Listen to your community

In my community, the press has reported about a difficult situation for many dental practices. Seems there is an over-supply and an under-demand for these services.

Of course, readers of this blog will know that this isn’t a phenomenon isolated to Toronto or Ontario. It is a trend evident in many communities and for many years.

What I find curious is the response by many dentists to an empty waiting room. The common answer seems to be to lower prices, add seemingly superficial services, and stay open longer.

One wonders why the dentist doesn’t ask what the community really wants, as it loses its insurance coverage and as it begins to pay (more) for other healthcare services such as going to the doctor or pharmaceuticals.

If the dentist did consult his patients about their preferences, the strategy for getting busier, would be entirely different. For example, let’s look at some patient survey data collected recently by dental practices in England. Chart 1 shows the value placed by adults sitting in the waiting room, on various dental services. Note the emphasis on health and prevention, and the comparative disinterest in conventional surgical dentistry.  Adult patients are driven more by their health than by their looks. That may be a surprise to many “smile centres” in dentistry, but we see this preference consistently in our on-going surveys.


Chart 2 reinforces this preference. The majority of adults who regularly purchase dental services are interested in learning about more preventive care offered by some (other) dental practices. Wow.


So, offering cheap whitening and a spa-like atmosphere such as reported by this Toronto newspaper article, is missing the mark about what the adult dental patient really wants. Indeed, these very strategies could be a “turn-off”, particularly when some other clinics called the Partners in Prevention do meet these strong preferences in the community.

Ross Perry
Source: Prevora Blog