Improving your patients’ quality of life by helping them create and maintain bright healthy smiles makes a huge difference to your local community. But in addition to your daily work as a dentist, dental hygienist or dental assistant, there are plenty of other ways you can enhance the lives of others in your area. If you’re ready to summon your energy, resources, compassion and skills you really can make a difference outside your dental practice as well as inside it.
Why get involved in your local community?
Aside from the rewarding feeling you get from knowing you’re helping out your neighbors, getting involved in local events, charity work and important causes also creates valuable marketing opportunities for your business. When you build goodwill through community outreach, the people in your area will see you as a local dentist and their neighbor.
According to Inc.com, “Supporting a good cause not only provides businesses with convenient advertising, it also creates positive publicity that encourages potential customers to choose your business over not-so-generous competitors.” This often results in:
- More word-of-mouth referrals to friends and family
- Opportunities to make quality professional connections
- The chance to appeal directly to potential new customers
- Enhanced brand awareness in your local area
- More engaging content to share on your website, blog and via social media
Ways to get involved in your local community
Whether you’re a small dental practice with just a couple of members of staff or a large dental office with a growing team, there are many ways you can support your local community while developing your business at the same time. Not only will lending a helping hand improve the lives of your friends and neighbors, but you’ll get more customers, too.
Give dental chats in schools
The famous saying is true, “Children are the future”. Interacting with patients’ children within your practice is certainly worthwhile. It can be fun and it’s a fantastic way to build rapport with parents. Most children are anxious about visiting the dentist, so talking to them on familiar ground, like at their school, and telling them the basics of a visit to the dentist can help lower their anxiety levels before their next check-up.
To help clear up any confusion and put children’s minds at ease, you and your team can give talks at local elementary schools covering the basics of our dental anatomy, how to follow a tooth-friendly diet, implementing healthy brushing habits, etc. So your talk really sticks in their minds, consider handing out free toothbrushes, dental floss, branded stickers and other goodies. Give them away at the end of your talk and remind the children that they’ll get more freebies the next time they pay your practice a visit. Associating visiting the dentist with getting a special reward will encourage positivity toward appointments instead of a fearful sense of dread.
Hold free dentistry days
There are individuals and families in communities all over the country who can’t afford dental care. If you can budget for it, try holding free dentistry days throughout the year to help those in need improve their oral health.
Dentistry from the Heart is a major nonprofit that helps dentists across the nation plan and host free dental events. Another option is the Give Back a Smile program organized by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry Charitable Foundation which restores the smiles of adults who have dental injuries due to domestic abuse and sexual assault.
You don’t have to team up with an organization to hold a free dentistry day. If you’d rather take control of things yourself, take onboard these tips for help organizing the day yourself:
- Choose a date, services on offer and the age range of patients you’ll see.
- Seek out additional volunteers, including dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants and admin personnel. If you’re struggling to find professionals willing to work for free, you can hire temp dental staff from Cloud Dentistry and only pay for the exact hours you need extra hands.
- Find a suitable area to practice in — a dedicated section of your dental office or somewhere nearby are both great choices.
- Rent additional furniture (tents, tables, chairs, etc) so any patients waiting are comfortable.
- Run through a rehearsal in advance so you’ve got time to buy/prepare anything you’re missing.
- Have a back-up plan in case something goes wrong and you need to cancel/postpone.
- Create patient information and consent forms. Even though you’re not charging for the dental care, you’re still liable.
- Consider hosting giveaways on the day to encourage more people to show up. Try partnering with local businesses to offer fun prizes.
- Create an excellent marketing strategy to spread the word.
Offer free dentistry at a local homeless shelter or nursing home
If you don’t think you can stretch to offering everyone in your local area a free dental treatment, try scaling down your operation to a single location. Offering free treatments to a local homeless shelter or a nursing home is a great place to start. The people you treat from these parts of your neighborhood are likely to be some of the most vulnerable in your community who can’t afford dental treatment they really need.
Donate a percentage of profits to charity
Giving a portion of your profits to a local charity simultaneously improves the reputation of your dental practice and helps the charity organization at the same time, making it a winning situation for everyone. You can choose to support any type of local charity or search for one which aligns with your practice’s ethics. For example, if you focus on pediatric dentistry, you can back a children’s charity.
If you can, try and choose a charity that some of your patients will benefit from to help make your donation more personal. You can pick a single organization to donate to on a regular basis, or spread the generosity and select a new charity every month or quarter. You can even consider asking your patients for their opinion and going with the charity your local community chose.
Don’t forget to leverage the power of the internet
Take full advantage of your website, blog and social media channels to attract people to your fundraising events to help spread the word and make more money for local charities. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Share links to upcoming events on social media and invite others to get involved
- Create and maintain a calendar of events on your website
- Regularly post about how your dental practice is making a difference within your community on your blog and via social media
- Share links to important charities and causes via social media
- Post photos and videos on social media from previous events you’ve held and encourage your followers to share.
Find others like you
If helping your local community is something you want to do well into the future, it’s important for your success that you’re backed up by a team that feels the same way you do. Whether you need a dentist, dental hygienist or dental assistant, the next time you’re browsing Cloud Dentistry to find temp dental professionals, pay special attention to people who state they have an interest in their local community and enjoy supporting charities.
Dental professionals who sign up for Cloud Dentistry can create their own profiles and showcase their experience, skills and professional interests. If you find someone with past experience providing their services for charitable organizations with a passion for helping the local community, you know you’ve found a match.