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THE NEXTDDS Student Ambassador Blogs

Social Media: How It’s Changed Marketing for Dentists

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Social Media: How It’s Changed Marketing for Dentists


Guy Njewel


               If you’re reading this, you probably check at least one of the following every morning when you wake up: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, or Tumblr. In an era where almost everyone has some kind of online presence, businesses have come to realize how useful social media can be in promoting new products, generating larger revenue, and cultivating a loyal consumer base. But how does all of this apply to dentistry?

               Networking involves gathering contacts and building mutually beneficial relationships that can help a practice grow. The internet and technology have continued to help drive the immediate, real-time communication in our society today, and a major part of that involves social media.[1] It has revolutionized the way marketing, advertising, and self-promotion are implemented, streamlining the process and making it much more efficient.

               One of the ways dentists can find new patients is through word of mouth. For example, your friend visits Dr. X to get a tooth pulled and has a great experience; so he recommends Dr. X when you need dental care. Websites like Yelp have taken referrals to a whole other level. Even if people don’t know anything about the reviewers on the site, they’re still inclined to listen to their advice.[2] Nowadays, pulling out the phone book and putting ads in the local newspaper won’t work as much as social media, not to mention how time-consuming it is. Facebook can be an effective way to spread the word about a practice. It allows dentists to provide oral health education, promote a product or service, and find prospective patients. If a page is regularly updated, it can offer a way for dentists to maintain a constant communication with current and possibly future patients.[2]

               Social media outlets like Twitter and Instagram can also be useful in a networking or marketing campaign. You can tweet about the newest whitening procedure your practice offers or tips on maintaining good oral hygiene. You can also post before-and-after pictures of procedures you’ve performed on real patients. Similarly, YouTube is another great way to provide patient testimonials, inform people about a particular procedure, or even give a tour of the practice. These platforms present an opportunity to publicize your brand, increase awareness, and spark interest in what you have to offer. Social networking sites are also less expensive than traditional marketing methods.[1] There’s no need to hire a company to create an ad campaign, and the message reaches the audience within seconds.

               But what about the negative aspects of using social media as self-promotion? Many times, dentists don’t know where to begin or don’t have a clear direction regarding what to post on their Facebook or Twitter. A poorly designed campaign can end up hurting the practice, so a good first impression, especially on the Internet, is crucial.[1] There is only one chance to influence what a future patient may think of you, and a haphazardly created Facebook or Instagram page isn’t the way to do it. Consumers could be more likely to ignore messages or updates until they get feedback from their fellow Facebook friends. Online reputation management is extremely important,[1] and I think it goes without saying that you shouldn’t post pictures of inappropriate content, or pictures of patients without their expressed written permission. It’s easy to get caught up in the fast pace of social media, so always think before you post. Even though you can delete later, sometimes the damage has already been done.

               To Tweet or not to Tweet? The AAOMS states there are three main goals to focus on when starting a social media campaign for your practice: generate positive attention, create excitement and buzz, and continually build a network of loyal fans and friends who can assist in promoting your message.[1] The social media craze is real and as long as it’s done correctly, dentists can definitely benefit from participating.



Azark R. Social media and dentistry. CDS Review 2010 (May/Jun):10-11. Accessed May 11, 2016, from https://www.cds.org/uploadedFiles/News/CDS_Review/cds_rev_may.10.pdf


American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. Social media/social networking marketing arena: Should I enter? AAOMS Today 2011 (Suppl: Nov/Dec). Retrieved May 11, 2016, from http://www.aaoms.org/images/uploads/pdfs/2011_12_pmn.pdf


Tips to Avoiding Pitfalls While Communicating with Patients

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By: Joseph Weber, Student Doctor, SDM UNLV

An essential part of a successful relationship with our patients is good, direct communication. A young dental student may find this to be a challenge. I have seen and encountered these problems because I failed to give enough information: saying too much or not asking enough questions. I learned quickly that our patients are constantly forming opinions of us. They don’t always see the end result of our work and don’t know how to critique it, but they do listen and are judging us by what we say. 

In this post I will be going over a few tips on how to avoid some of the most common mistakes while communicating with patients.

