by Louis Malcmacher, DDS, MAGD
Do you remember many years ago when whitening strips were just getting off the ground? Procter & Gamble developed a $120 million marketing campaign to introduce Crest Whitestrips to the U.S. market. This caused quite the controversy in dentistry. Many shortsighted dentists were very upset that a company would go straight to consumers with what seemed to be a dental treatment. Some dentists screamed that this would give whitening a bad name. They thought consumers would try it and for a myriad of reasons it might not work, and then people would never go through with any kind of cosmetic dental procedure again.
To the smart dentists who knew how to take advantage of this wonderful marketing opportunity -- which didn't cost any of us a penny because Procter & Gamble was footing the advertising bill -- we were able to motivate thousands of patients who normally wouldn't have given it any thought at all to accomplish teeth whitening.
A great opportunity
We are again faced with another great marketing opportunity that will not cost our offices one red cent. Allergan, the makers of Botox, has started a nationwide campaign in every form of media promoting the use of Botox for migraine headaches. In February 2011, Botox was given FDA clearance as a primary treatment for chronic migraines. Allergan has gone straight to consumers and is educating them about the uses of Botox for migraines. They are doing this through a nationwide campaign with the help of the American Migraine Foundation and its high profile spokesperson, Cindy McCain, the wife of Senator John McCain.
Some of you may be thinking, "But, I'm a dentist; I don't treat headaches." The answer to that is, "Yes, you do. You've been treating headaches since the day you opened your dental practice." You've been treating all sorts of facial pain, whether it's toothache, jaw aches, temporomandibular joint disorder, bruxism, occlusal dysfunction, and many other contributory and causal factors to headaches, especially migraines and temporomandibular disorders. Many patients with headaches and migraines have TMJ disorders and vice versa -- they are all multifactorial and oftentimes interrelated.
Dentists are the single primary and frontline health-care provider for any kind of facial pain, including all kinds of headaches. You will be amazed at what you can accomplish as a general dentist with what you already know, plus some additional training in proper diagnosis. You can find and treat trigger points, and use Botox therapeutically for head and neck pain as well as dental pain. Yes, muscles or other factors that are not related to teeth cause some dental pain. Do you want proof? A study published in JADA in 2011 estimates approximately 680,000 endodontic therapies are performed unnecessarily every year because the tooth was not the source of the pain.
Why do you have questions about headaches and migraines on your medical history form? Let's be honest -- most of you see that the patient has checked it, yet you don't even bring it up in conversation. Why would you ignore it when you, the dental professional, can and should be the frontline provider of myofascial pain treatment? It just takes a little bit of training and the skills you already have to treat patients in a systematic approach. This approach will help many of your patients find relief, and will open up a whole new area of your practice without a single capital investment for your office.
Just ask your patients
During the next week, ask all patients about their headaches and migraines and you will be amazed at the number of patients in your office who would welcome immediate treatment. Can this new Botox for chronic migraines marketing campaign really drive patients to seek treatment? Yes, thousands of patients are now looking for health-care professionals to get help with their facial pain. If your office has openings in your daily schedule, if you are looking to expand your office by offering more services, if you're interested in really helping your patients, friends, and family find some real relief for their myofascial pain, then it's time to get some training in frontline TMJ, headaches, and facial pain treatment.
Louis Malcmacher, DDS, MAGD, is a practicing general dentist, lecturer, author, and dental consultant. An evaluator emeritus for CLINICIANS REPORT, he is the president of the American Academy of Facial Esthetics. Contact him at (800) 952-0521 or drlouis@FacialEsthetics.org. Sign up for a free monthly newsletter at www.commonsensedentistry.com.