patients, and organizing the practice’s finances.

 While dental offices are reopening, it is important to remember that the tools that you have learned to use during this time can still benefit your practice daily. Virtual conferencing is a useful tool when patients are unwell, presenting certain symptoms, or live far away from your office. Having your team post on social media every now and then helps maintain your office’s presence on the web and helps you by bringing more prospective patients in.  

If your office has not utilized any virtual conferencing applications, we have created a walkthrough for you detailing how to download and use Microsoft Teams. Applications such as Teams help you continually provide care to your patients via Teledentistry. Microsoft offers a free version of their application which you can use in your practice to virtually connect with your patients as your office adopts a new level of normalcy.   

We hope you enjoy the video. If you have any questions, concerns, or feedback, please email us, message us, or give us a call.

Communicate With Your Patient Base Effectively as Ontario Reopens

Last week, we spoke about the challenges associated with reopening your practice, including limited PPE, spacing apart appointments which result in delays, and new changes that are necessary, such as removing toys or magazines from your waiting room.

There is a lot to do when it comes to reopening, and communicating your details with your patients is a large part of the process. Being open with your patients also creates a transparent line of communication, helping to alleviate anxieties patients may have about coming to your office while COVID-19 still remains an issue. This week we are outlining some measures and best practices you can do to keep the line of communication with your patients open, and how to send bulk messages efficiently.

There are various tools and methods that can be used to efficiently communicate with your patient base, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Some popular methods you may consider using (or may have already used in the past) are manually sending letters to patient addresses, putting in extra hours to phone patients, or conducting mass email communication by sending automated messages to hundreds or thousands of patients at a time. While putting together letters to send to patients’ home addresses provides a personalized and old-school presence that many patients may appreciate, it takes excessive hours of labour, and also may be costly depending on the number of patients your office has. 

Phoning each individual patient, much like sending letters, provides a personal connection which can strengthen your patient-to-office relationship. Doing this may be ineffective, however, for the following reasons:

  • Many mobile users have not set up their voicemail inbox
  • Overall decrease in mobile users checking their voicemail inbox. CBS, in 2013, cites 33% of people listen to voicemails from businesses, and only 18% listen to voicemails from unknown callers
  • Patients who have not come for a long time may have outdated phone numbers

While sending automated emails may lack the personal touch of a letter or phone call, messages can be customized to appear personable and friendly in tone. The important part is that emails send vital information to large numbers of people efficiently. It is very likely that most dental offices will opt for emailing their patients their reopening policies, as it is a trusted form of communication for many patients. Just like the case for mobile calls, however, it is important to routinely verify that your patient contact information is updated to minimize errors in sending.

While there are drawbacks associated with any form of mass communication, there are times that it is necessary for your office. Ensuring that your office records have updated contact information for patients minimizes the margin of error when sending out messages to your patient base. This can be done by routinely verifying contact information with the patient when they have appointments with your office. 

Another point to address is the use of virtual communications to consult with patients prior to your opening. Patients will naturally have questions regarding your office’s plans and processes regarding reopening and performing treatments. Microsoft offers a free version of Teams businesses and families. You can utilize tools like this to facilitate meetings, and also keep recordings of the meeting for your files. We are working on making a video outlining the basics of Microsoft Teams for patient virtual care, so keep an eye out.

3 Reasons an Oral Health Blog Boosts Your Practice

Health professionals are preparing to reopen to the public, presenting an excellent opportunity for creating informational materials. As you reopen your practice, educating patients on the measures you and your team are taking to ensure everyone’s safety will encourage your patients to come in, as well as dismiss any misinformation that they may have regarding their safety. Making information readily available via social media, your website, a company blog, or even flyers and handouts benefits both your practice and your community. This blog post focuses on the reasons for having a dental blog for your office.

Valuable patient treatment is not limited to work done inside of the operatory. Providing regular and digestible resources for your patients to improve their health literacy improves their wellbeing. Having an understanding of their own oral health generally makes patients more enthusiastic about their oral hygiene and necessary dental treatments. This naturally leads to increased patient influx due to word-of-mouth, as well in more recent times, good practice reviews. 

While it is important to continue accumulating positive patient reviews by providing exceptional service, posting expert blogs builds practice credibility while contributing to your practice’s online presence. Great blog posts in turn also foster more positive reviews that together drive more patients to your practice. Maintaining positive reviews is one of the many reasons for having an office blog. For this post, we will present three specific ways that maintaining a blog can boost your business. 

1. It influences how prospective patients perceive your practice 

Instead of first visiting physical locations, people these days tend to screen businesses online beforehand. Potential patients may be curious about your office’s values, the treatment that is offered, and your quality of service. Prospective patients often refer to public reviews and your homepage first for this information. Unfortunately, several bad reviews can turn potential candidates off if even if they may not appear credible. However, if you provide a blog, you can present your business values on your own terms. Providing regular blog posts adds value to your online presence and works to build trust with your audience. Potential patients can read your own content, which is highly preferred in comparison to reading medium-to-low rated reviews that are beyond your control.