Give Concise Pre-Appointment Information

Miscommunications in dentistry can be disastrous. A patient comes into dental school and has a full mouth extraction before she can receive her dentures, and you failed to mention that she might need alveoloplasty ahead of time. Mid-procedure, you have to stop and explain. This places more financial burden on the patient, might create confusion, and increases her anxiety. What if this patient thought she was receiving an immediate denture and was planning for conventional methods? These are classic mistakes of communication failure.[1]

I like to begin every appointment seated in front of the patient with a quick discussion, like a pregame rundown of all the events, expectations, risks, and benefits of that day’s procedures. For example, “Today we are going to start your bridge; you will be here for nearly two hours, and when we are finished you will have a nice provisional that we will exchange at your next visit with a beautiful, custom-made bridge, while also starting on your last crown. Do you have any questions?”

This reinforces the purpose of the day’s visit, reducing anxiety by answering any questions that the patient may have.[2] The patient knows exactly what is going to be done.

Provide Good Post-Care Information

After the appointment and before I dismiss the patient, I like to review what was done. “Today we prepared your teeth for a bridge. The treatment went splendid. I am really pleased with the results. We prepared your teeth for the bridge, took an impression, and made a provisional. The provisional is cemented in place, the impression was perfect. I don’t expect you to have any discomfort. Next visit we will be seating your custom, laboratory-made bridge. Do you have any questions?” The pre- or postoperative conversation instills confidence in the patient, renews informed consent, eases his or her anxiety, and reinforces our relationship with our patients.

These techniques have helped me in many situations, and if implemented well can do the same for you.



Devore PR. Communicating effectively with patients: the warm-up and the wrap-up. J Am Dent Assoc. 2002 Jul;133(7):873.

Glick M. Placebo and its evil twin, nocebo. J Am Dent Assoc. 2016 Apr;147(4):227-228.

So you want to finish clinic on time? Part 2

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3 more steps to finishing on time

1. Stick with you patients- Not all of your patients of course, some you just need to drop because they always cancel. But do not be so quick to judge a patient when you meet them. I started with one patient that I truthfully thought was going to be a nightmare because she was deathly afraid of the dentist, but she just hadn’t been to the right dentist. She started out by saying her last dentist had her take valium and then had her on laughing gas to do all procedures. I told her we didn’t have laughing gas and she almost left, but I explained to her that the fear is more about her being comfortable with me than it is about the actual dental work. I built a great relationship with her and it turns out she is the patient I did the most dental work on. 6 fillings, 4 crowns, 2 partial denture. In the end she was my best patient. I stuck with her and it paid off. If you are good to your patients they will be good to you, they are not just requirements they are people and they should be treated well.

2. Call your patients and fill your schedule- I would go down my list of patients at least once a day, I never had more than 20 patients at a time (less is more). Most weeks I would have a full schedule and my patients had a good enough relationship with me that I would hardly get cancelations. Your patient has to know who you are and they will respect your time. Call or text them two days before appointments and confirm they are coming (get their cell phones numbers when you meet them). When you have an appointment with a patient try to be one time, sometimes you will be a little late because you have to set-up, but just let your patient know you are running late (text messaging is great for this!). At the end of their appointment you should always set up their next appointment. It will save you time by not having to call them later. Also the most important thing I learned was to make the appointments on the same time and day every week. This way you are working with the same professor and the patient will not forget their appointment. I once had to change my patient’s appointment to a different time and she was so confused she ended up coming on the wrong day and she was very upset because I couldn’t see her. Try to keep the same day and time every week, it will make your life so much easier.

3. Stay after school- I was one of the only people to stay at school after the day was done, you really want to go home but you need to make sure all the loose ends are tied before leaving. This is the time that I would call my patients, add notes to charts, make new treatment plans and review old treatment plans. Reviewing treatment plans is extremely important, things change and there are a lot of moving parts that need to be checked on. For example, patient needs extractions and they need to be scheduled in the OS clinic, it takes time to heal so you better plan ahead and make sure they are scheduled asap otherwise you will be waiting for them to heal and wasting time. I was always able to have a clear mind after school and organize my schedule for the next couple weeks knowing that I was doing what needed to be done. 

