Presented by Dentistry.com
Our lives are now lived on mobile devices, the digital extensions of ourselves. Today, it’s assumed that you can book a vacation, massage, dinner reservation, and even buy a car within minutes from the palm of your hand. While industries across the spectrum have been transformed by the ease and convenience afforded by this shift, some were late to adopt, favoring tradition over speed.
The dental profession is one such example. There are over 165,000 dentists in the U.S. alone, each with their own expertise, views, and ways of doing things. With this fragmentation, in addition to oral health being heavily dependent on patients’ physical contact with their dentists, it’s no surprise that dental practices are slow to adopt.
Steps taken to adapt to change
As one of the original expert dental resources for consumers, we knew we had to tackle this dichotomy with a digital solution that combines convenience with the necessary education and calls to action to get people into the dentist’s office. Enter Dentistry.com, the first-ever dental health hub that combines convenience, content, and community in one place to help people get the best dental care possible. Dentistry.com was launched based on the need for tools and information to help educate the public, find the right dentists, and decrease overall anxiety that’s often tied with going to the dentist and prioritizing one’s oral health.
Because of the link between oral health and overall wellness — impacting conditions related to the heart, brain, gut, kidneys, and others — moving dentists into the digital age is especially important to remove one of the biggest barriers for entry for consumers: inconvenience. By making oral health more convenient, we can help people actually prioritize visits to their dentists. According to the Health Policy Institute, more than 50 percent of adults have not seen a dentist in the past year, which is rather shocking, and nearly 30 percent have untreated tooth decay, potentially harming their vital organs in the long term.
We’re in the perfect storm…and the time is now (or yesterday)
Other driving factors have created the perfect storm for a new platform focused on oral health. Social media has caused people to be more focused on the appearance of their teeth, bolstering consumer interest and fueling the industry. According to a study conducted by Dentistry.com and The Harris Poll, about one-third (30 percent) of those 18-34 digitally whiten their teeth before posting a picture on social media, and over two-thirds of Americans (67 percent) would reject someone on a dating app if their pictures showed they had bad teeth. Companies like Quip and SmileDirectClub have capitalized on this boom, heavily marketing their products on social media and gaining business success in the process.
But, while social platforms may have made your smile more important than ever, people aren’t looking beyond the photo to truly care for their oral — and overall — health. It’s critical that consumers become just as concerned by the health of their mouth as they are with the appearance of their teeth. Dentistry.com aims to address the dearth of services that close this gap in the marketplace as the only online health care platform that combines all of the tools needed for consumers to reclaim their oral health and make informed decisions about their teeth. The platform includes a dental directory featuring over 130,000 thousand dentists, the most comprehensive dental directory found anywhere on the web. Dentistry.com also offers filtered dentist search, online booking tools, reviews, authoritative content and articles, and a community forum, where users can ask questions and share their stories.
It’s crucial to understand your audience as you bring them on your journey
The aforementioned study revealed much more than the importance of a nice smile before dating or swiping, uncovering a wide variety of views and behaviors around oral and dental care, habits, and priorities. Turns out, bad teeth can send the right or wrong message, whether in the boardroom or the bedroom. Nearly 9 in 10 Americans (87 percent) agree that bad teeth can have a negative impact on a person’s personal and professional life. Nearly half of Americans would end a relationship if their partner had bad breath (46 percent) or avoid spending time with a friend with bad breath 44 percent).
And, while people tend to direct their focus and efforts around services and relationships that support the things that matter most, in the case of oral health, it’s clear that there’s a dangerous disconnect. Given that oral care and good teeth were found to affect one’s perception on everything from work to sex, it was shocking to uncover that Americans are actually more focused on discretionary spending than investing in their oral health. More Americans have had car maintenance done (62 percent) than received a teeth cleaning (51 percent) over the past six months and nearly one-half of respondents (45 percent) would rather spend money on TV services than on a dental procedure. We may be aware that our teeth are important to our health and impact the way we view and are viewed by others, but, according to the research, people are quite literally not putting their money where their mouth is. We knew that our solution had to make it easy to change this behavior.
Technology need not replace touch
Dentistry.com may be a digital solution to a personal problem, but it’s important to remember that technological advances need not replace human contact. While we’re bringing the nationwide dental industry into the mobile and digital world, our goal is to elevate dentistry to its proper place in healthcare as a valuable tool in preventive medicine, showcasing how oral health equals overall health. This, in turn, will improve a patient’s ability to find and connect with an actual dentist, who are often the first line of defense against many diseases and illnesses.
Brian McCarthy is a EVP at Futuredontics, the parent company of Dentistry.com and its sister brand 1-800-DENTIST.
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