What's the number one thing most "singles" want in a potential date? Nice teeth.
That—from an article in USA Today—is an awfully powerful piece of information. Think about this: what these singles want, you've got the power to provide!
Standing inside the jam-packed Exhibit Hall at this year's LAB DAY®, I thought about that article and how every product on display is focused on building the smiles of America.
I felt the magnificence of what we—as a community—contribute to a person's emotional well-being and I felt truly honored and proud to be a part of it. I wonder how often you, too, dwell on the importance and relevance of what you do.
In another survey—this one conducted for Listerine—USA Today reported that the number one makeover procedure adults want is cosmetic dentistry. Again, dentistry is in the limelight; comforting data at a time when some laboratories continue to see business remain flat or even decline. (See the results of LMT's How's Business? Survey Here.)
Clearly, one of the reasons to be optimistic about 2013 is that our community cares for the teeth of the world—and everyone needs them!
But here's something else to think about and, hopefully, to dwell on: there are 315 million people of all ages in America but about 100 million of them don't get dental care at all. While studies report a variety of reasons, including lack of interest in oral health care, access to affordable care is the key deterrent for most of these people. It's strange to me that teeth—which we need to chew and digest food—aren't always covered by insurance as medically necessary.
Last June, the Kaiser Family Foundation reported that—while children covered by Medicaid are covered for dental care—one in four children have untreated tooth decay (some die from this), and 25% of Medicare beneficiaries are missing all of their natural teeth, yet, unless it's tied to a medical procedure, Medicare offers seniors no dental coverage.
Additionally, low-income adults—disproportionately affected by tooth decay because of this lack of access to care, particularly in rural areas where there is a dental workforce shortage—receive limited Medicaid dental coverage and only a very small percentage of dentists will accept them as patients. After all, and I say this with mixed appreciation, dentistry is a business. But business is not always only all about money.
While able-paying patients may be holding off on their dental visits, there remain many more who have no choice at all. There is a whole lot of restorative work in America waiting to be done; it's just that much of it has no compensation attached. But I wonder if you might find that there's another kind of compensation you can generate by partnering as volunteers with some of your clients.
Our community has many volunteers, all of whom already know what a bonding experience it is, not just between the volunteers and those who are helped, but among the volunteers themselves.
In this month's Technicians on a Mission, LMT's ongoing series about volunteer efforts, Absolute Dental Lab Owners Conrad Rensburg and Drew Van Aarde describe the Absolute Care Foundation they created to give back to their local community and how their decision to do so came about.
Bottom line: Volunteering is desperately needed—"nice teeth" as you now know, are highly valued—and an extremely valuable way to connect with your clients.