How to get more patients by treating the whole family, Issue 5

Struggling to bring more business into your practice? You’re not alone, but some have found a source of success. Many general dentists are discovering that the answer may be in expanding to a wider patient base.

Struggling to bring more business into your practice? You’re not alone, but some have found a source of success. Many general dentists are discovering that the answer may be in expanding to a wider patient base.

Younger patients are part of an ever-growing pool of opportunity for dentists. According to various reports, during the struggling economy many adults are delaying their regular visits to the dentist. But here’s the rub-no matter the state of the economy, most adults won’t cut back on dental care for their children. 

And with more and more pediatric resources hitting the market, it’s becoming easier to be able to properly care for younger patients. These advancements are proving that general dentists are more motivated than ever to treat children. 

Here are some of the various reasons to consider widening your practice to treat children:

Supply and demand

Since 1995, the dentist-to-population ratio has been declining, particularly in pediatric dentistry.  Of the approximately 190,000 dentists in the U.S. today, only about 6,000 are pediatric specialists. Do the math-there aren’t enough to cover all of the needs of all of the children. 

This gap isn’t just limited to dentists either. According to surveys conducted by the journal Anesthesia Progress, the demand for dentist anesthesiologists in pediatric dental practices is on the rise. More than 70 percent of board-certified pediatric dentists in the United States provide mild to moderate sedation in their practices.

Nearly that many, 60 to 70 percent, would use a dentist anesthesiologist if one were available. However, supply cannot yet meet the demand.

Product Advancements in the Industry

As pediatric dentistry has grown, pediatric dental technology has improved. The tools and products available have made it significantly easier for dentists to tailor their treatment to all ages. There are pediatric-sized intra-oral sensors, smaller hand-pieces, distraction devices such as video games, and a growing selection of pediatric-specific products, and more.

For example, there are now options for cosmetic restorations for primary teeth with NuSmile products. This type of advancement used to be unheard of.

NuSmile, leading manufacturer of pediatric crowns, offers an array of crowns that are easy to place and give a child needing restorative treatment the most natural-looking smile. Described as an evolutionary step forward for pediatric dentistry, NuSmile Try-In Crowns are easy-to-use and ensure a successful restoration every time they are used.

[Read ‘The top 5 reasons to buy NuSmile ZR zirconia crowns from NuSmile Pediatric Crowns’]

There also have been advancements in products working to limit the bad dental habits of children, such as Ortho-Tain’s Habit Corrector appliances. Habit Corrector is a dental appliance with the goal to correct and end bad oral habits that most kids experience growing up.

“A lot of children have habits at an early age, pacifiers- for example- create open bites and these open bites can persist for the rest of a person’s life,” says Dr. Earl Bergesen. “If they’re not corrected early, it’s almost impossible to correct them at 12 or 15 years of age.”

Teach them While They’re Young

From childhood to adulthood, it can be easier to determine treatment when you know the patient’s full story. You’ll get that if you were there from the beginning and helped shape that young patients’ idea of excellent dental and oral health.

PLUS, kids can be downright rock stars in the dental chair.

Many dentists contend that children make better patients than adults. And the younger you can treat them, the better they are and the better they become. They have no preconceived notions of pain or fear of the dentist’s chair, so they often go through the appointment without any difficulties. 

Check out these kids being rock stars at the dentist.

Perceived Difficulties Aren’t Always Accurate

If you’re not used to treating children or a child with behavioral issues or with special needs, the thought of having one of these patients in your chair can be a little intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be.

From the time they enter the practice until the time you’re ready to perform any necessary procedures, there’s plenty you and your team can do to put these patients at ease, making their visit to your practice much more pleasant for them as well as you and your staff. We talked to Dr. Fred Margolis, a pediatric dentist who practices in Highland Park, Ill., about what dentists can do to make this happen.

Click here to read some tips that can help make treating these patients a rewarding experience, rather than a stressful one.