AIM Dental Marketing

AIM Marketing

Are you ready for the next wave in dentistry?

The history of the public’s perception of dentistry may be viewed as consisting of three waves. I like to describe the first wave with the term “Feel Well Dentistry.”  During this wave, dentists were perceived as first and foremost who to call to get you out of tooth pain. 

The history of the public’s perception of dentistry may be viewed as consisting of three waves. I like to describe the first wave with the term “Feel Well Dentistry.”  During this wave, dentists were perceived as first and foremost who to call to get you out of tooth pain.

The next wave, spearheaded largely by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), is “Look Well Dentistry,” where the public began to perceive the dentist as able to improve one’s appearance, as well as alleviate pain.

The third, latest, wave is “Be Well Dentistry,” that is, a commitment to overall health and wellness, which entails eliminating the false distinction between oral and systemic health that persists in the minds of the public, as well as many dental and medical professionals. When all people come to rightly view the dentist as an oral physician, offering the ability to diagnose, treat and prevent systemic illnesses, collaborative care is fostered, and “Be Well Dentistry” is born.

It is not a question of whether, but when this becomes reality.  In fact, the general public has already begun to move in this direction, as evidenced by television programs like Dr. Oz featuring such topics as  Can good oral health save your life?

Let’s get organized?

In October of 2010 an organization was founded in Madison, Wisconsin by Dr. Chris Kammer, whose  father Jack founded the AACD in that same city and which has, since 1984 grown to be an internationally recognized organization of over 7,000 Members.  It is the American Academy for Oral Systemic Health (AAOSH), and it promises to do even more for “Be Well Dentistry” than the AACD is doing for “Look Well Dentistry.”

As its Mission on their website reveals AAOSH is:

…a network of dedicated health care leaders working to change professional ?and public behaviors, and address the importance of oral health as it relates ?to whole body health…AAOSH will bridge the gaps among all health care pro-?fessionals through unprecedented cooperation across all disciplines…based ?on sound research principles. We are passionate about elevating the quality ?of health care, and will work to communicate the mouth-body health link, ?so people worldwide can live healthier, longer and happier lives.

The formation of this organization could not have come at a better time.  Research continues to unequivocally demonstrate connections between the health of the mouth and that of the body, as do plain old common sense.

Do Well By Doing Good?

Those of you who are familiar with Climb For A Cause and The Smile Tree know we tend to use the above adage, attributable to Ben Franklin, quite a bit. It’s basically a corollary to Adam Smith’s ‘invisible hand’, which holds that people tend to do the most good for society as a whole when pursuing their own interests. “Win-Win” conveys a similar sentiment.  We mention it here because offering “Be Well Dentistry” affords you the opportunity to grow your practice while simultaneously helping more patients in more ways, which is a quintessential  example of doing well by doing good (those interested in a more comprehensive treatment of this important topic are invited to visit the Climb For A Cause website, or read Joe Blaes’ article on dental cause marketing).

Having Isn’t Knowing?

Once a practice has committed to learn about, acquire, and offer products and services to help patients and their community lead longer, healthier, and happier lives, it must also determine how to best ‘get the word out’, in other words, conceive and implement a “Be Well Dentistry Marketing Plan.”

The first requirement, as with any marketing tactic, is to effectively translate and package the benefits offered given audiences in ways that first create awareness, generate interest, creates desire, and ultimately, induce action.

Your Three-Pronged Plan

Armed with the ability to truly differentiate your practice, and offer the above-referenced win-win situation, you are ready to conceive and implement your three-pronged marketing plan to build your Be Well dental practice.  The three prongs of you plan are: Physician Referral, Patient Marketing, and Hyper Targeted External Marketing.

Your Physician Referral Strategy

Be Well Dentistry represents one of the best opportunities to collaborate with medical professionals including cardiologists, internists, obstetricians, sleep disorder and diabetes specialists, and, as more manifestations of the oral systemic link become known, this list will grow.  It is all about opening those doors of communication and offering assistance to your colleagues in allied medical fields to improve the health and longevity of the patients they serve by collaborating with you.

