When they know you are there ...

Only a decade or so ago, advertising and marketing were still not widely accepted by many dentists.

by Alexander H. Nguyen, DDS
Accredited Member, AACD

For more on this topic, go to www.dentaleconomics.com and search using the following key words: Accreditation, AACD, excellence, standards, clinical, Dr. Alexander Nguyen.

Only a decade or so ago, advertising and marketing were still not widely accepted by many dentists. It was assumed that if you built a better mousetrap, the world would, indeed, beat a path to your door. Only unprofessional dentists advertised, or so it was said, because they couldn't get enough patients via their reputation alone.

Through the years, this once-conventional wisdom is no longer be the case. Today, the best dentists recognize that promoting their services is an essential component in creating a successful practice. If you Google "cosmetic dentistry," you will be presented a bewildering five to six million listings.

Pick up a newspaper, city magazine, or other publication and you will likely discover many colleagues who market cosmetic services to the public.

We have a wide array of options when considering how to advertise our practices: the Internet, print, direct mail, billboards, radio, and television. Today's graphic and design technology allows the option to create beautiful, professional, and effective advertisements. So, how will patients choose from the array of options with which they are presented?

Of course, while any dentist can have (or claim to have) cosmetic expertise, Accreditation from the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry confirms this expertise. As patients make their choices, the credential has become the gold standard for the profession. More patients are choosing an AACD Accredited member for cosmetic care.

For this reason, I believe earning accreditation has given me validation when marketing my cosmetic dentistry. My advertisements tend to stand out from other ads because I can display the accredited logo. This logo defines the quality of work that can be produced by dentists who bear its honor.

Backed by a global membership of more than 8,000 dedicated dental professionals, accreditation sets the standard for excellence in cosmetic dentistry. Achieving accredited status requires dedication to continuing education, careful adherence to protocols, and a resolve to produce exceptional dentistry.

When potential patients research cosmetic dentistry, many rely on the accreditation standard because there is no other cosmetic dentistry organization in the world with a better certification process.

I worked hard to earn my accreditation and can now discuss my clinical approach based on the standards of the process. I can show patients my cases, describing what I learned and how I apply those lessons. By reviewing the criteria for outstanding smile designs, I help patients understand what to look for when they evaluate cosmetic options.

This valuable internal marketing tool cannot be bought; it is only earned through a process of learning and application that has been proven to produce excellent clinicians. Once a dentist has accomplished accreditation, he or she will speak differently about dentistry, will produce better results, and will have an accumulation of cases to present to prospective patients.

Frequently, cosmetic patients ask to see photos of completed cases before they decide to proceed with cosmetic care and with whom. As an accredited dentist, my cases show consistently excellent results since I follow a unique set of objective guidelines to help me achieve those results. Without these guidelines, "excellence" would be hard to define.

I demonstrate a consistent adherence to clinical criteria in my sample cases so patients trust that their treatment will have the best chance of turning out as they envision. Just because a patient contacts a dental office for a cosmetic consultation does not mean that he or she will pursue treatment or will use that particular dentist.

Those who select treatment and choose my services do so after they have seen my work and clearly understood their choices.

As an accredited dentist, I have been trained to handle many different cosmetic problems. For example, I can confidently replace a single missing central incisor with an implant or a bridge. I can correct a smile with multiple indirect porcelain restorations or enhance it with multiple direct resin restorations.

Likewise, I can help blend one or two anterior porcelain restorations into a natural dentition just as proficiently as blending the same teeth with resin veneers. Whatever the treatment choice, I can assure patients that the result will look and function in the way it is intended.

Patients often do much homework about treatment options and qualifications as they search for the "right" dentist. As I present proposed work to a patient, my confidence shines. For example, I assure patients that my cases will not depend on the laboratory technician having a really good day.

As an accredited dentist, I partner with laboratory technicians who share a comparable commitment to excellence in clinical performance. Laboratory technicians work closely with me as we strive for perfect results.

This is a tremendous benefit for patients, and a reassuring point for many. Of course, the ultimate treatment choice is for the patient to make; however, the delivery is my responsibility. As an Accredited member of the AACD, I take on cases assured that I can deliver what people want.

My practice's presence on the Internet helps attract many patients. The AACD Web site has a patient referral service that directs patients to various members throughout the country. Typically, accredited members and accredited fellows receive the most interest because prospective patients know the level of dentistry accredited dentists deliver.

To me, this referral service alone is worth my membership investment in the AACD. Every month, with no additional costs, I receive calls from patients who find my practice through the Web site. This is effective marketing!

Being a part of the AACD's "family" of dentists has made my practice attractive to prospective patients. My staff members convey their love of dentistry and cosmetics as they speak with patients.

From the explanation of treatment protocols to the delivery of results, my staff and I adhere to the AACD guidelines of excellence. With a foundation of strong clinical knowledge, we work as a team to fulfill a mission: restore every smile to the best quality level any patient could expect.

To remain at this level of expertise requires continued training and staying abreast of updated information. The AACD's Annual Scientific Session provides our team the opportunity to update clinical techniques, learn about new materials, and review the newest approaches and procedures. Patients are thrilled to hear about our continuing education efforts.

The AACD provides other marketing opportunities such as the Smile Gallery at the Annual Scientific Session. Every year this special event exhibits a collection of cosmetic dental work done by member dentists.

My patients are honored to hear that I will be submitting cases to the Smile Gallery, as well as sharing results with others. Patients know that we work hard to produce outstanding results, so it is special for them to know that we take pride in showing off what we do to other like-minded clinicians. It is simply another pursuit of excellence in our work.

A commitment to excellence is the underlying reason for having my work, practice, and philosophy associated with the prestige of the AACD.

My practice's marketing efforts are based on a collective presentation of technique, patient management, ethics, and passion for the art.

In today's world of creative marketing, we have choices when it comes to letting the world know about our businesses. I think the quality marketing materials will attract the types of patients who look for quality treatment.

As the Internet continues to create ways for patients to become better informed about the work that they need, today's dental professionals must be ready to meet the demand of these knowledgeable patients. By basing my work on a foundation of an organization with a history of commitment to excellence, I market and deliver work with confidence. I know my patients will attest to why they chose an AACD Accredited dentist.

Dr. Alex Nguyen is a 1993 graduate of University of the Pacific School of Dentistry in San Francisco. Dr. Nguyen has been a member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry since 1999. He maintains a private practice in Saratoga, Calif., that focuses on comprehensive and esthetic dentistry. You can reach Dr. Nguyen via e-mail at alex@saratogadentalspa.com.

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