Proactively including ortho in your practice

Feb. 1, 2010
— a possible path for overcoming the strongest economic headwinds since the Great Depression

— a possible path for overcoming the strongest economic headwinds since the Great Depression

For more on this topic, go to and search using the following key words: orthodontics, dental economy, market potential, baby boomers, mindset, Gary Kadi.

Before Plasma and LCD HDTVs, we baby boomers had televisions with cathode ray tubes, vacuum tubes, vertical and horizontal hold knobs, and color–tuning knobs. Back in the day, that was cutting edge compared to the black–and–white versions the generations before us enjoyed, and it was a very far cry from sitting around “watching” the radio that our ancestors appreciated.

Wow, when you really take a look at the evolution of television in our lifetime alone, technology has come a long way. Crystal–clear, high–definition is just a pushbutton away, whereas just a few years ago we needed to manually work the horizontal hold to bring the picture from left to right or fat to skinny, then work with the vertical hold to manage the picture up and down, and tweak here and there on the color knobs to change the green or purple faces to an approximate “flesh” tone. Back then, we even had to get up off the couch to make that happen! Today, we have the remote control — again, making what was once a chore, a breeze.

The complexities of managing your dental practice can sometimes be as challenging as it used to be to gain a clear picture on your TV. Economic times have dramatically changed since then, and now is the time to consider expanding your scope of services.

For the purposes of this article, we will focus on straightening teeth in your general practice. I say “straightening teeth” because it is the benefit that will drive marketing for the rest of your practice. I think adding and proactively positioning ortho addresses several layers of solutions.

Let's take a step back and look at this opportunity

First things first: let's check your mindset. Do not hop on the bandwagon that blames the economy for your practice “not working.” Do not go to your colleagues for agreement or sympathy that there is a downturn in your business. General practitioners participate in the dental economy. It is different from the U.S. economy. While it is important to pay close attention to the factors affecting those who buy your services, the dental entrepreneur's job is to swiftly maneuver around or through those circumstances. The crisis surrounding the U.S. economy is important, but it is just another circumstance to manage.

Being agile and willing to successfully adapt to all circumstances is a dental entrepreneur's job. The desire to buy is rooted in emotion, and if you and your team know how to speak directly to that emotion, your patients will find the money to get what they want done regardless of their circumstance.

Whether you are introducing orthodontia or committing to offering it as a priority, success comes with good strategy, structure, and boundaries.

Here are a few things that will help you answer the question, “Should I add orthodontics to my practice?”

1. The huge market potential. Data indicates a large, untapped market opportunity for orthodontia among GPs. According to a Hawk Partner survey, 40% of GP patients said they would benefit from orthodontia, but only 7% received treatment from their GP or were referred to an orthodontist.

Thirty–seven percent of those who were treated had ortho done by their GPs and 63% were treated by an orthodontist. The most notable point here is that the opportunity lies in having an educational system to offer orthodontics during the patient's hygiene visit so we can serve the gap between those who know they would benefit from ortho (40%) and those who actually get treated (7%).

In the worst of economic times, people spend more money on things that that make them feel better. Everything from lipstick to liquor sales increase during downturns in the economy. Also important to note is that while 40% of patients believe they would benefit from orthodontia, a whopping 70% of patients are candidates for ortho from an esthetic, function, or health perspective.

2. Baby boomers will invest to look and feel younger. Adult ortho is now considered mainstream and actually en vogue. The market has never been as primed as it is today. Also, adult baby boomers have a higher deserve level than prior generations, as well as the money to invest in feeling better and enhancing their self–esteem. Even during this economic crisis, they will have the money to invest in themselves, however, you'll have to offer it and show them how it will make them look and feel better about themselves. Remember that some will and some won't. You only need a few patients per month in the grand scheme to make this all work.

3. Low overhead, high return on chair time. With the invention of Invisalign, general practitioners can get a great result without investing loads of money in clinical training or hiring expensive and qualified assistants. Leave the more complex cases to the specialist. Given the above market figures, your orthodontist will also dramatically benefit from your newfound focus on ortho. You will not be taking cases away from him or her, you will be creating a triple win where you and your team, your patient, and your referring orthodontist all win. If you take on just one or two new Invisalign cases per week, that can turn into some serious dollars.

4. Reduced treatment failure risk. Aligntech recently rolled out Invisalign Assist, which is a new support program that gives GPs the support they need to help select appropriate cases, keep treatments on track, minimize or eliminate the potential for treatment failures, and finish cases in a manner that satisfies treatment goals. Do not try to take on cases that do not fit the boundaries set by Invisalign; send the complex cases to your orthodontist.

5. Increase your team members' pay with incremental income from sold cases rather than costly, flat–rate, hourly increases. A great way to share in the incremental sales is to put a flat rate of $500 per case in a monthly kitty to be split equally with the team. It takes a team to close a case, and you will keep the internal orthodontic recommendations high when your team knows they will win by doing so. This helps you make your one case per hygienist per week mean incremental bucks for them and less “raise” headaches for you.

6. Your ortho cases become no–cost marketing for you. My wife and I are personally doing Invisalign and we have referred two cases in three weeks. Interruption marketing is passé and “viral” marketing is new school. When my wife and I go out to dinner, waiters and friends see our Invisalign clam case and ask about it. My wife is a naturalist and she is very motivated and excited to enhance her smile because she feels it will make her look younger without surgery. I am doing it because she said to do it. In a USA Today cover story, women make 74% of the household buying decisions. (I say the other 26% are lying!)

I hope now you have enough information to decide if offering ortho is right for your practice. Yesterday's complex practice management challenges can only be handled by today's simple Radical Common Sense solutions.

Dr. Stephen LaDuque in rural Stephenville, Texas, states, “If you're not doing ortho in your practice, I say try it. You'll be pleasantly surprised at the results. My hygienist, Wendi, and I recently refreshed our skills with Invisalign. The following week Wendi presented and closed four cases in one week! For several months prior, we had closed an average of about two cases per month. She did not perceive this as ‘selling,' rather ‘presenting' to patients. Her patients were happy to finally have the opportunity to do something they had only previously dreamed of.”

Gary Kadi, founder of NextLevel Practice and author of “Million Dollar Dentistry,” is globally recognized as the dental expert for profound results in the lives of dentists, dental teams, and their patients. Call now to get your No. 1 unanswered question in your practice answered at (866) 926–0914, and visit

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