Dental Marketing and Management: Surveys Dentists Valued Most in 2011

In a perfect dental practice, you’d know exactly what your dental patients were thinking and the best ways to market them.

Unfortunately, dental marketing doesn’t work this way, so you’ve got to use the right marketing resources to reach more dental patients.

The availability of The Wealthy Dentist survey responses means dentists and dental professionals have been able to network and share the best dental practice management strategies without having to contact other dentists on their own.

Our marketing team researches and surveys dentists from across the U.S. and Canada to gain feedback on what is happening to dentists in the industry and how best to address their dental marketing concerns.

In 2011 dentists, hygienists, periodontists, orthodontists, prosthodontists, and even an urgent-care dentist provided The Wealthy Dentist with honest survey feedback on a variety of subjects from handling negative online reviews to wisdom teeth removal fees. The knowledge shared has been invaluable to all, so we thought we’d share our top 5 dental marketing surveys from 2011.

Here are the top 5 surveys in order of popularity —

1. Placing Amalgam

In August, we asked dentists if their dental practice placed amalgams. 40% of the dentists who responded are still placing amalgam. Another 27% placed amalgam in only special circumstances, while 33% did not use amalgam at all.

One California dentist for the use of amalgam commented, “They last much longer, less sensitivity and there is no credible evidence they have killed anyone. Remember composites contain Bis-Phenol and I still place many more composites, GI’s, then amalgams. Because of their proven longevity, it is unethical to not offer amalgam to your dental patients.

In contrast, a Florida dentist responded, “I haven’t placed them in 30 years. Any doctor who doesn’t know mercury is a poison should have his degree cancelled!”

2. Digital X-Rays

In September, we asked if dentists if their practice used digital x-rays. Dentists let us know that digital technology has absolutely reached the dentist’s office. 66% of the dentists surveyed now use digital X-rays, while only 34% reported that they still use film.

One Illinois dentist, who thinks digital X-ray was a great investment wrote, “Who in this day and age doesn’t (use digital X-ray)? It is SO inexpensive compared to what I paid over 10 years ago to do it, that it is a ‘no-brainer’ to do. PLUS the savings in chemicals, processor maintenance, employee time to do these non-essential weekly maintenance jobs, making duplicates for insurance etc. just makes going digital a “slam dunk” decision! This is why, once I purchased it, I realized these benefits and then lectured on going digital.”

One drawback of digital X-rays is the sensor expense, as shared by a California dentist, “The technology finally meets or exceeds the quality of film radiology — but with some drawbacks. The cost for the sensors and viewing equipment is very high, compared to the same film-based radiology. The bitewing views are not fully closed-mouth as bitewings done with films, because of the sensor cords. And the sensors have some limitations of placement freedom due to their rigidity and thickness compared to the relative patient comfort with films.”

3. Raising fees.

Another popular summer survey was when we asked dentists to tell us the last time they raised their fees. 56% had raised their fees within the last year, 26% raised them within the last two years, 11% in the last three years, and only 7% in the last 5 years. This survey revealed that suburban dentists were 3 times as likely to have raised their fees than their urban or rural counterparts.

An Illinois dentist shared his system for raising fees, “We raise our fees on a rolling schedule. We raise fees in certain areas (hygiene one quarter, crowns the next quarter etc.) every quarter. We base our fee increases on the prevailing fees in our zip code which we obtain through an annual fee survey which we purchase. While it may not be 100% accurate, it gives us a guide as to the fees in the area.”

While a Nevada dentist complained that raising fees were impossible when dealing with PPO insurance companies, “I haven’t raised fees for 3-4 years. I used to raise them every year. But raising fees is almost a moot point because the majority of my patients are on PPO insurances that are not raising fees at all, and in some cases, lowering reimbursements.”

4. Fluoridation of local water supplies.

In California, when the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors moved to increase the percentage of county residents receiving fluoridated tap water, the hotly debated subject of fluoride became front page news once again. We decided to ask dentists if they supported the fluoridation of public water supplies.

68% of dentists surveyed said that they supported the fluoridation of public water supplies, while 32% said fluoridating our drinking water was unnecessary.

A Michigan dentist offered his own data in support of fluoridation, “I practice in the county where Muskegon was the control city when Grand Rapids started fluoridating their water in 1945. 80-90% of my patients had fluoridated water when their teeth were developing. With probably 99% accuracy I know whether they had city water (with fluoride) or well water (no fluoride). The difference in decay rate is substantial.”

A Florida dentist (among others) felt fluoridation was medicating the masses, “We should not mass-medicate without the will of the masses! There are controversies that are appalling. The truth is in question about the benefits versus the risks. The opposition should be given an opportunity to present scientific data.”

5. Negative Online Reviews

Nothing strikes more fear to the heart of dentistry than a negative online review, and this year we’ve seen no shortage of stories on dentists who sued their patients for leaving a bad review on Yelp. In trying to help dentists navigate this new dental marketing tool, we asked dentists in March if they had experienced a negative online review.

64% of the dentists who responded to this survey said that they had experienced a negative online review, with 31% saying they received more than one. Only 36% had not (yet) experienced a negative online review.

A California dentist shared a complaint we often hear about negative online reviews, “A staff member was able to find out who posted the review and they weren’t a patient. It was just someone posting negative things about businesses randomly.

The Wealthy Dentist was initially contacted by Yelp after this survey to offer some future articles about how dentists can better handle a negative online review, but after repeated attempts to follow up with Yelp to provide this for our dentists, Yelp has refused to respond.

So there you have our top 5 dental surveys for 2011. If you would like to participate in our weekly dental surveys, please sign up for The Wealthy Dentist newsletter in the right column of this website. The Wealthy Dentist never sells, rents or shares your personal information, including your e-mail address.

Do you have any dental marketing or management topics you’d like to suggest for future The Wealthy Dentist surveys?

Leave us a comment and let us know and have a prosperous New Year!

About Jim Du Molin

+Jim Du Molin is a leading Internet marketing expert for dentists in North America. He has helped hundreds of doctors make more money in their practices using his proven Internet marketing techniques.


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