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Websites a ‘no-brainer’ for dental practices

Googling Dr. John Nosti yields more than 47,000 results.

Obviously, most of those websites are not related to the Dr. Nosti whose dental practices are in New Jersey. But websites containing that same Dr. Nosti occupy much of the first page of results and the coveted top three spots, making it easy for prospective patients to find information about his practice.

By clicking on www.cosmeticdentistryofsj.com, a consumer arrives at a bright blue webpage filled with information about the practice of Dr. Nosti and his partners, Drs. Milton Noveck and Steven Katz. There are profiles on each of the dentists; patient testimonials; information about teeth whitening, porcelain veneers and temporomandibular joint disorder; pictures of full mouth reconstructions; before and after photos of patients; and directions for how to contact the practice. It’s a one-stop search for people deciding whether to visit Dr. Nosti’s practice for their oral health needs.

In Dr. Nosti’s opinion, patients use the Internet to find dentists more frequently than the phone book. He believes his robust website gives him an edge when it comes to attracting those patients.

“There’s just no way that I could see it possible that someone is going to choose the dentist without the practice website over the dentist with the practice website,” Dr. Nosti said. “I don’t see how you can be seen as up to date if you don’t have a website.”

Dr. Nosti is not alone in his opinions. More and more, dentists are beginning to see the advantages of creating a positive image in cyberspace.

Image: Dr. Marc Marlette
Dr. Marlette

“Your website is your communications hub,” said Dr. Stephen Glenn, chair of the ADA Council on Dental Practice. “It attracts new patients, builds patient loyalty, engages existing patients, enhances your reputation and is an opportunity to educate the public on oral health issues.”

Take Dr. Marc Marlette, who practices at Marlette Family Dentistry in Florence, Ky. He hired Officite to develop a website for his joint practice about two and a half years ago.

“I wanted to bring our practice into a more modern age,” Dr. Marlette said. “I knew everything I was getting was off the Internet and our practice wasn’t there yet.”

So he hired Officite, a website development company that is the first provider selected by the ADA to offer web-based ADA patient education brochures and Toothflix videos. Dr. Marlette said the process of developing the website with Officite was easy; it took longer for him to decide what information he wanted online than it did for the company to create the site.

Dr. Marlette said his practice has grown since launching the website but he’s not sure yet if the two are connected. Either way, he’s delighted he’s been able to keep his patients informed about all of the services his practice can provide.

“It’s great to be able to refer our patients to the website, where they can download a health history form to fill out instead of us mailing it,” Dr. Marlette said.

Marlette Family Dentistry’s website, www.nkysmiles.com, features a place to submit questions, online appointment requests, photos and bios for each staff member and a patient education section, including an ADA Patient Library provided through Officite, with information on various oral health topics and procedures.

Image: Dr. Edward Zuckerberg
Dr. Zuckerberg
“It helps you communicate with your patients,” Dr. Marlette said. “Your patients get to know you better and plus, it’s real estate we’re all going to be at. We’re all going to be on the Web eventually.”

Dr. Edward Zuckerberg was an early adopter of technology. Which is not surprising considering his son, Mark Zuckerberg, founded Facebook.

“Fortunately, my kids have gone way past any computer abilities I may have and now they are my go-to people to steer me toward what I need,” said Dr. Zuckerberg, who practices in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.

Dr. Zuckerberg has had a website for his practice since the late 1990s, before most people had broadband Internet access.

“A website to me was a no-brainer; an obvious thing to do,” Dr. Zuckerberg said. “It’s just a way to get information about me out to the public and my customers.”

The tagline for Dr. Zuckerberg’s website, www.painlessdrz.com, says he is “catering to cowards and dental phobics of all ages for over 30 years utilizing the latest technologies for your comfort and optimum oral health.”

The website has before and after shots of teeth; medical history, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and financial policy forms for new patients to download; a running blog with updates on new equipment and services at the practice; and soon, Dr. Zuckerberg will offer a virtual tour of his office.

Not surprisingly, Dr. Zuckerberg also actively promotes his practice through a Facebook page, www.facebook.com/painlessdrz, offering incentives for patients who “like” his page or who become fans.

“If you’ve got a little savvy, there are tools out there for you to promote your practice for next to nothing,” Dr. Zuckerberg said.

It used to be that dentists had to spend money to purchase advertisements in the Yellow Pages in order to promote their practices. And some still do. But it’s the belief of those on the cutting edge of technology that paper ads will be eliminated very quickly.

“There are no more Yellow Pages,” Dr. Marlette said. “It is all Google and Internet searches. So the sooner you get yourself more comfortable in that neighborhood and established, the better it is.”