Credibility Is Everything

fillings-As dentists, we are in a rather unique business.  Despite massive and coordinated (and to some degree, successful) efforts to commoditize dentistry, it’s undeniable that we provide one of the most personal services for patients.  We are literally “in their faces.”  We work on a very intimate and sensitive part of the body.  And, they’re awake for all of it.

Credibility and trust are a big part of what we “sell.”  Patients aren’t buying tertiary occlusal anatomy with tripodization of the contacts.  They aren’t buying sealed crown margins.  They’re buying YOU.

This morning, a nice woman walked in.  She wanted to set up an appointment for her 13 year old daughter.  I happened to walk up to the front desk, and my office manager introduced us.  Her daughter had braces, which have been removed.  She’s had some cosmetic bonding, but she’s not happy with it.  She cries every day.  Mom (who used to work for a local orthodontist) went online to research a new dentist.

They live in a nearby “foo-foo” city that is FULL of “cosmetic dentists.”  I’m about 10 miles north.

She told us she spent five hours online last night.  If I may be so blunt and unrefined… There is a CRAPLOAD of dentists much closer to where she lives.  I asked her why she picked us out of all the others.LB2-She said, “I don’t care who you’ve treated, or which celebrities or superstars are your patients.  But, when I saw your PICTURES of exactly what my daughter has, and how you were able to correct it, I knew I found the right place.”  She then went on about the fact that the photos on my website are my own cases.  She was very excited.  I wish I could have recorded the conversation!

I’ve long advocated the use of digital intraoral (and extraoral) photography in the dental practice.  Practical uses include:

  • Patient education.
  • Medico-legal documentation.
  • Monitoring of lesions / pathology.
  • Before & afters of cosmetic cases.
  • Lab communication.  A biggie!
  • Insurance claim submissions (when an x-ray just won’t do it).
  • Marketing!


Today’s patients are more savvy and are often looking for something specific when they use Google to find a new dentist.  However, if your website is little more than canned content and stock photos provided by your website developer, then you’ve basically got a fancy “yellow pages” ad.  It won’t distinguish you or your practice as being uniquely qualified for that patient’s needs.

Personalized, self-created content is very powerful.  Quality photos of your own cases to back up that content is marketing GOLD.  They say, “The proof is in the pudding.”  If you’ve got the chops, then you need to SHOW your website visitors.

SK-ortho4-2Get yourself a digital SLR with a macro lens and macro flash (and some good intraoral photo mirrors).  That will get you started with intraoral photography.  Then consider setting up a “studio” with the proper lighting, if you want to do “glamor photography.”  I would recommend taking a course on dental photography, such as the one my friend Dr. Jason Olitsky offers.  Tell him I sent you!  (I have no financial interest.)

It does take a lot of time and effort to get photos that can be used in online marketing efforts.  But, it’s worth it!  Get started!   Take photos!  Lots of them!  Yesterday would be good!

PS….   I saw the 14 y.o. girl mentioned above.  Click on Go Ahead.  Make my Day.

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