Dental information in cyberspace

Communication has become a key component of everything we do as dental practitioners. The Internet is an ideal medium in which to gather good information and get it out to the public.

Jeffrey B. Dalin, DDS, FACD, FAGD, FICD

Communication has become a key component of everything we do as dental practitioners. The Internet is an ideal medium in which to gather good information and get it out to the public. Information is the number one reason people go online. One day soon, the World Wide Web may become the standard — and ultimate — way to communicate with potential and existing patients.

Establishing a Web presence allows you to feature your practice in a location for all of these patients to view your practice and what you have to offer. It offers a way to differentiate your office from others in your area. It allows you to describe the services you offer to both potential patients your current patients-of-record. Most importantly, a Web site provides a way to "get the word out" about new technologies in dentistry that can both improve patients' oral health and enhance the appearance of their smile look. Best of all, a Web site gives you a way to disseminate this information on a broad basis without using up your time or that of your staff.

Finding Information for Your Web Site

So where do you find the type of information that your patients will want to know about? What follows is a listing of a number of sites you can visit to gather information describing many different dental services and subjects. This information is all written with the consumer in mind. Visit these sites and to see what type of information is already out there in cyberspace. All of it can be used on dental practice Web sites, in patient-information handouts, and in practice newsletters. These informational sites include:

American Dental Association: www.ada.orgpub lic/topics/index.asp

Academy of General Dentistry: www.agd.org/con sumer/resources.html

American Academy of Periodontology: www.perio.org

American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry: www.aapd.org/pediatricinformation

American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons: www.aaoms.org/public/public_template .asp?entity_id=117&content_type_id=120

However, you may want to go beyond setting up a Web site to improve communication with your patients. You might also want to develop and mail out a practice newsletter. Here are some companies who provide excellent products:

Patient News Publishing: www.patientnews.com

Hycomb Marketing: www.hycomb.com

Newsletters Ink: www.newslettersink.com

These products will arrive at your patients' homes via snail mail. If you have collected your patients' e-mail addresses and want your newsletters to go out this way, here are a few companies who can help you accomplish this:

Edentalmarketing: www.edentalmarketing.com

Dentistry Online (Smile Link): www.dentistryon line.com

Internet Dental Alliance: www.internetdentalal liance.com

Web Dental Marketing: www.webdentalmarket ing.com

If you are looking for information that only a dentist would be interested in finding, here are some great sites to explore:

Dental Icon: www.dentalicon.com

Dental Resources: www.dental-resources.com

Web Dental: www.webdental.com

Yahoo Dental: dir.yahoo.com/health/medi cine/dentistry

Now that your fingers are exhausted from visiting all of the above sites and you have used a ream of paper printing out all of this great information, there is one other group of online Web sites that might be helpful. This group is composed of the numerous Web sites of individual dentists around the world. I listed many of these sites in my column in the May issue of Dental Economics, so refer back to it for this listing.

As you surf around and visit the sites of your colleagues, be sure to check out what they have listed in their information sections. The Internet is an invaluable resource for the latest information on dentistry for both you and your patients. Go online, gather this information, and use it to build or improve your practice. You will not be disappointed!

Jeffrey B. Dalin, DDS, FACD, FAGD, FICD, practices general dentistry in St. Louis. He also is the editor of St. Louis Dentistry magazine and spokesman and critical-issue-response-team chairman for the Greater St. Louis Dental Society. His address on the Internet is www.dfdas miles.com. Contact him by email at jeff@dfdasmiles.com, by phone at (314) 567-5612, or by fax at (314) 567-9047.

More in Macro/Op-Ed