The click of dentures

March 1, 2000
Dr. Tom was having trouble with dentures. Not his dentures - Tom has a full set of fine teeth. No, he was having trouble with his patients` dentures. Or, more specifically, the lack thereof!

The click of dentures

Paul Homoly, DDS

"Knock knock."

"Who`s there?"

"Turnaway."

"Turnaway who?"

"Do you have turnaway teeth in your practice?"

Dr. Tom was having trouble with dentures. Not his dentures - Tom has a full set of fine teeth. No, he was having trouble with his patients` dentures. Or, more specifically, the lack thereof!

"I just don`t see many patients who need rehabilitations," Tom was telling me. "I can`t sell them if they don`t walk in the door."

Tom is about 30 years old with a busy general practice. He does a lot of cosmetic dentistry and traditional fixed prosthetics, restoring one to three teeth at a time. He wants to expand his practice into rehabilitative care, but he seems to be stuck doing smaller cases.

"How may full dentures did you make last year?" I asked.

"Very few; probably less than five," he responded.

"Your problem is that you have too many patients with teeth in your practice," I told him. "Too many teeth can interfere with practice growth." Tom laughed, but stopped after he realized I wasn`t kidding.

"Tom, if you want to do more rehabilitative care, you must do two things. First, you need to age your patient base by one or two decades. Next, you need to attract the partially and fully edentulous patient to your practice. It`s like being in the car repair business. Would you do more work by focusing on new cars or old cars? Old cars, obviously! Tom, you need more `old cars` in your practice," I said.

Like many dentists, Tom is caught in the generation gap - the gap between him and the patients he wants to treat. Tom`s generation and that of most of his patients are too young to support a rehabilitative dentistry practice.

A predictable way to attract patients who are at least 50 years old and need complex restorative care is to market to the full-denture patient. There are some solid reasons why marketing to full-denture patients is great for your restorative and cosmetic practice.

First, when you market to fully edentulous patients, they respond well to your messages. Unlike a 30-year-old with a missing first molar, the older, totally edentulous patient is more profoundly affected by his or her dental condition. It affects this patient`s health, appearance, and self- confidence. Because full-denture patients are aware of the problem every moment, they respond well to your marketing messages.

Secondly, marketing to full-denture patients will attract other patients who need a wide variety of dentistry - i.e., cosmetic care, dental implants, crown and bridge, periodontics, or oral surgery. I marketed to the fully edentulous patient for 20 years. In the process of targeting the fully edentulous patient, I also attracted patients who needed cosmetic care and crown and bridge, which kept my full-time associate very busy and happy.

Third, older patients are willing to spend money on their dental health. There is an unmistakable passage we all experience when we realize we`re growing older. A full denture is the icon of old age. Many older patients have the money and are willing to spend what it takes to postpone the emotional tolls of the aging process.

Reach out to older patients. They are the ones who are ready for your care. Dentures can make your restorative and cosmetic practice click!

Want some great tips on attracting older patients? Fax your letterhead to (704) 377-1133 and ask for "Tips to Attract Older Patients." We`ll fax them back to you at no charge!

Dr. Homoly is author of Dentists: An Endangered Species - A Survival Guide for Fee-for-Service Care. He has practiced restorative dentistry for 20 years. He has helped thousands of dentists implement reconstructive dentistry through his hundreds of continuing-education workshops and seminars. Dr. Homoly can be reached at (704) 342-4900 or via e-mail at [email protected]. Visit his Web site at www.paulhomoly.com.

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