It’s time to rethink what you know about mobile dentistry

Oct. 15, 2019
Mobile dentistry has become more mainstream and accepted, and it might be right to help your practice expand. Melissa Turner, RDHEP, believes in the power of mobile dentistry and wants to share its advantages with her peers.

It’s time for dentists to throw out their preconceived notions of the mobile dentistry delivery model and imagine how their practices can benefit by adding it. Our dental colleagues in public health pioneered the mobile dentistry movement and have proven that bringing services to patients can be a successful way to reach untapped patient populations.

But why should you rethink mobile dentistry? Recent shifts in consumer mindsets means people are prioritizing convenience when making decisions. Cutting-edge technology and reliance on mobile devices mean consumers accept and even expect all things mobile. The bottom line for the dental industry is this—dental practices that aren't reaching patients through mobile devices or mobile services may soon find it difficult to communicate with them.

Imagine this scenario

Every Tuesday one of your dental hygienists packs up a few supplies and a portable dental unit. She travels down the street and sets up her operatory in the conference room of a local university. After providing assessments, hygiene therapy, intraoral photos, and radiographs, she schedules each patient to visit your fixed practice to follow up with any restorative needs. Since you now have an op available on Tuesdays, you can hire a part-time dentist or specialist to complete additional treatments.

A few benefits to consider

Adds new revenue stream—How many times have you tried to increase your revenue and in how many different ways? Mobile delivery is an easy and dependable way to interact with your community and expand your practice reach beyond your four fixed walls.

Increases marketing, new patients, and referrals—Adding a mobile arm to your practice enables you to market and reach new patients in your area while funneling outstanding treatment to your fixed practice. An added bonus? Since you choose where to send the mobile provider, you can target the type of patients you’d like to have join your practice.

Provides flexibility and adaptability—Mobile delivery is flexible and adaptable in ways you can make it work for you. You can begin with one or multiple providers and choose which procedures you want to offer, as well as your delivery style, frequency, and service site.

Expands your practice—Expanding a dental practice has traditionally meant adding evening and weekend hours or building an entirely new physical office. With mobile delivery, you can add more provider hours and ops to your business without the hassle of extending the workweek, and without the costly fees of increasing the size of your office.

Has minimal startup cost—Though mobile dentistry sometimes involves vans, trailers, or pods, using portable dental units can be just as effective and mean less startup and maintenance costs. Though there may be more physical labor involved in setting up a portable op than a dental van, using portable dental units is a great first step toward your mobile journey.

Is mobile dentistry right for you?

To find out if mobile dentistry is right for you, your team, and your patients, you must study your state dental practice act for regulations regarding mobile services, supervision, scope, and teledentistry. Once you have an understanding of your state requirements, talk with others who are experienced in the mobile delivery model. An easy way to do this is to attend the first annual National Mobile Dentistry Conference, which will be February 28‑29 in Orlando, Florida.

This event will bring together mobile pioneers, industry leaders, and experts from both for-profit and nonprofit organizations. Course topics include mobile dentistry 101, teledentistry, how to make a profit with mobile services, what to look for when choosing and designing portable and mobile units, and more. For more information, visit nmdconference.com

Thanks to new technology and shifts in consumers’ mindsets, it has never been easier to imagine what mobile dentistry can do for you.

Melissa Turner, BASDH, RDHEP, EFDA, is a valued thought leader and advisor in the industry. Cofounder of the first annual National Mobile Dentistry Conference on February 28-29, 2020, she is the creator of I Heart Mobile Dentistry, a Facebook support group for clinicians practicing mobile dentistry. Turner is executive moderator for the Dental Peeps Network and can be reached at [email protected].