Marketing to the “Untapped” Dental Patient Pool

Just to recap my last three posts, Gallup asked 178,000 Americans last year whether they visited the dentist in the previous 12 months as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. This mirrors a 2008 survey by Gallup.

They found:

  • 64.7 percent of Americans visited the dentist.
  • 67.2 percent of women and 62 percent of men saw a dentist.
  • There is a large racial divide between Asians and whites, and blacks and Latinos in going to the dentist.
  • The older you are, the more likely you are to see a dentist … until you hit 65, and then you drop significantly.
  • The more money you have, the more likely you are to see a dentist.
  • And married people are more likely to see the dentist than any other marital status, especially those who are separated.

So here are four ways you can use  this information to market to the “untapped” patients out there.

First, 35 percent of people aren’t seeing any dentist. You don’t have to convince them you are the RIGHT dentist. You have to convince them to GO to the dentist.

Market two things: dental fear and the overall health risks of not going to the dentist. Fear is the number one reason people don’t go to the dentist.

The Gallup poll noted that poor oral care can lead to many potential negative health outcomes. Recent medical research has indicated that poor oral health may be linked to both heart disease and stroke. Maternal periodontal disease, too, has been linked to preterm births, and may increase risks for other diseases such as diabetes.

Second, Hispanics are a growing market. The data shows that only 55 percent of Hispanics regularly see a dentist. BUT, and it’s a big but, that number increased 1.5 percent over 2008.

Hispanics comprise one of the few areas that saw growth among any of the ways Gallup sliced its data. Disposable income is increasing among the growing Latino population. Be the first in your area to capture this market.

Third, look at the age data. There is huge opportunity among young people. You may not get rich off of permanent teeth replacements, but you can set up a patient base for the next 30 years or more.

Look at ideas like free Wi-Fi in your waiting room and having a great mobile web presence. You also should have great social media exposure to maintain contact with those who become your patients.

Finally, market to couples. This demographic is the highest for going to the dentist, yet 30 percent did not go in the last year. Offer dual appointments so couples can come to see you at the same time.

On the other end of the spectrum, look to explain filing insurance or not using insurance at all to overcome the objections of separated couples who don’t want to hassle with using the estranged spouse’s policy.

One in three people in the U.S. is a potential new dental patient. Make sure you focus your marketing on the particular factors – age, race, marital status, income, and of course geographic location – that make the most sense for your practice.

Then, happily go fishing in this untapped new patient pool. I hope you catch your limit.




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About the author
Colin Receveur is a nationally recognized speaker, author, and dental web marketing expert who has pioneered the way dentists market themselves online for the past decade. Since incorporating in 2001, Colin has established a rock solid track record with his dentist clients and turned SmartBox into a stalwart of proven results for hundreds of dental practices.