Your first step is to acquire your contact (email, mail, and telephone) list, the composition of which depends on which specialists to target which, in turn, depends on what you offer. Another factor in compiling your contact list is geographic proximity. The more convenient it is for a potential referral source’s patients to visit you, the more likely they will. The list may be acquired manually, that is, by referring to printed and online directories, or it may be acquired through a list compiler.

Once you’ve acquired your contact list, the next step is to select your communication channels e.g. email, direct mail, website optimization, social media, etc., and then craft your messages and offers for maximum impact.  In most cases, you’ll want to create one or more landing pages on your website to which prospective and current referral sources may learn about your referral program and patient handling protocol.

Your Internal Marketing Strategy?

You will, of course, want to be sure your internal communications effectively convey to your patients, most of whom will need to be made aware of, these valuable additions to your service offerings.

Communicating with your patients of record, who may not yet know (or care) about the fact you practice “Be Well Dentistry” requires a nuanced approached.  This is because people naturally are resistant to and skeptical of change, even change that is good for them.  So resist the urge to come at your patients like the proverbial bull in the china closet, opting instead to gently communicate over time your transformation to a Be Well Dentistry practice. Email ‘drip marketing’ campaigns, open houses, complimentary screenings involving medical professionals in your referral network (see above), are all good ways to share your commitment to overall health and wellness with your patients

Your ‘Hyper-Targeted’ External Marketing Strategy

?Targeting people known to have, or likely to be at risk for, such systemic conditions as diabetes, heart disease, various types of cancer, sleep disorder, and more is now possible thanks to the availability of compiled list and ‘pay per click’ ads using social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

As with your current patients, it remains important, however, to ‘run the race at the new patient’s pace.’ In other words, not every person you reach will be ready for Be Well Dentistry.  We believe that your communications should also be inviting to those patients, so you will have the opportunity to meet their immediate needs, as well as help them along the path to embracing Be Well Dentistry.

It is, of course, your choice how you wish to brand your practice.  We’ve just found that, by ‘speaking the patient’s language’, and offering choices with which they are comfortable, your practice can actually help move your new (and current) patients from Feel Well and Look Well Dentistry into Be Well Dentistry, which is of course, where everyone deserves to be.

 

Daniel Bobrow, MBA, is president of the American Dental Marketing Company, a dentistry marketing and patient communications consultancy. He is also Executive Director of Dentists’ Climb for a Cause™. Readers interested in learning more about integrated marketing and patient communication products, systems and services are invited to contact Mr. Bobrow at 312-455-9488 or DBobrow@AmericanDentalMarketing.com or visit AmericanDentalMarketing.com.

AIM MarketingAre you ready for the next wave in dentistry?
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Principles of effective direct mail, Part II

In our last Issue, we introduced and discussed the components of a successful direct mail campaign, included a Planning Checklist, and shared some of the more profitable target audiences, going into some detail about the pros and cons of targeting new residents.

In our last Issue, we introduced and discussed the components of a successful direct mail campaign, included a Planning Checklist, and shared some of the more profitable target audiences, going into some detail about the pros and cons of targeting new residents.

Now, let’s talk about the more promising, and therefore, exciting, target audience, namely, demographically selected segments of the current population. Other ’boutique audiences,’ such as brides to be, employees where they work, and persons with specific medical conditions [see my article on integrative dentistry], will be covered in a future  Issue.

The times when only highly capitalized firms could afford to employ sophisticated marketing research and implementation technologies are thankfully behind us. The advent of the Internet, and the ability of companies like ADM to ‘bundle orders’ means any dental practice can, for a reasonable investment, have access to precision targeting, list acquisition, mailer design, print, fulfillment, and tracking services.

A Laser Beats A Shot Gun Every Time, Especially When It Saves Money! ?

For many years, we’ve advocated targeting at the carrier route, as opposed to zip code, level. A carrier route is a series of physically contiguous addresses used by the postal carrier to efficiently deliver the mail. It is, quite simply, and as the name implies, the mail carrier’s route. Targeting carrier routes has two distinct advantages over mailing to entire zip codes. First, it permits the practice to be far more precise in identifying, and connecting with, only those households that are a ‘fit’ both in geographic and demographic terms, for the practice. Convenience continues to be the number one factor in someone’s decision to visit a dental office for the first time, so it is nearly always a waste of valuable resources when a practice is constrained by targeting entire zip codes, instead of only those portions of zip codes that are a fit for the practice.

