Many American Dental Association dentist members have reported that their practices aren’t busy enough, and that they have the capacity to fill empty chair time. The truth is, they’re right. Research from the ADA Health Policy Institute reported a steady decline in adult patients. From 2006 to 2012, the number of adult patients declined by 7%. Yet the US population has grown by 5%, and the number of dentists has increased by 9%.
Why aren’t people going to the dentist? For more than 19 million people, the barrier is their busy lives. In 2016, the ADA conducted its first consumer research project to identify the reasons why adults do or do not visit the dentist regularly. The results showed that with busy jobs, family obligations, and many other activities, dental visits get moved further down the list.
Armed with this information, the ADA Council on Communications presented a resolution to the 2016 House of Delegates to address this issue. The result is a three-year, $18 million national digital campaign designed to encourage adults to schedule their dental appointments. The House voted overwhelmingly to support member businesses by helping them get more patients through this initiative.
Slogan: “Your teeth are amazing!”
To help dental practices bring in more business and to educate patients about the importance of seeing their dentist regularly, the ADA worked with advertising agency GMMB to create the campaign. This ad creative informs consumers, “Your teeth are amazing!” and that an ADA dentist can help keep them that way. Part of the strategy behind the ad creative is to encourage people to take care of their mouths, without making people feel guilty about missing appointments. Because who likes to be lectured?
In addition to the “Your teeth are amazing!” digital display ads, the campaign includes sponsored Facebook posts and search advertising. This means that when potential patients search for a dentist via Google or another search engine, a link to the Find-a-Dentist tool will show up toward the top of search results.
New ADA Find-a-Dentist tool
All ads direct users to the new ADA Find-a-Dentist tool (findadentist.ada.org). This tool gives patients the information they need to find a dentist near them. A complete profile shows users a dentist’s photo, office location, hours, accepted benefit plans, and languages. A mapping function shows patients how far they’ll need to travel to the office.
ADA member dentists can log in at ADA.org and view metrics on the number of profile views. State and local dental societies also receive reports on completed searches and profile views to gauge how the campaign is working by region.
The Find-a-Dentist tool is for ADA members only, and it is already proving to be a great member benefit. Within weeks of the new tool launch and before any promotion, the ADA heard from an Ohio dentist who welcomed a new patient who located her through the Find-a-Dentist tool. The patient drove 20 minutes to visit this dentist. Completed searches and profile views are up 221% compared to the same time a year ago.
The tool has an 81% approval rating from consumers who have completed more than 160,000 searches in three months prior to the campaign launch. We don’t want anyone to miss out on this great tool. The best way to get new patients through this initiative is to provide a complete profile on the tool. Don’t forget to upload your photo, because we know that photo profiles receive 11 times more clicks. Plus, a photo helps elevate you in the search algorithm.
To find out how to fill out a profile or upload your photo, go to ada.org/myada and login with your member user ID and password. If you want more details, watch http://bit.ly/2vggh8U on the ADA’s YouTube channel.
Craig W. Herre, DDS, is a past president of the Kansas Dental Association, a delegate to the ADA, and currently chairs the Council on Communications for the ADA. He is a fellow of the American College of Dentists and the Pierre Fauchard Academy. Dr. Herre is the cofounder of the Texas Center for Occlusal Studies in Dallas, Texas. He maintains a private practice in Leawood, Kansas, with his son, Tim Herre, DDS.