By Roger P. Levin, DDS

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Although orthodontists acknowledge the importance of good communication with GPs, they don’t necessarily do enough to bring it about. In a slow economy, orthodontists cannot afford to neglect any referrer.

Several strategies need to be put in place to enhance orthodontist/general dentist communication:

  1. Call two or three GPs each day and update them on patients. Although these calls may not be critical to the success of cases, they are an important aspect of maintaining a referral relationship. Remember: if referring doctors aren’t hearing from you, they’re not thinking of you.
  1. Treat routine get-togethers as opportunities, not just obligations. Always bring a printout showing all the patients you are treating from that practice and any updates on specific cases. Reviewing radiographs and models allows you to demonstrate your expertise and concerns about patient care.
  1. Meet with new referral sources as soon as they refer the first patient. Get together with these GPs, thank them for referring and explain the philosophy of your practice and your commitment to excellent orthodontics. Also, let dentists know that their young patients will be welcome for ortho treatment assessment at no cost.
  1. Referring doctors won’t necessarily refer in the future. Simply doing a great job will not automatically keep the referrals coming from a particular doctor. Build an ongoing relationship with referring doctors. This means letters, phone calls, meetings, and other social activities.

Ortho practices cannot afford to lose referring doctors due to ineffective communication. Effective, consistent contact is vital for maintaining relationships and increasing referrals.

Even in the midst of a difficult economy, many orthodontists have been able to increase production through the effective use of referral marketing. Ortho practices that take referrals for granted will continue to suffer. Ortho practices that maintain and enhance relationships with GPs will prosper.

levin To learn how to run a more profitable, efficient and satisfying practice, visit the Levin Group Resource Center at You can also connect with Levin Group on Facebook and Twitter (@Levin_Group) to learn strategies and share ideas.