Second, because targeting at the carrier route level allows a competent fulfillment house to do much of the work for the Post Office (by sorting and bundling the mail), the per piece postage rate can be as little as half that of mailing to all (or even part) of a zip code. Because postage often accounts for more than half of the cost of a mailing tactic, the savings really add up.

Design, Copy, and Offer(s) That Speak To Your Audience?

In designing your mailer copy, selecting graphics, and choosing your offer(s), place yourself in the shoes of your intended audience. The mailer must ‘speak’ to them, that is, get them first to identify with the message, by answering the question “Is this (about) me?” in the affirmative. This requires that the imagery, be it a photograph or illustration, represents a person, group, or lifestyle to which your audience can relate. The offer should be likewise appealing to them.

What’s the Frequency (and interval) Kenneth*?

?As any good marketer will tell you, once is never enough, that is, repeat exposure of your memorable and compelling message is necessary to break through your audience’s protective barriers (if this does not yet resonate with you, ask how many times you see the same television commercial before you even know what they’re promoting, and I think it will). Our experience dictates a minimum of three, and as many as twelve, identical, or highly similar, mailings to the same person wtihin a twelve month period to be optimum. We typically recommend and A, A/B, or A/B/C program, defined as follows:

‘A’ Program: mailing to the same Group each month for 12 consecutive months (total ?of twelve mailers per Audience Member)

‘A/B’ Program: divide audience in half and mailing to each Group in alternating months (total of ?six mailers per Audience Member)

‘A/B/C/’ Program: divide audience into thirds and mail to each group every third month (total of four mailers per Audience Member)

The decision as to which approach to employ most often is made on budgetary considerations, but sometimes also on the volume of new patient inquiries the practice feels is can effectively handle over a given month (capacity).

*For more on this reference click here.

Issue III will delve into tracking, evaluation, and sound decision making with respect to dental direct mail strategy.

AIM MarketingPrinciples of effective direct mail, Part II
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Principles of effective direct mail, Part I

Direct mail marketing has long been an accepted means for image-consciously, yet cost-effectively promoting ones practice. Its popularity lies in the fact that it offers a focused and controlled method for sharing information about your practice with selected members of your community. Properly implemented, direct mail marketing can mean a steady inflow of new patients, which, by adding to your existing patient base, also increases the success of your internal marketing efforts.

 

Direct mail marketing has long been an accepted means for image-consciously, yet cost-effectively promoting ones practice. Its popularity lies in the fact that it offers a focused and controlled method for sharing information about your practice with selected members of your community. Properly implemented, direct mail marketing can mean a steady inflow of new patients, which, by adding to your existing patient base, also increases the success of your internal marketing efforts.

There are a number of audiences to consider reaching with direct mail to grow your practice. These include: new residents, existing residents, Brides-to-Be, families with children, business leaders, employees, and more. Effectively marketing to these different audiences requires an understanding of the kind of services they find appealing. For example, if you want to increase your hygiene production, promote cleanings and preventive dentistry to New and Existing Residents. If you want to increase the number of patients choosing cosmetic procedures, market to the Brides to Be in your area promoting the idea of having “…that perfect smile for your special day.”
As with any marketing program, success at direct mail requires that each program element be performed correctly. To help you with this, we offer below a Direct Mail Program Checklist. Using this Checklist will assist you in identifying and tracking the performance of each element of your direct mail program.

Of the many different audiences for direct mail marketing, the one group which shows the highest percentage response rate is New Residents. The general appeal in targeting new residents stems from the fact that people who move a sufficient distance will likely want a new dentist for themselves and their family. Since all practices lose patients when people move out of town, this is an opportunity to “turn a negative into a positive” by targeting this continually renewing source of new patients. However, a practice desiring to do more than simply stem attrition will want to do more than simply market to new residents.

Issues 2 and 3 will delve into more aggressive practice growth techniques

AIM MarketingPrinciples of effective direct mail, Part I
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Marketing Insider: On the Importance of Fixing It Even If It Ain’t Broke.

