Originally published February 2010 in Trojan Today.
It is the little red dress logo that catches my eye every year. It signifies Go Red for Women, a day honoring the women who die from heart disease, the Number One killer of your female patients. February happens to be American Heart Health Month. In dentistry, February traditionally has been celebrated as Children’s Dental Health Month. If your practice is predominantly adult, I propose hosting Dentistry has a Heart Month instead.
The Surgeon General’s report on oral health states, “Oral health is integral to overall health.” It is no longer a surprise to the general population that there is a link between inflammation in the oral cavity and cardiac health. In a study published in 2002 by Buhlin, Gustafsson, Hakansson, and Klinge of Sweden entitled Oral Health and Cardiovascular Disease, the conclusion confirms that oral health, and especially gingival inflammation, is associated with cardiovascular disease. We as dental professionals can help keep our patients’ hearts healthy. This is an unbelievable opportunity to help our profession be regarded as committed to our patients’ overall health and wellbeing.
An effective marketing plan must address the consciousness of the prospective patient on three levels: internal marketing, external activity, and advertising. Internal referrals come as a result of patient feedback. External referrals appoint as a result of awareness of the practice in the community. Advertising is self-explanatory. As a marketing consultant, I know the target market for dentistry is female. The women in the world accept more cosmetic dentistry, schedule their husbands and children for dental appointments, and are more health conscious. The challenge is to find methods of promoting the practice to them.
This year, join me in celebrating Dentistry has a Heart Month. These are suggested activities to go with the concept of promoting the cause:
- The thoroughness of your dental examinations will be realized by recording blood pressure readings and taking a resting heart rate, then recording the numbers on your hygienist’s business card. Many patients see a dentist more often than they see a physician for a physical examination. This alone can be a lifesaver.
- Educate patients with periodontal symptoms about the effect of the bacteria in the oral cavity directly linked to cardiac health. Hygienists can be committed to explaining the information in the context of your heart health promotion.
- The American Heart Association predicts by the year 2025, there will be a shortage in cardiothorasic surgeons. Cardiologists are more interested than ever in preventing heart problems. Send letters to cardiologists in your local community to engage them in your practice activities. Ask for printed materials to support your campaign. Offer to conduct free periodontal screenings to their teams and to their patients.
- Send Valentines or blank note cards with the Dentistry has a Heart logo to patients after treatment.
- Send a letter to patients offering to donate $1 to the local chapter of the American Heart Association if they do.
- Decorate the office in hearts and the logo. I had clients line the walls with donations made to the American Heart Association written on the hearts.
- Enroll in a heart health walk. Engage your patients in your commitment. Make it a fundraiser.
Have fun while doing something helpful. So, this promotion is as easy as possible for you to implement, check out www.dentistryhasaheart.com. You will find free items to launch this campaign–items such as flyers, letters, and informational links to the most current research on the subject of the Oral Body Inflammatory Connection.
The American population is paying attention to Heart Health Month. A growing number of dental teams are participating in Dentistry has a Heart Month in February. Yours can too.
Learn more about Laura Jamison at her blog at www.jamisonconsulting.com or look her up on LinkedIn.