“It’s Not a Mouthguard.”

I love Dr. Jeffrey Haddad. He recently removed my head from a dark place where the sun does not shine. He may be able to do the same for you.

He has recommended Pro Impressions to rooms full of dentists, receiving no commission or kickback. He just knows that we do a great job at bringing his office new patients.

Yet, when I told him that we could help with marketing beyond the website and social media, he said, “Well, shame on you because obviously, I don’t really know what your company is capable of doing.”

Ouch! This was a failure in our internal marketing effort at Pro Impressions, a breakdown in communication with one of our best clients. Many TMJ and sleep dentists can learn from our mistakes.

dentist, lecturer Dr. Jeffery Haddad discusses views an oral appliance therapy device with other colleagues.

I’m Not Just a Web Guy, and You’re Not “Just a Dentist”

Jeff has recommended me for years as his “web guy.” Other dentists have referred to me as their “web guy,” and I haven’t corrected them because, from one standpoint, it’s true. I know a lot about the internet. Most marketing has at least some online component to it these days, but I should have had an alarm going off in my head that said, “You’re not just a ‘web’ guy!’

I am a dental marketing expert. I know dentistry, and I understand how to communicate it to patients. This expertise comes, in part, from attending dental seminars. It was at one of these seminars that I learned another lesson from Jeff Haddad:

Dentists need to stop telling their patients that they will make them a bite guard, mouth guard, or night guard.

If your patients use those terms for what you do, correct them. Your dental patients will only value what you do to the extent that you help them understand the problems it solves for them and how it does so compared to other supposed solutions. You don’t need to teach them everything there is to know about occlusion or the ins and outs of sleep test diagnostic criteria, but if a patient calls the appliance that you provide a ‘mouthguard,’ you must correct them.

See the picture below. You’ll see two things. One is a mouthguard that will protect little Timmy’s teeth and lips if he gets hit on the little league field.

The other is an oral appliance custom-fitted to my teeth AND made following a careful analysis of my ideal jaw position. It helps me breathe at night while minimizing the negative impact on my occlusion. It eliminates my clenching at night. And, yes, it protects my teeth from damage caused by grinding.

gel max mouth oral appliance along side a mold of a bite

The difference is vast and will be important when the patient understands that you’re not just a dentist. You’re a sleep expert—a TMJ expert.

Communicate Your Capabilities and the Value You Bring

If you don’t help the patient understand the difference between the rubber chew toy that they may get from other dentists and the appliance that you create, that’s how much they will value it. This may even prevent them from saying ‘yes’ to your treatment.

Help them understand that if you use a Myotronics K-7 or any other diagnostic piece of equipment, this technology addresses the root cause of their problem, whereas a ‘nightguard’ is typically intended to keep them from damaging their teeth. You have to help them understand the limitations of the OTC grinding and sleep guards made by the same companies that make flossers.

Dr. Michael Miyasaki coaches dentists on K-7 jaw tracking analysis and bite impressions at a Myotronics seminar in Chicago.

[above: Dr. Michael Miyasaki coaches dentists on K-7 jaw tracking analysis and bite impressions at a Myotronics seminar in Chicago.]

Thankfully, Dr. Haddad told me that he didn’t know we could design a logo, print brochures, and do almost anything else that dental offices need. He didn’t know that, with our Pro Membership, we can quarterback any marketing initiative that they want to launch, and it was only because of our close relationship that it came to light. Again, ouch. But we’re now working even closer to build toward his goals beyond a website.

If you don’t have a similar conversation, your patient will probably stay ignorant and continue suffering, thinking that they can get what you offer at Walgreens or C.V.S. They probably tried that, and it didn’t work. Or, Heaven forbid, they tried it, and it seemed to help because their snoring lessened or their teeth stopped chipping. All the while, their headaches and jaw pain continue to build, and their bodies continue to suffer nightly oxygen deprivation.

You have to communicate that:

  • You and your team have expert training in treating (and in the case of TMJ, craniofacial pain disorders, diagnosing) their issue.
  • You’ve helped dozens/hundreds/thousands of people solve the same problem that the patient has.
  • Your technology, materials, and procedures create a device that solves problems rather than masking symptoms.

You could even go as far as buying a basket and filling it with over-the-counter appliances.

During consults, dump them on the table. Ask the patient if they know what all of these have in common.

They’ll say, ‘no.’

You then reveal, “They’re sold a couple of aisles down from the make-up and toys. Unfortunately, they won’t solve your problem and could even make it worse.”

sleep apnea oral appliance

The neuromuscular orthotic, oral appliance, or occlusal splint (I don’t love that last one, but can live with it) is different because it’s made to address the problems with their physiology in mind. It’s custom-made by TMJ and sleep experts!

Kurtis from ProSomnus Sleep Technologies along with dental marketing expert, Jonathan Fashbaugh

[above: Me and Kurtis from ProSomnus Sleep Technologies showing off our Micro02 and EVO sleep appliances for the camera at a Myotronics, inc event that Pro Impressions and ProSomnus both sponsored.]

If you liked this tidbit of advice, you’d love Jeff’s full course, presented as part of a suite of courses from Myotronic, inc. We sponsor their seminars but don’t have an affiliate relationship. We just want to work with more dentists who promote TMJ and sleep as the focus of their services. If that’s you and you need someone to quarterback your dental marketing, call us right now at (970) 672-1212 or schedule a consultation with me here.