Marketing Insider: On the Importance of Fixing It Even If It Ain’t Broke.

If you think your current level of attention to the needs of your patients, both current and prospective is ‘good enough,’ think again.

In his book Good To Great, author Jim Collins explains that “Good is the enemy of great.” It is all too easy for us to grow complacent with things that seem ‘good enough.’ The consequences of this can range from a loss of market share to business failure. This has always been true, but never more so than it is today. Why? Because technology advances at an ever increasing rate, which means the period of time from ‘new and different’ to ‘old and boring’ shrinks with each passing year.

This is not to say that such mainstays as valuable customer service and attention to the needs of your patients are no longer important. On the contrary, they are more important than ever. That’s because a consequence of this increased rate of technological advance is a higher standard of care when it comes to “customer service.” In other words, if you think your current level of attention to the needs of your patients, both current and prospective is ‘good enough,’ think again.

Another way to help ensure practice growth is to increase your willingness and ability to understand what motivates members of the demographic group known as Generation Y, and adapt your communications and compensation accordingly. This group, raised on the Internet, is better educated, less brand loyal and more focused on quality and speed of delivery. This spells both opportunity and challenge for your team management and motivation skills.

Our company is committed to what we term “I.C.A.N.” that is, Improvement that’s Continuous And Never-ending. A poignant example of this is in our work with social media for dentists. At this time, ‘the rules of the game’ and what constitutes an optimum social media presence are changing at an astounding rate. Case In Point: I was invited in September, 2010 to make a presentation to a group 4 months later on social media strategies and nearly drove myself crazy reworking the presentation to ensure it was ‘current.’

While the pace of change required to remain in the vanguard of dental patient service may not be quite that great, I do suggest as a worthwhile investment of time adding a “What’s New” section to your team meetings. You and your team then have an opportunity to share updates and suggestions on how to improve the patient experience in your practice. And do not think that, once you’ve implemented a change, you are stuck with it. Experimentation is a key ingredient of improvement and that elusive goal called perfection. Just be sure to give each (hoped for) enhancement a fair chance to demonstrate its value. If ninety nine people love it, and one doesn’t, remember not to set or change policy on the exception, but rather, on the rule.

Lead or Be Left Behind


What this means for your practice is to be ever on the lookout for better ways of doing and packaging what you do. You need not be an ‘early adopter’ of technology. From your patient’s perspective, offering the ‘latest and greatest’ will probably not warrant the premium price you are likely to pay, as well as the ‘growing pains’ you’ll likely encounter, by being by the first to adopt a new technology. But you can and should keep yourself apprised of shifts in the preferences of your target audience(s). For example, are you communicating with current and prospective patients in ways in which they wish to be communicated? Is your service offering consistent with what patients value?

On the ‘back office’ side, are you learning about ways to reduce your cost of practice while maintaining high standards and perceptions of quality? Submission of online dental patient forms is an excellent way to simultaneously reduce the time and effort involved with enrolling new patients while providing a valuable benefit to your patients.

How To Know

One of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to keep up with what your patients want is through the use of surveys. These can be mailed or distributed by your team to your patients, but why not save time and money, while simultaneously offering another technology-based convenience to your patients, namely, emailed and online patient surveys?

AIM MarketingMarketing Insider: On the Importance of Fixing It Even If It Ain’t Broke.
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Dental Hygienists play a key role in delivering Third Era patient care

Dental Hygienists play a key role in delivering Third Era patient care

By Charles Whitney, MD and Daniel A. ‘Danny’ Bobrow, MBA

Dental hygienists are uniquely positioned to improve the health of America. Physicians (as well as dentists) need your help! Here’s a program that’s proven to improve, not only the health of patients, but also the financial health of your practice.

Periodontal infection, whether or not inflammation is present, has been associated with many systemic diseases including diabetes, heart attack, stroke, stillbirth, preterm labor, and high blood pressure. Until insulin resistance is addressed and treated, it is difficult to eradicate this infection.

Insulin resistance raises blood sugar and, eventually, causes diabetes. Evidence suggests that a skilled hygienist can administer expert therapy and yet, unless glucose metabolism is normalized, be unable to eliminate infection and inflammation.

