The Practice Building Block You May Be Missing

In Inspiration by Fern Ingber

Establishing and growing a new dental practice is no easy feat. It takes an incredible amount of time, effort and investment to select the right location, build a high-performing team and market your services, let alone actually treat patients. So it’s no surprise that there’s little time to focus on anything else. But there is a valuable part of practice building that many dental professionals overlook, even though it could be your practice’s best marketing strategy.

This valuable practice building tool is known by many different terms—philanthropy, social responsibility, giving back, etc., but I like to call it “doing well by doing good”.

So how does a focus on doing good for your community actually help build your practice? It helps you …

  1. Build a positive reputation. Think patients come through your practice door only because of the quality services you provide? Wrong! Your services are only one part of the equation. When choosing a dentist, potential patients are influenced by a wide variety of factors from recommendations from family and friends to the façade of your practice building to the quality of your website. How you care for your community is extremely important to many patients–and can be the deciding factor in why they choose you as their dental provider. Younger patients, particularly Millennials, often choose to give their dollars only to businesses that give back to those in need.
  1. Earn patient loyalty. Loyal patients who speak well of you and your practice are worth their weight in gold. Coupling an excellent patient experience with the good feelings that come from supporting a good cause can be a powerful combination in building patient loyalty. That valuable “word-of-mouth” buzz can help you grow your practice and hold on to your loyal patients over time.
  1. Retain your most valued employees. Studies show that employees perform better and are more committed to employers that give back to their communities. Creating opportunities for employees to gain meaning in their work and connect to a larger mission can create strong employee morale. Helping employees feel good about their employer through community engagement or supporting a good cause can help you retain your most valued team members.

Taking Action

So what does it look like for you as a dental practice to do good in your community? Here are a few ideas:

  • Engage your team in oral health education for local children. You and your team are the experts in dental health! Use your professional expertise for a good cause by providing youth at local schools or after-school programs an oral health lesson and exposing them to careers in dentistry.
  • Donate services for families in need through Give Kids A Smile Day or a Mission of Mercy event in your community.
  • Establish a “Month of Giving” where you donate a portion of sales to a charity serving vulnerable children and families.
  • Increase sales of additional services like teeth whitening by donating a portion of the patient’s service fee to a dental charity.
  • Become a Practice of Distinction. Through this program, America’s ToothFairy provides leadership recognition and community engagement resources to help you involve your entire team in integrating a philanthropic component into your practice mission.
  • Hold a Smile Drive. Each February, for National Children’s Dental Health Month, America’s ToothFairy invites dental practices to collect and donate oral care products for underserved children. We provide a free promotional toolkit and you choose a local shelter, Boys and Girls Club, or other local charity to receive your products.

A few questions to ponder:

  • In what ways is my practice building a reputation for caring? How can I position my practice to attract additional positive publicity?
  • Is my practice earning patient loyalty through a commitment to philanthropy? How can I ensure my patients are aware of how my practice gives back?
  • Am I doing everything I can to retain my most valuable team members? Have I provided opportunities for us as a team to connect to a meaningful cause together?

Now it’s your turn! Share how you are integrating compassion and philanthropy into your practice mission.


Author Bio:

Fern Ingber

President & CEO

America’s ToothFairy: National Children’s Oral Health Foundation

Fern Ingber is the founding President and CEO of America’s ToothFairy: National Children’s Oral Health Foundation, a national non-profit organization working to eliminate children’s pain and suffering from pediatric dental disease and improve quality of life for underserved children.  Since its founding in 2006, America’s ToothFairy has impacted the lives of millions of children by improving access to vital oral health education, preventive services and treatment. Learn more at