One of the latest trends in dentistry is the focus on the oral-systemic connection and the impact of the patient's oral health on his overall health. "Periodontal disease produces an inflammatory burden on the body which can elevate risk factors for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer's and even certain cancers. Many physicians and dentists are starting to work more closely together to co-manage their patient's health problems," says Dr. Lee Ostler, Cofounder of OralSysteMix™ and a board member for the American Academy for Oral Systemic Health, which is leading the charge to elevate public and professional awareness of the oral-systemic connection.
Consequently, there is a new breed of dentist emerging, just in time to meet a growing demand for treatments that address the mouth-body health link. "More and more dentists are incorporating state-of-the-art treatments backed by strong scientific research that give the dental practice sound business applications and a leading-edge protocol to effectively treat their patients," says Dr. Ostler.
For example, dentists are conducting salivary diagnostic tests; these DNA tests can determine the cause of periodontal infections and alert the dentist to patients who are at an increased risk for severe periodontal infections and HPV-related oral cancers. Another example is the Perio Protect® Method™, an FDA-approved treatment tray that precisely delivers prescribed anti-microbial medicines to the site of the gum infection.
These advanced treatment methods and a more comprehensive health focus move a dental practice beyond the "traditional" and serve to differentiate it in the marketplace, increasing the perceived quality its patients experience. It's perfect timing given the demographics of an aging population that is increasingly adopting a healthy mindset, providing a valuable opportunity for both dentists and laboratories alike.
From a marketing perspective, the oral-systemic connection is to this millennium what cosmetic dentistry was to the '80s and '90s. Forward-thinking laboratories can tap into this trend by educating their dentist-clients about the practice-building potential of this developing science.
The Two Components of Quality
The dental practice is a service business, no different than a laboratory. Just as dentists are looking for a quality lab, consumers are looking for a quality dentist. So let's define quality; there are two components: conformance quality is the technical aspect of any business and perceived quality is the customer's perspective of the business. You build your laboratory on conformance quality but market the perceived quality.
Enterprising lab owners are recognizing that if they go beyond the traditional and expected "competitively priced, high quality restoration" to help their dentist-clients become more successful in their practices, they too will enhance their perceived quality and grow their laboratories.