2. It educates your patients and the public 

When people experience dental pain, they are likely to research their symptoms online to determine whether their issue is temporary, or if they need to seek professional help. You can increase your page views to these people by properly geotagging (adding geographical identification to) your posts, implementing SEO strategies and using key words as identifiers in your post. These strategies and tools are usually included with most major blogging platforms such as WordPress or Blogger. Blogs of this type expand your public domain since they will attract both individuals researching the symptoms of their dental discomfort, and folks who are reading your posts as they are seeking out a new dentist.  

Blog posts that educate the public on good oral health habits remind individuals of the importance of maintaining a healthy mouth and potentially prompt them to do something about it. A blog that educates the public not only contributes to a healthier community that values their oral health but can also be an effective source of new patients for your practice.  

3. It shows that you care – and helps you gain patient loyalty 

person on phone texting gif

Your dental practice’s blog can subtly and over time, work to reduce no-shows and missed appointments. Regular blog posts, especially if they are sent to patients on a subscription list, create a new conduit of communication for your patients. This open stream fosters patient trust towards you and your staff and helps build credibility for your practice.  The trust formed from these blog posts builds patient loyalty that will likely translate into more booked appointments and fewer cancellations and no-shows. 

While blog posts can present this opportunity, be mindful that your patients likely receive a lot of emails per day and many may end up in their junk mail folder never to be read. As a result, they may not even see your blog posts unless they go to your website on their own..  

A strategy to combat this problem is to inform your patients of your blogs on a regular basis and what valuable information they offer. For example, try embedding a blog link in your automated appointment or outstanding treatment reminders. Additionally, you could post a sign in the reception area encouraging patients to look at your website and blog. Lastly, make sure you provide a blog link directly from your homepage so that visitors to your website can easily find your blogs. 

It may seem overwhelming – but you’re not alone 

There are many resources that are made to help you and your practice have a great online presence starting with this guide. For practical advice for starting or maintaining a dental blog check out this article.  

Even just sharing and briefly adding to posts from other authors is helpful for company blog upkeep.* For instance, Colgate’s blog covers a variety of topics pertaining to oral health with information that may be highly beneficial to your patients. Making information like easily available to your patients encourages healthy oral practices.

If the commitment of posting your own blogs regularly scares you here are some suggestions: 

  • Consider starting by writing a few posts over a few months and then evaluate your engagement 
  • Share posts or articles written by oral health experts as mentioned, but add more value by summarizing the main points so your patients can easily understand the premise 
  • Delegate blog posts to a trusted person in your office with dental expertise and/or find a team member who has strong communication skills.  
  • Do an email promotion of the posts to your patients that have given you permission for email marketing.*  

Whether it is a weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or quarterly blog post, having an oral health blog can greatly benefit your dental practice by increasing the number of positive reviews you receive, establishing your credibility in the marketplace and improving your overall patient relations. 

* Note: be sure to always give credit to the original author. 
* Note: be sure that you are acting with CASL’s protocols 

Virtual Tools to Keep Up Patient Relations

The last few months have marked a period of adjustment worldwide. Some industries are adapting to the circumstances by finding ways to work remotely and limiting social contact. Many professions, like dentistry, share a very different story, wherein most work cannot be done as it requires physical contact. While attending to dental emergencies are essential, how are dentists extending oral care guidance to their other patients? 

Dentists are employing virtual tools to facilitate conversations with patients. Virtual connections allow dental providers to continually help patients. This is the main defining factor of teledentistry, which we have spoken about in the last few blog posts (found here and here). Teledentistry includes treatment planning, video conferencing, and even telephone calls that entail a dental provider performing any kind of virtual treatment, for example, giving follow-up instructions. Various studies have been done on the validity of teledentistry. These studies are highly prevalent at a time like this, as they offer the industry a perspective on how using virtual treatment tools can objectively help dental practices and patients alike, while also acknowledging precautions. 

Teeth images coming out of computer screen

We have spoken about the various ways virtual communications aid both your practice and your patients a few times. Using resources to keep patients informed and motivated ensures that they are bettering their oral health, even if they have to delay hygiene visits. 

Try sending emails to your patients on file to inform them of oral hygienic practices they can keep doing at home. You can use your dental software’s messaging system for quick and effective communication with your patients. Reaching out to your patients in any capacity contributes to a positive doctor-patient relationship, and will benefit both them and your practice in the long run. 

Something as simple as a reassuring or informative email can leave a positive impact on your regular patients. You can also utilize your social media outlets and your practice’s website to let patients know how your team is doing or provide information on health and safety. For instance, adjusting your homepage content to address whether your office is currently accepting emergencies, or wishing good health to webpage visitors creates a great first impression. Doing this also addresses the situation, thus helping minimize patient anxieties. 

Difficult situations such as outbreaks are bound to happen. All industries face their own set of challenges, and it is important to keep looking forward and remain adaptable in a changing world. While this is a challenging time, doing the best with our available resources make our communities stronger. 


Works Cited: 

Alabdullah, Jafar & Daniel, Susan. (2018). A Systematic Review on the Validity of Teledentistry. Telemedicine and e-Health. 24. 10.1089/tmj.2017.0132.   
Arora PC, Kaur J, Kaur J, Arora A. Teledentistry: An innovative tool for the underserved population. Digit Med [serial online] 2019 [cited 2020 Apr 28];5:6-12. Available from: http://www.digitmedicine.com/text.asp?2019/5/1/6/249836