So you want to finish clinic on time? Part 1

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4 steps to finishing your requirements on time:

1. Be patient – Sometimes it can feel like you are not getting anything done and you will never be able to finish on time. When you first get to clinic, you will be doing a lot of treatment plans and sitting around. That will last for about a month and then you will start doing limited procedures. Do not concentrate on what other people are doing. There will always be people ahead and behind you. Also you will be doing a lot of waiting around for professors to come to you, you can only go as fast as they let you go so do not stress it.

2. Be in clinic everyday- Some days you want to just slack off and relax, you can save that for when you finish early. Students that spent most of their time in the student lounge or outside of school were not working effectively and most ended up staying after graduation. Even if you get a cancelation it does not mean you can go home. Stay at school and get things done (believe me there is always other things that have to be completed), for example tracking down professors to sign off on lab work.

3. Find patients yourself- Our first year in clinic we had radiology (what a perfect place to scout out new patients). I would take some x-rays and if I needed the patient I would ask them if they would like to continue treatment with me. Every patient said yes because they want to get the work done faster. But wait till after you take the x-rays before asking the patient. It streamlines the process and makes things easier for the patient. Do not pick up patients you do not need because it will just stress you out too much.

4. Take emergencies- I am not talking about the cementing a temp back on emergency (those are a waste of time). Remember this OS = Dentures, RCT = crowns. When you go to the OS clinic pick up the emergencies, these were the best patients because they didn’t have a student doctor, but they obviously needed dental work. I picked up two full over full cases from taking these emergencies. Toward the end of my senior year I had extra denture cases that I gave to my friends. Also if you are in the emergency clinic and the patient needs a RCT on a molar that equal a crown. Again streamline the process for the patient, if you make it easy to come back and get the crown they will do it. You will not only get a crown, but you are doing what is best for the patient because they are more likely to come back and get the crown, especially if you got them out of pain. There are always patients that need crowns that visit the endo clinic, go there and find your crowns.

5 Tips for Interviewing

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Every year, around this time, dental students from around the nation collectively invest a great amount of time and money traveling and interviewing for residency positions. There is no doubt that it is a lengthy, time consuming and expensive process that many people find uncertain and unclear. However, the one thing you do want to be clear on is how to interview well.

As a student going through this process currently, I wish to share some advice that has been passed down to me from several of the recent graduates. 

1. Be on time. Even during the interview season, the residents are still working hard. Be respectful of their time and try to come just a little bit earlier. If you are going to be late, let them know. There is nothing wrong with asking for a contact number a few days prior to the interview, just in case you get lost or have any other type of emergency.

2. Review the program prior. Remember, residency interviews are an opportunity for the program residents and faculty to get to know you, but for you to also interview and get to know the program. Be sure to review information regarding the residency program prior to your interview so that you may ask the right questions during the interview. Interviewers like to see that you are actively interested in the program, and by asking more in depth questions based on your review of the program, this can definitely be achieved.

3. Interact with the other applicants. I cannot stress this enough. Although you are all competing for the same spots, you are all colleagues. Interviewers do not just listen, but they also watch. They will be spending considerable amounts of time with you, and they want to make sure you get a long well with others and are relatable.

4. Be sure to attend all of the interview “festivities”. Regardless of how comfortable you are with the program, you should always attend everything that is planned as part of the interview, from the socials the day before to the tour. If possible, come the day before and give yourself plenty of time. If you cannot do this, communicate with the program coordinators so that they may plan accordingly.

5. Thank everyone. From the residents to the program directors, from your interview colleagues to the program coordinator, be sure to thank them all for helping to give you the full interview experience. Many of the graduates that I spoke to have highly suggested following up with emails or even hand written thank-you cards within a week after the interview.\

I fully understand what a daunting experience interviewing can be; you really do not know what to expect. However, by following some of the tips above, you can at least be more certain that your interview will be much better.

Good luck. 


3 Tips for Entering Into Clinic

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Recently, I had my very first patient. There is no avoiding the nerves and self-doubt that are associated with that looming first appointment. In the weeks leading up to this day, many thoughts ran through my mind. Would I be able to rise to the challenge? Would my first patient like me? Would they know that they were my first patient? Who would my row instructor be? Could I keep my composure if something went wrong? My anxious thoughts were exacerbated by our instructors words, “If you slacked off during your first two years, you are going to have no clue what you are doing and you will be miserable.”


