The U.S. Bureau for Labor Statistics (BLS) expects the field of dentistry—orthodontics included—to grow by 8% between now and 2030. This fact hints at the potential for growth in the industry—growth that your practice can achieve.
But whether you’re a dental practice owner who recently added orthodontics or a longtime orthodontist looking to expand your business, you’ll quickly find out that growth doesn’t happen overnight. There are no secrets or hidden manuals on how to grow your orthodontic practice—it takes time and effort to attract new patients and maintain current relationships.
Fortunately, with some drive and a few helpful tips, you can slowly but surely grow your practice. Here’s how.
#1 Take Marketing Seriously
Of course, as a dentist, your primary concern is providing exceptional dental care. But if you had to choose a secondary focus, marketing is an excellent place to start. When it comes to attracting new patients to your dental practice, marketing is your friend. By experimenting with one or more dental marketing methods, you can reach new patients who may or may not be aware of your orthodontic practice.
When trying to spread the word, there are several routes you can take, including:
- Paid online marketing – Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a form of paid digital marketing that works well for first-time campaigns, as you only pay for your ads when someone clicks on them. Thanks to the volume of consumer data that platforms like Google and Meta have collected, it’s easier than ever to put your content in front of people that will click on it. Even running ads on YouTube, Google, Facebook, or Instagram could help you reach dozens of prospective patients at a relatively low cost.
- Social media marketing – Although social media can be a paid marketing tool, it also offers unpaid opportunities. It costs you nothing to create and update social media pages for your dental practice on every platform. Plus, according to a 2017 publication, 41% of consumers use social media to decide on a healthcare provider. If you’re not active on social media, you may be missing out on a sizable group of potential patients.
- Word of mouth – Encouraging your existing patients to speak positively about your practice is another way to draw in new clients. Aside from ensuring you provide a phenomenal patient experience, you can drive word-of-mouth recommendations by asking for online testimonials or setting up a referral program.
- Search engine optimization (SEO) – Patients also find you through your website—if they can find it at all. Dental SEO—the process that pushes your website higher in search engine rankings—can help to drive more traffic to your site. Strategies like including long-tail keywords and linking to reputable sources can increase visits.
If you struggle to find time in your busy schedule, you may want to look into hiring a marketing specialist (even if they’re only part-time). Having someone handle your advertising and social media presence allows you to focus on your practice.
#2 See More Patients By Upgrading Your Technology
If your marketing strategy works, you’ll start to see more and more clients come through your doors. But with a limited number of hours in a day, you can only see so many dental patients. Once you reach your limit, your growth might start to plateau.
Unless you can find a way to see more patients, that is.
Luckily, digital advancements in dentistry have made it possible to squeeze in more appointments in a day—without sacrificing the quality of care. Processes like taking impressions and waiting for them to set, which used to take the better part of an hour, can now be completed in minutes using an intraoral scanner. The sooner you can take a scan and send it to the dental lab, the sooner you can bring in your next patient.
If you do adopt innovations in new dental technology, like partnering with a digital dental lab such as Dandy, remember that updating your practice’s technology is a social-media-worthy event. Be sure to update your followers about these types of positive changes.
#3 Educate Your Clients
Being a dental professional is about more than correcting bites and helping create oral appliances. It’s also about education.
In general, you can grow your orthodontic practice by informing your patients about the importance of oral hygiene. When you instill the benefits of at-home and in-office dental care into your clientele, you can help patients recognize how essential your work is. As such, your patients may be more likely to book an appointment when they have a concern, rather than waiting for the problem to worsen.
Education can also encourage patients to follow through with necessary dental work. As a dentist, it’s your job to explain the benefits of an orthodontic solution. Rather than simply telling a patient they need a bridge, explain why they need it. Chances are they’ll be convinced to come in and have the work done.
#4 Increase the Number of Services You Offer
Another way to grow your orthodontic practice without opening a satellite office or hiring new staff is to expand your services. Becoming a one-stop shop for all things dentistry means that you can capture revenue from patients every step of the way.
When it comes to offering additional services, you have a few routes to take. First, you can leverage digital dentistry to do more in-house. For example, with an intraoral scanner, you can quickly and effortlessly make accurate impressions for:
You can also increase the number of people you can serve. For instance, you might specialize in posterior restoration or cosmetic orthodontic care. When you open yourself to a wider client base by catering to niche market segments, you increase your chances of booking more appointments.
#5 Be Flexible with Payment Options
Let’s face it: For many, dental work can be cost-prohibitive. In fact, dental care is the top medical service that Americans avoid due to the cost. But as a dental professional, you know more than anyone how important frequent visits are for overall health.
To help more people receive the care they deserve and continue to grow your practice, you can offer a variety of payment plans. Including a financing option allows you to serve patients who may have inadequate insurance coverage or can’t afford a lump sum payment.
Taking other payment methods can also help to ensure that no one is left out. Along with insurance coverage, consider accepting:
Partner with Dandy and Grow Your Orthodontic Practice
Growth may not happen overnight, but you can take steps to start growing your orthodontic practice today.
No matter how your practice grows, you’ll need to keep up with the rising demand of your expanding client base. With Dandy, serving more and more clients is a breeze.
Our digital dentistry platform can help you reduce chair time and ensure an accurate fit the first time, allowing you to see more patients in less time. Get started with Dandy today to find out more.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Outlook Handbook: Dentists. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/dentists.htm
National Center for Biotechnology Information. Social media usage among health care providers. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5708107/
The Guardian. ‘Your mouth becomes a minefield’: the Americans who can’t afford the dentist. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/may/04/americans-dental-dentist-teeth-health-insurance
Wordstream. Facebook Ads vs. Google Ads: Which Should You Be Using? https://www.wordstream.com/facebook-vs-google