Dietary and other health choices leading to obesity and pre-obesity are the main causes of most insulin resistance. In fact, they are the mother and father of many preventable systemic diseases.

The obesity epidemic is the reason the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) predicts that our children’s generation will have a shorter life expectancy than our own!

Curing obesity can cure insulin resistance and prevent diabetes. Doing so also leads to greater success with eradicating periodontal infection and inflammation.

Physicians continue, by and large, to react to diseases by prescribing medication for high blood pressure, hypertension, and diabetes. Once a person is diagnosed with diabetes, many have already lost up to 50% of their insulin producing beta cells.

The medical community remains ineffective at treating insulin resistance because most physicians lack the time and ability to effectively treat obesity. 79% of primary care physicians have never been trained to counsel a patient about obesity. We simply tell them to eat less and move more. Of equal concern, the ‘O word’ has become a taboo subject to broach with many patients.

Fortunately, it is a simple matter to acquire the verbal skills to incorporate this conversation into your patient treatment protocol.

The Third Era of Medicine

The first era of medicine ended when we effectively controlled infectious diseases with antibiotics, immunizations, and improved public health.

Regrettably, most in the medical profession remain trapped in the second era of medicine, where the focus remains on reacting to disease, and only after end-stage symptoms (ranging from bleeding on probing to a cardiac event) has already manifested.

This second era approach in the presence of the disease-causing obesity epidemic is literally bankrupting our health care system, and bankrupting our economy!

It is incumbent upon all health professionals to move into the third era of medicine where the focus is on creating health, not just reacting to poor health. Curing obesity and teaching our patients the habits of health to maintain a healthy weight, leads to a happy and appreciative patient, and one who not only makes a positive contribution to the productivity of our society, serves as a ‘walking billboard’ for the practice that helped them succeed at achieving optimal health.

Create a Third Era Dental Practice

We are all health professionals. Accordingly, we ought to treat the whole person, not just a designated body part! A passionate dental hygienist is positioned perfectly to be the point person to champion this third era oral-systemic practice mindset, to the benefit of your patients, your practice, and society.

An effective oral-systemic practice need not be a financial loss leader. On the contrary, it can create a healthy revenue stream for all involved by offering a professional coaching service to those of your patients, as well as prospective patients, who want to create health in their lives.

In November 2011 the New England Journal of Medicine published a study showing that, when a person possesses both a learning tool for achieving a healthy lifestyle and a health coach to work with and support them, they are significantly more likely to maintain long-term weight loss than those provided with only the learning tool. Yet, even with the benefit of a coach, those patients with class II obesity were only able to lose an average of 10 pounds after two years.

Dr. Wayne Andersen intuitively understood this information 12 years ago when he left a lucrative job at the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic. He created an effective coaching, and best in class learning system he calls The Habits of Health. He knew studies showed that people who use a portion controlled meal replacement (PCMR) program succeeded at losing weight. However, 85% of these people regained the weight they lost because they returned to the habits of disease that led to their original weight gain.

Dr. Andersen added safety studies and his coaching and learning programs to the PCMR, and created a comprehensive optimal health program. Individuals and practices can easily implement it at virtually no cost (the client merely shifts their grocery budget from one basket of food to another). Health professionals coach as little or much as they want, typically assigning the responsibility for coaching to the hygiene department.

Imagine the reaction of a physician when he or she discovers that their patient has successfully created health thanks to the assistance of their dental practice and team! It serves as a powerful force driving collaboration among the dental and medical professions that can only result in further improved patient outcomes.

Your patients and our country need your help. To learn more about the Third Era Model is grassroots effort to carry America into the third era of medicine today.

To learn more about the third era of healthcare send an email to DBobrow@OralSystemicHealth.com

AIM MarketingDental Hygienists play a key role in delivering Third Era patient care
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What’s In A Name? 10 Questions to ask when naming your dental practice

If you are in the process of naming your dental practice, Daniel Bobrow advises that you ask and answer these 10 questions before you commit to a name.

By Daniel A. Bobrow, MBA

If you are in the process of naming your dental practice, here are 10 questions to ask and answer before you commit to that name.

