Does COVID-19 have you gritting your teeth with worry? You’re not alone. The number of Americans who are suffering from stress-related dental conditions is rising, according to the ADA Health Policy Institute's COVID-19 impact poll—and that presents opportunities for dental practices.
More than half of dentists in the September ADA poll reported seeing an increase in bruxism, chipped or cracked teeth, and temporomandibular disorders among their patients. In addition, over 25% reported an increase in caries and periodontal disease. For dentists seeking to restore patient volume to pre-pandemic numbers, the increase in oral health problems offers an opportunity to fill chairs and boost revenues beyond the limited income hygiene visits provide.
Although 99% of dental offices have reopened, patient volume remains at just 80% of pre-COVID levels. Many people are still worried about the health risks of visiting a dentist or are putting it off until the pandemic is over. To overcome these fears, attract patients and increase revenues, follow this three-pronged plan.
Educate patients about pandemic-related dental health risks
Patients may not realize the potential health problems that can arise from grinding their teeth or jaw tension. Use the Lighthouse 360 eblast feature to send email messages educating your patients in how to recognize stress-related dental problems and the importance of treating these problems before they worsen and cause costlier health issues. Share this information on your website and social accounts, too, to help attract new patients who may have these problems.
Remind patients that even if they currently feel fine, regular hygiene visits and professional exams are critical to spotting stress-related oral conditions early. Keeping your hygiene schedule full also gives your team more opportunities to find and present treatment cases.
Give patients confidence it’s safe to visit your office
Dental fears are common at the best of times. Ease patients’ worries about dental appointments by highlighting your new protocols and infection control measures. Lighthouse 360’s eblast feature allows offices to effectively stay connected with their patients, keeping them informed and giving them confidence that it is safe to visit your practice.
Lighthouse 360’s Virtual Waiting Room provides all the tools you need for contactless patient engagement, including:
- Paperless patient forms: Using Lighthouse 360’s Patient FastTrack feature, new patients can complete and e-sign registration forms on their own phones or tablets. You can use the default patient agreement and intake forms built into Patient FastTrack or edit and customize them to fit your practice’s unique needs. Patients can also receive their COVID screener form with their paperless forms, and in their last-minute text reminder before their appointment.
- Curbside check-in: When patients arrive, use the Two-Way texting feature within Lighthouse 360 to safely stay connected with patients, and alert them when their chair is ready, and that it is safe to come into the practice
- Text-to-pay options: Reduce time patients must spend in the office by providing contactless payment options. With Lighthouse 360’s Online Bill Pay feature, you can text patients their billing information and have them make payments on your practice’s website.
Increase case acceptance
Case acceptance is key to growing your revenues. To boost case acceptance, be prepared to act quickly when you discover a dental issue that needs treatment. Adjust your schedule to ensure your team has the flexibility to offer same-day treatment. This can help increase case acceptance among patients who may be seeking to limit the number of visits to your practice.
If patients don’t have time or your schedule doesn’t allow completing recommended treatments that day, see if you can perform at least part of the treatments and get the patient’s commitment for the rest.
Once patients have agreed to treatment, it’s more important than ever to make sure they follow through. Turning on Lighthouse 360’s automated treatment plan reminders can help prevent no-shows and keep your chairs full.
In today’s economy, patients may have trouble paying for recommended procedures, especially if they no longer have dental insurance. When you discuss treatment, explain any money-saving alternatives you offer, such health-care credit cards, payment plans or dental discount plans or such as DentalPlans.com.
In these anxious times, patients are more likely than ever to be suffering from stress-related oral health problems. Lighthouse 360 can equip your practice to keep them informed about these trends and feeling safe about visiting your practice.