What Dental Patients Want in 2022
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that openings for dentists will increase at least 8% from now until 2030. However, the demand for dentists in the U.S. is expected to rise 17% over the next six years. This demand is fueled by the increasing popularity of clear aligners, lingual braces, and self-ligating braces for correcting mild to moderate malocclusions.
As more people become aware of advanced dental technologies, they want to benefit from those technologies and especially desire to have more comfortable, stress-free office visits with empathetic dentists they can trust.
How exactly can dentists exceed patient expectations in 2022? The best way to accomplish this is to initially focus on improving the patient-dentist communication process.
Improving Patient-Dentist Communication
Ensuring patients are given one-on-one information about complex dental procedures is essential for building patient trust. Therefore, dentists should provide step-by-step explanations, show example videos of specific procedures, and discuss alternative treatment options, if available.
Other methods that help streamline patient-dentist communication include:
- Developing an app for your practice with features allowing patients to ask questions in real-time, inform staff of side effects after a procedure, and make or cancel appointments. In addition, secured apps can send reminder alerts when the appointment is 24 hours away and notify patients of test results.
- Ensuring the patient has no further questions or concerns before ending the appointment. Dentists should provide enough time between appointments for patients to talk about their concerns and oral health goals. This is typically a leading complaint of dental patients who feel like they are being “herded” through the dental office.
Dentists should always conclude an appointment by addressing the patient face to face, confirming that the patient understands their treatment plan, and walking with the patient to the waiting room whenever possible.
Make the dental office experience as stress-free and convenient as possible.
Weekend appointment availability is essential to double-income families and single parents who can’t afford to take time off work. In addition, having several staff members who are proficient in filling out and submitting dental insurance forms is also a welcome convenience for patients.
Dealing with dentophobic patients starts with assembling a dedicated, friendly staff responsible for giving patients a great first impression of the practice. Staff should be trained to help fearful patients feel calm in the waiting room before their actual appointments.
Another convenience dental patients want in 2022 is the option to access teledentistry services for consultations, emergency advice, diagnostic appointments, and patient education.
Communication Software Platforms
The American Orthodontic Society urges dentists to consider cloud-based software platforms to securely manage patient data through one interface. While apps work to streamline dentist-patient communications, software platforms are expansive and encrypted to prevent the hacking of patient information.
In addition to simplifying appointment scheduling and sending appointment reminders, dental software platforms like Solutionreach, Weave, and Demandforce offer contactless payment portals, two-way chat, and electronic signing of documents.
Communication Through Social Media Sites
Millions of people rely on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter to get answers to questions about a dental practice’s hours, costs, and services. Unfortunately, when somebody posts a question on a dental social media account and doesn’t get a response within 30 minutes, they typically assume that the practice doesn’t really care about patient concerns or requests.
Managing multiple social media accounts is a time-consuming task. Handing that task over to a professional social media marketing company is recommended for busy dentists who want to work on attracting and retaining patients in 2022. These companies also write SEO-optimized blogs for dental websites and social media accounts to maximize exposure and increase visibility in search results.
Augmented Reality (AR) in Orthodontics
When the Pokemon Go game launched in 2016, it gave people an easy-to-understand definition of augmented reality. While viewing the real world around them through the game app, users could immerse themselves in a digitally enhanced environment populated by Pokemon.
Orthodontic AR is similar to Pokemon Go. Orthodontic patients can now utilize AR to see detailed video images of the movement of their teeth during and after treatment. For example, orthodontic AR will upload a picture of the patient’s face into the augmented-reality interface if a patient needs braces to correct an overbite.
Then, AR will show how their teeth will move, approximate dates of teeth movement, and the final appearance of the patient’s smile. Augmented reality is also a great way to encourage treatment compliance with children and teenagers who are usually not thrilled about wearing braces.
What else are dental patients looking for in 2022?
Orthodontics has rapidly developed into one of the most up-and-coming medical fields since the millennial boom of the late 1980s. Millennials are, as a rule, much more interested in a stunning smile than prior generations. Also, more than a million millennials join the ranks of moms every year. So the future of orthodontics is not only rising rapidly, but millennial moms will soon be flocking to dentists, looking for orthodontic care for their children.
Although older adults remain a general dental practice’s primary patient base, the orthodontic industry is seeing substantial increases in patient numbers that are likely indicative of a sustained trend in the future of orthodontics.
Dentists interested in learning more about orthodontics will find our continuing education courses easily adaptable to their busy schedules. Outstanding instructors provide these hands-on courses, follow up with those who attend classes, and take the time to answer all your questions. Call today for more information.
To learn more about our popular orthodontics courses for pediatric and general dentists, check out one of the upcoming events below.