Not many dentists would consider giving away £20,000 worth of treatment to be a sensible way of running a practice. Nor would they also want to spend over 50 hours of their time just to decide who would get the free work.
But Stricklands Dental Fitness Centre in Haslemere, Surrey, is definitely not your average dental practice. It is forward-thinking, innovative and has a great team on board, including Practice Manager of the Year 2006 Lesley Turner.
Here, Lesley explains why and how the practice decided to invest so much time and money in a competition, and how it has benefited from the process. . .
TV makeover programmes have become extremely popular over the last few years, and there is little doubt that many of our patients enjoy watching them. In fact, they will often ask if we saw such-and-such a programme which featured a particularly stunning dental makeover.
But we have also noticed that many people don’t realise that they too can benefit from such smile makeovers. They think it is well out of the reach of their budget, that they would have to go to Harley Street for the treatment, or that such procedures are only suitable for the rich and famous.
As a practice with a strong focus on aesthetic dentistry, we wanted to let people in our area know that not only is the same high quality and type of dentistry available out of London, but also that it is achievable for many different types of people, not just those in the public eye.
We discussed these issues as a team and also spoke to our marketing partners, Blue Horizons, and eventually decided that a competition would be a great way of achieving our goals.
We knew that, if handled well, we could get lots of publicity from it in the local media, and also get some fantastic results that would show people exactly what we could achieve.
We decided to really go to town with the competition and make it not just a dental makeover but a total makeover – and for four winners, not just one.
We began by approaching other independent top-quality businesses in the area to see if they would like to become involved. Chris Howe Ceramics from Sunbury-on-Thames agreed to do all the lab work for us, and we were also joined by a top hairdressing salon, make-up and beauty experts, an independent boutique and wedding attire specialists, plus a professional photographer for the before-and-after photos.
Adding more to the prize reinforced the message that facilities, products and expertise are available locally without having to go to the capital. As we are an award-winning practice ourselves, it was important for us to work with other suitably experienced professionals.
Once all the details were in place, it was time to start working with the press. Initially we designed and placed an advert in four local papers, ran a series of adverts on a local radio station and of course promoted the competition within the practice.
We received just under 100 entries. Some of the people were so keen to win that they wrote to us on a daily basis telling us why we should choose them. Each entrant was given a full dental examination with X-rays and asked a series of pre-planned questions. This took half an hour for each person. We coped with the extra workload by working longer hours for a week, but it was exhausting.
Once the interviews were over, we needed to decide who would win. Many letters were heartbreaking and the final verdicts were very difficult. We based our decisions on a number of indicators, including the impact treatment would have on their smile, how long the treatment would take, how flexible the entrants could be with their time, and the content of their letters.
The radio embraced our competition wholeheartedly, running news stories and interviewing one of the winners, while we also had coverage in the local newspapers. It really was worthwhile. The experience brought the team closer together, we worked hard and it was great to follow the patients’ journeys.
We are already seeing some of the benefits coming through. Our profile has risen and we are gaining more new patients as the word is being spread about our dentistry.
I would recommend running a similar promotion to any practice which is serious about attracting more cosmetic work and is prepared to put in the hard graft behind the scenes.
• Candi presented with heavily filled, worn and dark upper front teeth. Because of her high lipline, the upper teeth showed as much or more than her lower front teeth when smiling – which she was reluctant to do.
Dentist Simon Allen de-rotated and lengthened her standing teeth with direct composite and took an alginate impression of them. Next he prepared the six teeth, using a silicone putty mould, cut vertically with a scalpel as a preparation guide. It became obvious that the standing restorations were failing and so he did them again using bonded HFO composites. After completing the preps, the alginate was used to construct and fit Protemp acrylic composite temporaries. The shade, A1, was far lighter than the
original upper and lower teeth.
Candi was given custom-made bleachguards for two weeks, which was followed by scaling and polishing and a Zoom power bleaching session. At review one week later the natural teeth were lighter than the temporaries. Secondary preparation and special tray impressions were taken and definitive crowns constructed. At the same time, two existing bonded crowns were removed from upper and lower right first molars as Simon felt these to be aesthetically displeasing, while porcelain fused to metal crowns made to winged preparations were fitted.
Candi had wanted the work done ahead of her son’s wedding next year. She said afterwards: ‘For the whole of my life I have hidden my teeth when I talk by putting my hand in front of my mouth. I now feel proud and confident and will definitely be smiling in my son’s wedding photographs.’
• Donna presented with an extreme Class 2 over jet. The appearance was made worse by the fact that both central incisors were non-vital and very dark.
After study models and facebow, a wax-up suggested that a dramatic improvement could be made by removing the upper incisors and simply constructing a four-unit fixed bridge using uppers 2’s as retainers.
Dentist John Pereiea removed the teeth and performed a minor alveolar surgery to reduce the prominence of the bucial plate. An immediate temporary bridge was cemented with temp bond. This was removed and modified at weekly intervals in order to create satisfactory ovate pontics on the ridge. After six weeks, final impressions were taken for the definitive bridge, which was cemented one week later. The whole process took less than two months.
Donna said afterwards: ‘This has been a life changing experience. I just cannot stop smiling.’
• Mark attended for examination complaining that his teeth were very dark and that his upper right lateral incisor was broken down. He felt that his poor dental appearance was affecting his confidence and success in life.
Analysis showed that he had dark yellow teeth; a root filled UR2 which had lost its composite restoration; chipped and poorly aligned upper anterior teeth and missing LL5 and LL6. He felt that his function was unimpaired in the lower left and did not want any more treatment than was necessary to remove any pathology and improve his smile.
After much discussion between Mark and dentist Darren Jones, it was decided that we would give Mark some intensive hygiene work, repair his UR2 and place a Procera crown following Zoom bleaching. Finally, his defective composite margins were polished and his incisors adjusted to achieve a more symmetrical appearance.
‘I am getting married so I’m very pleased and grateful,’ he said. ‘I feel I can smile now and I won’t let my fiancée down.’
• Katherine’s main concern was her ugly, discoloured and crooked front teeth. She has worked extremely hard to maintain oral health to a high standard so that although she has suffered severe recession due to periodontal disease in the past, this is now stable.
Her initial treatment involved whitening of her lower teeth using custom-made bleachguards and 10% carbamide peroxide. Dentist Dr Colin Frazer restored the upper front six teeth using empress veneers. Katherine was keen to keep the treatment to a minimum, so a decision to leave the buccal corridors was taken.
Although she is delighted with the results, Colin would like to consider veneers in this area at a later date. Katherine said: ‘I have always kept my mouth closed but now I am happy to smile and show my new teeth.’
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