By JONATHAN FINE
The words “healthy teeth, healthy heart” have been emblazoned on a fleet of vans run by dental supplier A-dec – the latest voice in a growing chorus singing the benefits of deeper oral health over quick-fix surface cosmetics.
People with gum disease are six times more likely to have a stroke and twice as likely to have a heart attack, and 45 per cent of adults have it.
Already for some Breathe members holistic healthcare is a key market positioner and it serves a growing appetite among patients for dental care that keeps one eye on their general health, as they feel overworked GPs can’t do this properly any more.
This kind of dentistry is about high quality communication and its arrival marks a subtle shift in the idea of how dentists see themselves; instead of standing for the mysterious black art of intervention – putting teeth in and taking teeth out – dentists can now step into the role of health mentor.
As you would have it, this role cracks open the lucrative wellbeing market for dentists, with all sorts of opportunities to collaborate with chiropractors, physiotherapists, nutritionists, masseurs, private GPs and more.
And it’s only going to get more exciting – in the next five years dentists will become the natural drivers of wheel and spoke operations with other health practitioners; they will be referring out while owning the health mentor brands and, crucially, owning the patient relationships.
Why? Because the emerging links between general health and oral health are real and entrepreneurial dentists will take advantage of them – they are, after all, better placed than any other group to fill the vacuum.
Meanwhile, demand for dental health mentors is only going to grow because awareness of the links is still low – at present only one in six people realise that gum disease may increase the risk of stroke or diabetes and only one in three is aware of the heart disease link.
If you’d like to discuss how your practice can build a business strategy around this nascent opportunity call me on 07860 672727.