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July 1, 2022

Words Matter in the Dental Practice

Mike McCarthy, vTail's CMO, and lifelong advocate of the dental profession, shares his views.

To All Dental Clinicians – STOP SELLING YOURSELVES and YOUR PRACTICE SHORT. After 25 years of performing dental market research with with over 30,000 interviews, I have learned one thing that is for certain – there is an esteem problem amongst dental clinicians. Your patients and the community you work in needs to know the level of education and training you have as a healthcare professional…and sometimes a first-line healthcare professional.

Bad branding of the profession(s) by Hollywood and Salary Surveys over the past 5 decades has led to wrongly formed opinions of the profession.

Go on ANY social media portal today and search the word(s) DENTIST or ROOT CANAL – you will not read warm, fuzzy stories – on the contrary you will read horror stories of the anticipated pain of a root canal or complaints about the price of a dental cleaning. You will read how people would rather eat glass than experience dental treatment.

Movies, like The Hangover, portray dentists as some sort of second class physician…”You are not a REAL doctor, you are a dentist.”

General belief is that Registered Dental Hygienists only have a two-year college education – NOT a 4 year BS which dominates the field today…let along many obtain their masters or doctorate degrees.

Dental Assistants can’t be certified…can they? They only have on-the-job training. And for 80 years the female in LIFE Magazine’s, Arthur Eisenstadt’s famous V-J kiss photo has been misrepresented as a nurse…when in fact it is Greta Friedman, a Dental Assistant who resided in Queens.

There is not other healthcare profession where patients feel privileged to negotiate the cost of their treatment or complain about it openly: “Can you do 10 veneers for this price?”, “Now I know why this implant is so expensive, I’m paying for that education of yours…or that Tesla of yours parked out front”. I have seen and heard this time after time, decade after decade.

So how do you win your rightful place back at the Healthcare Practitioner’s table?…start with simple messaging.

When giving a treatment plan or any clinical advice – start with your profession. “As your DOCTOR, I am recommending you take this course of antibiotic therapy.” “As your Registered Dental Hygienist, I recommend you brush effectively and make sure to get under and around your gums to mitigate disease which could lead to other systemic health problems.” “As your Certified Dental Assistant, I am putting this protective shield on you to protect you from any possible effects during your radiographic imaging – and our digital radiographic equipment produces XXXX% less exposure than traditional x-rays.

Another effective but passive way to showcase your teams’ education is frame, hang and display your credentials. Frame your CE certificates. Keep your name badges visible from CE courses and conferences – subtly say to your patients – my learning is continuous and current and you will benefit from what I learn.

The change will not happen overnight – but it will happen. You are all well-trained and extensively educated professionals – wear your titles with pride – scream them to the world – tell everyone…at the very least, you deserve it…you’ve definitely earned it.

vTail Healthcare Telecommunications Limited is a company registered with limited liability in England under registration number 12646131 and having its registered office address at 264 Banbury Road, Summertown, Oxford OX2 7DY, England, United Kingdom.