Many orthodontists rely on three to five referring dentists for the majority of their referrals. This observation is based on working with orthodontists for more than 25 years.

The problem with this scenario is that the loss of one grade-A referring doctor can be devastating. It happens. Dentists retire, relocate, or refer to someone else. In addition, many GPs continue to add orthodontics to their service mix.

Evaluate your referring doctors and their referral patterns. You want to maintain strong relationships with your A doctors, but also take a good look at your B and C referring dentists. While referring a fair amount of referrals to your practice, B’s usually divide referrals among two or more orthodontists. C’s are those dentists who refer infrequently to your practice.

Is there an opportunity to upgrade a B referring dentist to an A, or a C referrer to a B-level or higher? When was the last time your office had contact with these practices or met these doctors face-to-face?

Once these referral relationships are established, you may assume they will remain the same throughout your career. Once a C referrer, always a C referrer, goes the thinking of some orthodontists. Those kinds of perceptions can be a self-fulfilling prophecy and prevent you from building better relationships with your B and C doctors.

Put together a plan to reach out more frequently to your B and C doctors. Over a 6-month period, try to have contact with the dentist or the office at least once a month. If it can be arranged, you should have one face-to-face meeting during this time. You might be surprised how much has changed regarding these dentists and their other referral relationships.

—Roger P. Levin, DDS

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