It is great to be able to give something for nothing. Yes, we are in a business -- the business of dentistry -- but we have the opportunity to offer our patients adjuncts to their oral and general health at no cost to us.
How, you ask? Our patients can participate in programs that we can discuss during patient visits that will demonstrate great caring for their needs and make us look great in the process. At nominal costs to our patients, they will be able to purchase health-related items that directly impact oral care.
For example -- with the impending flu season, patients have been asking about masks. So we have been discussing the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention safety precautions, such as regular hand washing and covering the mouth when coughing, rather than buying a gross of masks and adding to already overcrowded landfills.
We also recommend the Violight toothbrush sanitizer to help ward off the H1N1 virus. With a push of a button, concentrated ultraviolet light is projected on to the entire toothbrush for 10 minutes, focusing on the bristles. Other systems may only sterilize the toothbrush head, but, as we know, we grip the handle of the brush and sometimes do not wash our hands prior to brushing. Due to the concentrated focus of the Violight's ultraviolet (UV) light, none escapes the canister.
Recent studies have shown that after 10 minutes of exposure to the UV light, 99% of all pathogens and 98% of the H1N1 virus are destroyed, and the toothbrush is sanitized, germ-free, and ready to use again, according to the company.
The Violight, which can be sold directly through the dental office, is easy to use, compact, and fits even in my tiny bathroom. Up to four toothbrushes fit into the canister at one time.
Violight is currently offering a Professional Distribution Program. Violight may either be sold in office or purchased online via a dentist referral. The simplicity of the online purchase affords the dentist not to have "stock" in their office and will direct the patient to more information about Violight and its health features. For either ordering program, dentists will receive a rebate for units purchased. The dental office can offer this program at no cost, but it does come with rewards!
Another service we offer our patients (for free) is MedicAlert. I have been a fan of MedicAlert identification jewelry for more than 30 years. Patients who subscribe to MedicAlert receive either a necklace or bracelet with a personalized code. If patients have a medical emergency, the paramedics are able to immediately access lifesaving medical information. Major medical issues (such as Coumadin therapy and allergies) are engraved on the piece of jewelry.
MedicAlert is widely utilized throughout the U.S. We suggest our patients of all ages to look into the program if they have any medical history issues, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or allergies. When conditions change, they can contact MedicAlert to add medical issues to their history. Changes to the system may be made either online or by phone. If a new bracelet needs to be made, patients pay a small charge, but the system is immediately updated.
We keep a supply of MedicAlert brochures in both the reception area and treatment rooms. We find it is another conversation starter. Many patients are unaware of the danger they face if they are found unconscious and have an allergy to specific drugs. (On a side note, another great freebie to give your patients is a medication card. Easily created on postcard stock, the card lists the drugs and daily doses the patient is taking, and may be carried at all times.)
Offering our patients adjuncts to their overall health reinforces that we are the caring individuals they have come to know and trust. We are not selling anything, merely suggesting. It is up to the patient to consider and choose their options for enhanced general and oral health.
Sheri Doniger, D.D.S., practices clinical dentistry in Lincolnwood, IL. She has served as an educator in several dental and dental hygiene programs, has been a consultant for a major dental benefit company, and has written for several dental publications. Most recently, she was the editor of Woman Dentist Journal and Woman Dentist eJournal. You can reach her at email@example.com.
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