AGD looks at dental marketing

Dentists convey specialties, new equipment, and procedures to a more educated patient group

Marketing, branding and advertising are essential to the survival of any business. As small business owners, dentists rely on a wide variety of marketing techniques to inform the public about oral care, promote their practice and draw in new customers. Whether a dentist uses radio announcements, television advertisements or just relies on word-of-mouth to bring new patients into their offices, marketing is often necessary for dentists to be successful in an increasingly competitive profession. The March issue of AGD Impact, the newsmagazine for the Academy of General Academy (AGD), examines the reasons for, and effectiveness of, some of those marketing methods.

One of the factors causing an increase in competition between dentists is an increase in the demand for cosmetic or esthetic dentistry. Shows such as The Swan or Extreme Makeover have piqued viewer interest for whiter and brighter smiles.

Dentists providing these services are often general dentists who, according to Eric Curtis, DDS, MAGD, "may want to develop a practice niche, concentrating treatment efforts on esthetic procedures, or implants, or even removable prosthodontics." Advertising makes patients aware that these options are available in their offices.

Advances in dental technology have changed and improved not only how dentists practice, but how they market to their patients. New advances, such as lasers for innovative procedures, intraoral cameras and other special equipment are not found in every dental office. Dentists want to ensure patients that they are well versed in the latest techniques and aware of the best, and least invasive, way to care for their oral health.

There are many avenues available for dentists wanting to adopt a marketing strategy. Public service announcements on radio and television can be used to educate the public about oral health, Yellow Pages ads (the most common marketing strategy) provide prospective patients with a way to locate and contact nearby offices; however, according to Craig Valentine, DDS, patient referrals are the most effective way to bring in new patients, and they're free. He asks "patients to refer their friends to [him]," and says, "The most generous form of marketing and the most sincere thing we do is ask for referrals. I've been in practice for 30 years and I'm still asking for new patients."

The AGD helps members receive referrals by sponsoring a toll-free service for consumers. By calling 1.877.2X.A.YEAR (1.877.292.9327) consumers can get the names, addresses and phone numbers for up to three dentists from anywhere in the United States and Canada. Consumers also can search online at, by clicking on "Find an AGD dentist." The AGD does not charge dentists for their listing, however they must hold membership and meet AGD's continuing education requirements.

The AGD is a non-profit organization of more than 37,000 general dentists dedicated to staying up-to-date in the profession through continuing education. A general dentist is the primary care provider for patients of all ages and is responsible for the diagnosis, treatment, management and overall coordination of services related to a patient's oral health.

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