The “Mythical” New Dental Patient: The Proof is Out There

Nearly 35 percent of Americans do not visit a dentist, according to a Gallup poll released last year. In 2013, Gallup asked 178,000 Americans 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.

Here’s what they found:

In 2013, 64.7 percent of Americans visited the dentist. That is 1 percent less, so statistically the same as in 2008.

The same holds true for women: 67.2 percent of women saw a dentist in 2013, compared to 67.8 in 2008.

Men, on the other hand, went to the dentist less often and dropped more compared to 2008. For 2013, 62 percent of men saw a dentist compared to 63.5 percent in 2008.

Of course, lots of factors contribute to these numbers.

For our purposes, we will say that the numbers have changed little in the last five years. So we’ll call that the status quo: 35 percent of people didn’t visit the dentist in a given year.

On the one hand, 65 percent of people are seeing a dentist. You need to figure out how to get more of them to come and see you.

But rather than poaching existing patients, with roughly 250 million adults in the U.S., those 35 percent who DIDN’T see a dentist in the last year are a pretty big group of prospects.

So if you’re not getting new patients, it’s not because they’re not out there.

It’s not because you are losing them to competitors.

It’s because no one has convinced them to choose seeing a dentist over doing nothing.

Over the next several posts, I’ll break down the composition of this untapped patient population by various demographics. Let’s get started.

Results by Race

According to Gallup’s results, there is a noticeable racial and ethnic divide about going to the dentist.

For instance, about 55 percent of both blacks and Hispanics went to the dentist in the last year. That number is up about 1.5 percent for Hispanics and DOWN 3 percent for blacks from 2008.

In 2013,  68.4 percent of whites went to the dentist, virtually unchanged from the 68.7 percent in 2008. Asians reported very similar numbers, with 69.6 going in 2013 and 70.3 percent going in 2008.

So what does this mean to you?

There is a huge opportunity among the Hispanic community, for one thing. Nearly half of all Latinos do not go to the dentist, but the number who do is trending upward.

There also is an opportunity to reverse the trend among African-Americans, where nearly half of the population did not see a dentist, and that number is declining.

So if you have large segments of either of these populations, you have opportunities to reach out to them.

As for the white and Asian populations, a good percentage are already going to the dentist. But three out of seven still did not see a dentist last year. That presents opportunities to talk about the importance of regular dental visits.

Thursday’s post will break down the results by two very important demographics – age and income.




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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.