  • Is it meaningful? Does it communicate something about the essence of the brand and support the image you want to convey?
  • Is it distinctive? Is the name unique, easy to remember, pronounce, and spell?
  • Is it future-oriented? Does the name position your practice for growth?
  • Do you like how it looks? How does the name look as a visual signifier?
  • Does it portray strength and energy? How vital and full of life is it? Does it have “buzz”? Can it carry an ad campaign on its shoulders? Is it a force to be reckoned with?
  • Is it positive? Does it have a positive connotation?
  • Does it have warmth? A measure of a name’s humanity is its “warmth.” Avoid names that are cold, clinical, and unemotional.
  • Does it support your positioning? How relevant is the name to the positioning of your practice? Further, how many relevant messages does the name map to?
  • How does it sound? And, equally important, how easily is it spoken?
  • Is it protectable? Can it be owned?

Author bio
Daniel A. (Danny) Bobrow, MBA, is president of AIM Dental Marketing® (formerly American Dental Marketing). He is also executive director of Climb for a Cause™ and The Smile Tree™. He may be reached at 1-800-723-6523 or DBobrow@AIMDentalMarketing.com.

AIM MarketingWhat’s In A Name? 10 Questions to ask when naming your dental practice
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Oral Systemic Practice Update – Validating the Oral Systemic Health Connection

Oral Systemic Practice Update – Validating the Oral Systemic Health Connection

How does one go about becoming familiar with an avenue of health improvement that we have in the past paid little or no attention to, at least on a professional level, yet has major impact on our patient’s oral health? I am referring to the nutritional status of your patients and the implications it has on their general health. The central question is whether or not there is adequate validity in the quantification of our nutritional status as a measure of our health to apply it to our patients.

To find out more, read the full article: Validating the Oral Systemic Health Connection.

AIM MarketingOral Systemic Practice Update – Validating the Oral Systemic Health Connection
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Oral Systemic Practice Update – Early Childhood Cares

Oral Systemic Practice Update – Early Childhood Cares

Did you know that among young children, the most common chronic illness isn’t diabetes or even asthma? It is early childhood caries (ECC)–chronic tooth decay. And it doesn’t just edge out those other diseases for the number one position. ECC affects more than five times as many children as asthma. Of course, this isn’t just about early childhood caries. Oral health is about the associated oral systemic linkages (ie, periodontitis and DM, premature labor, CVD, and aspiration pneumonia, to name a few) as well as recognition of oral lesions, including the early detection of cancer.

To find out more, read the full article: Answering the Call: Joining the Fight for Oral Health.

AIM MarketingOral Systemic Practice Update – Early Childhood Cares
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Oral Systemic Practice Update – Diabetes

Oral Systemic Practice Update – Diabetes

“The relationship between diabetes and periodontitis has been well established. As other variables, such as obesity, are introduced into the equation this relationship becomes more dynamic and complex. In this excellent review, Dr. Ryder highlights some key aspects and definitions in this area. Because new information is constantly surfacing, clinicians need to stay current on the scientific literature to be able to provide optimal care. As the epidemic of obesity and diabetes escalates, so will the role of the dental clinician in overall patient care,” Dr. Peter Cabrera, Team Lead (DentalProductsReport.com).

Please read the full article for more information: Diabetes and the Periodontal Patient: What You Should Know About the Relationship Between These Two Conditions.

AIM MarketingOral Systemic Practice Update – Diabetes
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Oral Systemic Practice Update

Oral Systemic Practice Update

Dental Profession Needs to Build a Stronger Connection Between Oral and General Health

The dental profession needs to build a stronger connection between oral health and general health–not only for individual patients, but also at the community level, according to the special June issue of The Journal of Evidence-Based Dental Practice (JEBDP), the foremost publication of information about evidence-based dental practice, published by Elsevier.

The special issue follows the usual format of JEBDP, comprising expert reviews and analyses of the scientific evidence on specific dental procedures. “Yet the coverage goes beyond a review of specific clinical interventions to broader ones that address prevention on a community basis,” according to an introductory guest editorial by Robert J. Collins, DMD, MPH, of University of Pennsylvania.

To find out more, read the full article – Dental Profession Needs to Build a Stronger Connection Between Oral and General Health.

AIM MarketingOral Systemic Practice Update
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