Drive new patients to your practice using cosmetic orthodontics

Dec. 1, 2008
When starting a new general dentistry practice or looking to jump-start an existing one, several things should occur.

by Rick DePaul, DDS

For more on this topic, go to and search using the following key words: orthodontics, patients, treatment, cosmetic dentistry, general dentistry, referrals, ROI, dental fees, Dr. Rick DePaul

When starting a new general dentistry practice or looking to jump-start an existing one, several things should occur. They include differentiating yourself from other dental practices, attracting a high number of quality patients who want to complete treatment, and finding a low-cost way to get started with a high ROI.

Let's examine how providing cosmetic orthodontics in your dental practice can achieve all of these goals and more.

Many doctors are frightened by the notion of offering orthodontics to their patients. Most dental students do not receive adequate orthodontic training and are told the only appropriate thing to do is refer these patients to an orthodontist.

Don't be apprehensive about providing orthodontic treatment to your patients. Many fine orthodontic instructors are available to lead you on your journey to provide stellar orthodontic treatment to your patients. Cosmetic orthodontic procedures, such as the Powerprox Six Month Braces technique, are geared more toward anterior cosmetic correction in adult patients than skeletal and occlusal changes in young patients. This technique can be learned more easily than comprehensive orthodontic treatment geared toward children. No previous orthodontic experience is needed to learn this technique. For more information, visit

Let's explore how offering cosmetic orthodontics can provide a powerful marketing niche, dramatically stimulate your new patient flow, accelerate your orthodontic starts, increase the amount of cosmetic and general dentistry services you perform, and assure maximum profitability to jump-start your practice to the highest level of success.

Differentiate yourself from other dental practices

The best way to differentiate your practice is to create a powerful marketing niche. Cosmetic orthodontics can do this.

With the increase in wants- versus needs-based treatment options, there has been a corresponding increase in the marketing of dental services over the last few years. Almost every dentist provides tooth-whitening and other cosmetic services. Because so many doctors perform these services, you may not be able to differentiate yourself from other doctors when marketing these procedures.

By offering and marketing cosmetic orthodontic procedures, you can achieve that differentiation and increase your return on investment at the same time. Here's why. When patients find out that they can have straight teeth in just six months, they get extremely excited and highly motivated to learn more about this service.

People want straight teeth and they want them fast. Cosmetic orthodontics achieves this, and it is a great alternative for those who have refused comprehensive orthodontics. That happens when patients do not want their teeth prepared for porcelain veneers, or they cannot afford porcelain veneers. But now you have provided them with another alternative, and that will drive them to your practice.

Attract a high number of quality patients who want to complete treatment

You want your marketing efforts to attract high-quality patients who will complete full dental treatment. Obviously, if you start providing cosmetic orthodontics, you will increase the number of orthodontic cases you start. This can lead to patients accepting other services from you. Additionally, referrals from both existing patients and other doctors will increase.

Increase the amount of cosmetic dentistry you do

Patients seeking cosmetic orthodontics are usually cosmetically oriented. This type of patient's motivation will increase his or her likelihood of accepting more cosmetic services, which will ultimately increase your practice's profitability. Cosmetically-focused patients want tooth-whitening. They also will be more likely to want a cosmetic alternative to amalgam restorations. Some cases will be "combination cases," combining cosmetic orthodontics with cosmetic dentistry.

They may also want veneers and bonding in addition to cosmetic orthodontics. Treating these patients with cosmetic orthodontics prior to placing veneers will allow for a much more conservative smile makeover.

By correcting teeth-crowding, lining up the teeth, and opening the bite, you can:

  1. Reduce the amount of tooth reduction required for your veneers
  2. Reduce or eliminate the need for intentional endodontics
  3. Reduce the amount of crown-lengthening needed to perfect your cosmetic cases.

This will make those "impossible" veneer cases easy. Providing cosmetic orthodontics will be your gateway to increasing the amount of cosmetic dentistry that you do. Cosmetic orthodontics is a very powerful cosmetic dentistry practice-builder.

Increase the amount of general dentistry you do

Many patients seeking cosmetic orthodontics have not been to the dentist in many years. They have neglected their teeth. These patients have numerous periodontal and restorative needs that must be taken care of prior to placing braces. They now will be motivated to get their mouths healthy so they can improve their smiles. These are very dedicated and motivated patients — they have a destination in mind. They want straight teeth, and with that goal, they show up for their appointments and complete their general dentistry in a timely fashion so they can begin cosmetic orthodontic treatment as soon as possible.

Another great benefit of cosmetic orthodontics is that you get to spend more time with these patients. This allows you to develop better relationships. This will lead to patients staying on with you as regular general dentistry patients after their orthodontics services have been completed ... even if they have traveled a great distance to see you.

Increase the number of referrals from patients and doctors

Patients who have received cosmetic orthodontic services talk about these services with their friends and families — it creates a lot of "buzz." The patients are wearing a conversation-starter with the braces themselves. One of the first things patients receiving these services is likely to share is that they will only have to wear the braces for six months. That fact can create a lot of interest from those they talk to and stimulate referrals. Additionally, once other area doctors know you are providing this service, referrals from them will increase as well. Many doctors will send these patients to you to "set up" their cosmetic cases.

A low-cost way to get started with a high ROI

When first starting a practice, you need affordable continuing education that will give you an instant return on your investment. Cosmetic orthodontics accomplishes this goal effectively. Training is available either at live, hands-on seminars or with at-home learning materials. The investment for this training is from $1,000 to $1,500. The investment in instruments, pliers, brackets, wires, etc., is about $1,000. This is a low cost of entry for such a highly profitable procedure. The average case fee is approximately $4,000.

The fees from your very first case will pay for your education, instruments, and materials. The entire procedure takes just three to four hours of total chair time. Doctor time can be as little as one hour per case because much of the work can be delegated to staff members.

Once your eyes have been opened to what you can accomplish with this procedure, you will be amazed at how many patients you will "find" within your current general dentistry practice. These patients — coupled with those coming directly from your marketing efforts — will greatly increase your services and, ultimately, your profitability. The bonus to all this is a lower-stress dental practice.

Now it's your turn to jump-start your general dentistry practice to the highest level of success.

Richard J. DePaul, Jr., DDS, is a general and cosmetic dentist and developer of the Powerprox Six Month Braces® Technique. A recognized authority on the technique, he has authored two books on the topic, lectures extensively, and teaches the Powerprox technique to an international listing of dentists. Reach Dr. DePaul at [email protected].

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