AADOM Members |4 min read

Optimizing Your Patient Oral Hygiene List

Lilson Curl, Text: Real-world insights from AADOM authors.

I have gone to classes and seminars and have been instructed by the presenter to never call anyone on a patient hygiene list over eighteen months past due.

My philosophy is to take them off the patient hygiene list after ten years. I am a numbers girl! I have been told over the years that a dental office should have 2,000 active patients, so I run that report monthly.

If we fall below that number, then I have to think of ways to increase it and work to keep those numbers active.

The Texas Dental Association recommended that we close the office due to Covid back in March 2020.

I paid the staff an extra two weeks to finish cases and to call all 2,000 patients and do welfare checks. That let us know the current state of our patients and whether or not anyone was having dental issues before we shut down.

That also gave us time to prepare for closing and help the employees through steps on how to file for unemployment benefits.

I also went to the dental office daily to answer patient phone calls, talk to vendors, and check on insurance benefit payments.

How We Handle Patient Communication

Once the dental office was back up and running, we texted patients that were due for hygiene work through a vendor I found at an ADDOM conference called Podium.

They have two-way texting that works with our dental software and also is an easier path for our patients to leave Google reviews.

We found that texting for patient hygiene brings a much quicker response than calling since a lot of patients don’t answer their phones like they used to.

We have a system where we text patients without appointments three times during the month as reminders that they are due for a hygiene check. Then we start going back and texting patients from past months that also did not have an appointment.

We keep records of who we’ve texted and how often. It generally takes us about six months to text back through ten years of people. All the while, Podium keeps all the records of each text conversation.

If a patient has moved away and forgotten to call us, that is a good time to notify us so we can update our patient hygiene list. This is a great way to keep a current list at all times, so you can know the current state of your patient list.

The Hygiene Reactivation Process

During Covid closures, many patients moved away to work from home, and our patient hygiene list declined to 1300. This required some marketing to bring our numbers back to over 2,000 active patients.

Our dentist read that the average dental patient attends an office visit once every five years.

Patients who require extractions and denture replacement visit on average once every ten years.

Quite a few patients were unemployed and now have jobs again, so that can make a difference. Patients are always shocked to hear how long it has been since their last appointment.

We have quite a few healthcare workers as patients, and if they are exposed to Covid, they don’t tend to come into the dental office as often as needed.

Other patients and family members may have been exposed to Covid as well, so their usual schedules have been delayed.

We need to encourage them to get back into a routine since it’s in their best interests for their long-term health to do so.

I also send out emails to our patient list through our software, free of charge. I let them know about our holiday schedule and regular office hours.

We have picked up a lot of emergencies that way.

Keep in touch with your patients as much as possible. Let them know you are there for them. Remember, if you take care of them, they will take care of you!

Meet the Author

Lilson Curl in her white dress.

Lilson Curl, FAADOM has been a dental office manager since 2003.

She and her dentist husband (to who she has been proudly married for 35 years) own Advanced Premier Dental and Implant Dentistry in The Woodlands, TX. Lilson earned her BS in Marketing from the University of Houston, and her MBA in finance from St. Thomas University.

She holds nine Financial Securities licenses and has worked as an auditor in banking and investments.

Lilson is a lifetime AADOM member and was inducted as an AADOM Fellow in 2013.

She is currently pursuing her AADOM Mastership (MAADOM) and plans to be inducted into the 2022 class in September.

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