The power of the media is something crucial to every dental practice now more than ever before.
Louis Malcmacher, DDS, MAGD
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The power of the media is something crucial to every dental practice now more than ever before. In the past, before social media and even before the Internet became what it is today, if there was a negative news item about dentistry on the radio and television, while it certainly impacted every dental office, it had a limited life span. It was literally “15 minutes of fame” and then it was gone.
This is completely not true anymore. We live in quite a different world than we did when I started in dentistry. A story related to any aspect of dentistry, good or bad, now stays with us forever and can be referred to at the click of a mouse. More importantly, any news about dentistry is no longer limited to the time a television program airs, but is distributed faster and farther than ever before due to the website and social media that are attached to every celebrity, news anchor, and television show.
This means that patients have unlimited access to news for an unlimited time period. These items then multiply and replicate via social media. Patients may then ask you about something that was in the news about dentistry months ago, and they expect you to know about it like it is today’s news.
Here are a couple of examples of what I’m talking about. There have been numerous discussions in social media about the safety of dental X-rays. Much of the discussion stems from an individual who referenced the Dr. Oz show that aired on Sept. 28, 2010.
The episode focused on thyroid cancer, and during a portion of the show Dr. Oz promoted the use of protective leaded aprons and thyroid collars to reduce radiation exposure, a practice the ADA recommends in The Selection of Patients for Dental Radiographic Examinations, developed by the ADA and FDA.
While the ADA believes the radiation exposure from dental X-rays is low relative to other sources, every precaution should be taken to ensure that radiation exposure is as low as reasonably achievable (the ALARA principle). The ADA recommends that dentists use leaded aprons and leaded thyroid collars (or nonlead equivalents) whenever possible.
Here is a more recent example that has patients asking for a change in the office. I wrote an article in April 2010 titled, “Don’t cross contaminate me!” about one of the biggest leaks in dental infection control — bib clips. Guess what recent dental news item has swept through the news media — bib clip contamination. With titles such as “Gross out at the dentist,” and “Can we break the chain of germs at the dentist?” the issue has brought dental offices under scrutiny once again as being germ-infested places.
Many dental offices have already made the change to disposable bib clips. The rest of you, do it now! This is a real infection control risk with multiple scientific studies backing it up that may put your office at a liability risk. Your team cannot disinfect bib clips properly because of all the crevices and cracks in the holder and clasp. It basically costs you nothing to switch — disposable bib clips cost nearly the same as the disinfectant wipe or the sterilization pouch that you may use on a metal bib clip. Our office uses Bib-Eze (DUX Dental) and our team and patients would never use another bib clip.
Let’s face it; sometimes this kind of media exposure is a good thing. It pushes us to take a fresh look at our offices, and it’s a kick in the pants to remind us of what we should be doing better. You must stay connected to dental news in the media because it affects the way patients see our practices. Check www.dentistryiq.com for the latest dental and general news about dentistry. Let patients know about any changes that you have made before they ask you about what they saw on the Internet!
Dr. Louis Malcmacher is a practicing general dentist and internationally known lecturer, author, and dental consultant. An evaluator emeritus for CLINICIANS REPORT, Dr. Malcmacher is the president of the American Academy of Facial Esthetics at facialesthetics.org. Contact him at (440) 892-1810 or email drlouis@FacialEsthetics.org. His website is www.commonsensedentistry.com, where you can sign up for a free monthly e-newsletter.