Previously, research revealed that patients aged 50-65 spend more at the dental practice each year than any other group. With this information, you might be compelled to put a greater focus on this demographic to boost your revenue. But how exactly do you focus on a specific type of patient in dentistry?
To keep things simple, we’ll focus on three demographics: Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials.
As patients age, the type of dental treatments they need changes, too. To appeal to your target demographic, you should adjust the range of treatments and procedures you offer accordingly.
Most Baby Boomers still have their own natural teeth, meaning they’ve also received various dental treatments, such as bridges, crowns and possibly dental implants which could require maintenance or replacements over time.
As Baby Boomers retire, they experience a loss of income and dental insurance which translates into fewer dental hygiene appointments. Unfortunately, as they age Baby Boomers also experience decreased salivary flow (xerostomia) which results in an increased risk of tooth decay. Not only that, but 70% of Americans aged 65+ have chronic periodontitis, putting Baby Boomers at a very high risk.
If you’re targeting Baby Boomers, consider offering a reduced price on checkups, so you can help them keep on top of their oral health and prevent their current dental problems from getting worse.
Generation X has been practicing good oral hygiene habits for literally decades, so their teeth are in good shape. However, their age puts them at risk of periodontal disease and the danger only increases over time.
Fillings Gen X patients received in their 20s are likely to be weakening by now and might need to be replaced by dental crowns. It’s much better for these issues to be diagnosed and dealt with while they’re small — not after they’ve escalated so far as to warrant a painful and expensive root canal.
To appeal to Generation X, offer annual periodontal evaluations, preventative dental checkups, teeth cleaning procedures and dental crowns.
As most Millennials are in the prime of their health, dental care is far from their minds. This means they’re unlikely to make a dental appointment unless they’ve noticed something is seriously wrong with their teeth.
However, ADA uncovered that more than 30% of young adults have untreated tooth decay — the highest percentage in any age group.
Not only that, but 35% have trouble biting and chewing, and 38% claim life is “less satisfying” because of teeth and mouth problems. These statistics show that although the majority of Millennials think they have no need to visit the dentist, a large proportion do.
Attract Millennial patients by offering treatments such as teeth whitening and teeth cleaning that will make them feel better about their smiles. As with all patients, regular checkups every six months to prevent harmful tooth decay from evolving also need to be available.
The best places to get patients to notice you also depends on the type of people you’re targeting. Follow the tips below so you don’t find yourself wasting time trying to advertise to your target audience somewhere they never go.
Baby Boomers react best to information that shows your services work and they’re worth their money. This makes testimonials, before-and-after pictures and case studies great ways to market to this generation.
Always avoid slang as it can lead to confusion. Instead, stick with simple messages that are easy to understand. Stay away from social media if you’re targeting Baby Boomers in favor of website marketing campaigns and physical adverts on flyers, billboards and posters in your local community.
Generation X is a tricky group to market to because the older ones embrace the buying habits of Baby Boomers, while younger ones mimic the spending practices of Millennials.
The people in the middle of Gen X care about security and use the internet to research their purchases. Appeal to these qualities by introducing a satisfaction guarantee and encouraging patients to leave reviews on your website, social media pages and third-party review sites.
The best way to reach Millennial patients is to leverage social media. Create accounts for your dental practice on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and use them to promote your practice, answer dental questions and tell your followers about special offers when they’re available.
Take advantage of the power of influencers to do that they do best. If you can get several prominent faces posting about their teeth before visiting your practice and after, you’ll capture the attention of Millennials.
Talking to patients
Different aged patients respond best to different approaches. While it’s always important to treat people as individuals, keep the following in mind when talking to different demographics to provide your patients with the five-star service they deserve.
Dentists, hygienists and assistants need to stress the connection between oral care and overall health to Baby Boomers. What could be misinterpreted as a minor oral niggle could actually be an indication of a life-threatening disease.
Speak kindly, respectfully and clearly to your older patients and build up a sense of trust so they feel comfortable talking to you about any oral problem, no matter how small they might think it is.
Generation X is most likely to be responsible for their children and their parent’s healthcare needs. Because of this, you can appeal to them by being compassionate about how tough taking care of two generations of family can be and offer loyalty programs, referral bonus and discounts to help ease their burden.
Generation X is the demographic most concerned they won’t have enough money for retirement, so avoid harsh upsells. Instead, be understanding about their financial limits.
Millennials have all kinds of technology at their fingertips to help make their lives easier. Follow suit and transform making a dental appointment with your practice as easy as possible.
Instead of making Millennials phone up to make an appointment, introduce systems so they can make appointments through your website, social media channels, by email or texting. By reducing the friction involved in making an appointment, more Millennials will choose your practice over any other.
Your patients need to know you’re there for them and that you care about their wellbeing. Instead of waiting for them to approach you for their next appointment, consider going out of your way to get in front of them.
Over half the residents in senior homes report problems with their teeth and gums, a major issue that not only affects their quality of life, but can also be the root cause of several dangerous diseases.
By visiting senior homes and donating your services to the residents, you’re serving your local community, improving the lives of others and acquiring new patients for your practice. Some patients won’t be able to make it to your dental office for an appointment. If you’re willing to make the journey to them instead, you’ll be making a huge difference.
Many Gen Xers have children anywhere between preschool and college age. You can prove that your practice is there for them and their families by making an extra effort with schools.
You can offer free child dental classes, where you teach children the importance of a teeth-friendly diet, maintaining good brushing habits and visiting the dentist. You could even organize free dentistry days at schools and colleges open to everyone (children, parents, grandparents, etc) for basic checkups and referrals.
The average US Millennial spends over $2,000 each year on coffee. Help make their coffee bill a little more reasonable by giving away a free coffee shop gift card with each dental appointment.
If you work with a small local coffee shop instead of a large corporation, they might even be willing to promote your services inside their shop, too, since you’ll be sending them business. Just make sure to secure a follow-up appointment with each patient for a teeth cleaning after all that coffee!
How to serve multiple groups
Serving multiple demographics within your dental practice is a challenge but it’s not impossible. Patients aren’t mutually exclusive; you can specialize in more than one group of patients and still run a successful dental practice.
The easiest way to cover multiple groups within your dental practice is to target Generation X. As mentioned earlier, these people are often in charge of the healthcare for themselves, their children and their parents. If you can capture that market using the above advice, you could secure the business of three generations in one.
If you’re at the very beginning of your dentistry career and you’re planning on staying in the industry for several decades, an alternative is to target Millennials. Although this demographic doesn’t spend much on dental care yet, they will in the future. If you can win the loyalty of Millennials, it’s likely they’ll stay with you for several years.
In the early years, you’ll benefit from their custom, followed by their children’s custom. Then as the years progress and they move into the next age gap, it’s also likely you’ll gain the custom of their parents, too.