It isn’t often that something comes along with the potential to reshape an industry.
But last month, researchers at King’s College London revealed that they had successfully healed dental caries in rats by using a potential Alzheimer’s drug, tideglusib. Tideglusib activates stem cells to enhance teeth’s natural healing ability.
The researchers found that filling cavities with tiny biodegradable sponges containing the drug allowed teeth to heal cavities – even when those cavities reached as far as the root.
Granted, these experiments were conducted on rats. Human trials and possible approval will take time to complete, and success is by no means guaranteed. But if the drug does prove effective in helping human teeth to heal themselves, it changes one of most dentists’ basic revenue streams.
When Drill and Fill Becomes Drill and Sponge
As one of the study authors points out, decay will still have to be removed prior to attempts at rejuvenation. The dental drill will be around for some time. However, dentists will have to master a new skill set to remain competitive. They’ll also have to convince entire generations of dental patients that the new treatment is safe and effective.
Long term, the effects on revenue may become even more pronounced. Dentists who would normally crown or extract a tooth that has had multiple fillings will find that option gone. If the treatment successfully regenerates enamel, as it seems to in mice, dental veneers for cracks may become a thing of the past.
All of this is speculation at present. However, it brings up a point that dentists should consider.
Dental Evolution is Great, If You Can Evolve With It
Technological breakthroughs drive practice, forcing dentists to adapt. One area where the vast majority of dentists fail to innovate is in their marketing. They continue to chase patients by advertising specials, discounts, and coupons. By advertising like everyone else, they place themselves firmly in the commodity category.
Commodity items are interchangeable. There’s no reason to pick on item over another except for price. Commodity dentists get anything but the cream of the crop. They get one-and-dones, price shoppers, and insurance-driven patients.
And yet, dentists continue to commoditize themselves.
If the practice of dentistry evolves, shouldn’t your marketing evolve likewise?
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Do you get that kind of return from chasing patients through advertising?
If you want to be positioned to handle whatever the economy – and technology – might throw at you, good or bad, the time to act is now.
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In today’s cutthroat internet arena, dentists must evolve, or fail.