As dental students, we all strive to be the best we can be. Even if we worked our tails off for two years, we always feel like we could have done more. This is one of the main reasons why we are all so anxious. It turned out that my first appointment went pretty well, and I am now a few more weeks into my journey as a student-dentist. I have compiled three major tips to consider before anyone sees their first patient.


Tip #1: Don’t delay, act today!

Anytime we have an exam or practical we always wish we had more time to prepare. The same goes for our first patients. Since you still have classes going on, it can be tempting to schedule patients in a month rather than right away. Realize that no amount of preparation can prepare you for what is going to happen on your first day. You need to trust that your first two years have taught you what you need to know. The instructors are there to help you with anything that comes up and takes you by surprise. You can do it!


Tip #2: Your first patient should be someone you know, preferably a classmate.

I won’t say it was a mistake having my first patient be someone I didn’t know, since it’s all about getting started. However, I will say that having my friends and classmates be my next three patients really helped me learn on the fly. My friends and classmates already knew that I was new to the clinic, so the pressure was totally off. I was also able to ask for their feedback on all the aspects of care they were receiving during or after the procedures.


If you have a patient you don’t know, asking them about your technique doesn’t give the patient much confidence in the operator. Even if there was something I didn’t know how to do from all the preparation, I was able to ask them. It was certainly a mutually beneficial practice. Make a deal with a classmate to be their patient if they’ll be yours. Ask your other classmates to assist you. Have fun!


Tip #3: Come in with a positive attitude.

You will never know everything or be prepared to handle every situation. Not every instructor is going to be kind when they help you. They may even be rude to you in front of the patient. Similarly, not every patient is going to like you. All you can do is your best! At the end of the day, you put everything you can into helping your patient. Remembering that is crucial!


The most successful people are people that don’t dwell on failure. Instead, they focus on avoiding them in the future. Do this by coming prepared to every appointment. You can ask questions to classmates, instructors, staff members, and especially seniors. Seniors were in your place just a year ago, so they can give you advice and even assist you if they don’t have a patient. Every day is a learning opportunity. Take advantage of it!

The Significance of the White Coat Ceremony

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I just finished my second year at Temple’s School of Dentistry. Right before we begin to see patients in clinic, we have our white coat ceremony. Students, faculty, and loved ones gather to celebrate our achievement thus far. I have never been a fan of graduation-type ceremonies. That is, until I got my white coat.

Incidentally, my mentor gave the keynote speech. Her voice rang out, “Today is a new beginning for you. The next phase of your career. You are the lucky ones. The next two years you will develop your diagnostic and treatment planning skills and the art of dentistry on a live patient in the mouth, with big tongues and chubby cheeks and moving heads, on patients who are coughers, gaggers, and dental phobics, oh my!” At that moment it dawned on me that my journey is now going to intimately involve the lives of the patients that I serve. No longer is it just about me doing well on a typodont in preclinic. No longer is it all about studying until I cannot see straight (I hope). My mentor spoke of responsibility and obligation, the attainment of knowledge, and the aim to benefit all of society. After two years of struggling and fighting to survive, we are now student dentists. We are no longer struggling and fighting for ourselves, we are struggling and fighting for our patients.


After the ceremony, I went out to dinner with my family to celebrate. I realized that the people I was sharing a meal with could now be the people that I provide care to. I imagined doing dental work on my mother and how much I would study and work to make sure that I did her no harm and gave her the absolute best care. I would expect nothing but the best of myself with the goal of improving her dental health, overall health, and her life. Of course, I feel this way about by father and sister too, as well as my aunt, uncle, and cousin who were also celebrating with us.


After my uncle, the dentist in the family, coated me on stage in front of peers and superiors, I realized that I ought to treat each and every one of my patients as if they were my mother. It shouldn’t be about how many crowns I can get my patients to do, (even if they don’t necessarily need one), or how many patients I can get to do whitening. When I enter clinic it will be tempting to convince patients to do certain procedures that will help me graduate, but I will only do it if the procedure is appropriate. I will do the right thing. I will always work to understand the unique patient in my chair and balance their wants and needs with my skills and knowledge. 



Happy graduation season to all!