How NOT to Get Business – Threaten Your Clients With the Law

Smiles4Keeps dentistry is facing all the backlash over a letter they sent to clients threatening to turn them in for neglect to children’s protective services if they didn’t schedule a dental appointment for their kids. Priding themselves on being a family dentistry, this dentist does have the right message, children’s hygiene is vital, but they’ve certainly displayed their feelings in the wrong way.

This certainly speaks to the fact that NO industry should ever threaten it’s customers in hopes of getting more business. That’s never been a marketing strategy for any business, let alone a dental practice. This dentistry company will have to rethink their marketing to ensure this doesn’t ruin their business and lose them clients. Perhaps they need to look at some of these proven dental marketing strategies instead. By using some of them, they’re more likely to gain more clients and earn themselves a good reputation if they market the business correctly. As many people fear the dentist, it’s important that they market softly to encourage people to visit their offices.
Original image posted by an understandably angry parent here:

What the letter says… as typed by a parent trying to keep this going and spread the word about this crazy letter:

“At Smiles 4 Keeps, our goal is to keep children as healthy as possible, through education, regular dental checkups, and timely treatment as needed. In order for us to do that, you must bring your child to one of our Smile Centers for regular professional cleanings and treatment.

According to law, failure to bring your child for dental care is considered neglect. Pennsylvania Act 31 (Child Abuse Reporting and Recognition Requirements) states that health care providers must report your failure to bring your child to the dentist for evaluation and care. A copy of Act 31 is enclosed for your reference. Smiles 4 Keeps has not reported your child’s outstanding dental treatment, as of yet. Since this law is in effect, we hope this letter encourages you to schedule an appointment to follow through with needed dental treatment for your child. If you need a second opinion on dental care, please also contact us with the name of your new provider. We would be happy to forward your your child’s records upon signing a release form if you’re thinking about using Dentist Indianapolis or another dental provider.

To keep your child as healthy as possible and avoid a report to state authorities, please call Smiles 4 Keeps immediately to schedule a treatment appointment within the next 30 days. With your help, Smiles 4 Keeps can continue to provide your child with quality dental care. Sincerely, Smiles 4 Keeps Pediatric Dentistry.”

The company addressed this now viral image here:

But the damage has been done. Errbody mad at this dentist office. WOWZA! Here’s the full text of the company’s response in case they delete this too (They’ve deleted ALL reviews, and many comments):

March 21 at 4:36pm ·
On March 19, a Facebook post inspired a series of comments from others in the Facebook community. We appreciate feedback from our patients and potential patients. However, the online conversation failed to remain focused on facts. Smiles4Keeps wishes to clarify the following points:

• The letter in question refers to dentists’ legal obligation to report dental neglect to the proper authorities. In its Guideline on Oral and Dental Aspects of Child Abuse and Neglect, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry defines the term and clarifies its importance. The full document is available for review here: Here is an excerpt:
Dental neglect, as defined by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, is the “willful failure of parent or guardian to seek and follow through with treatment necessary to ensure a level of oral health essential for adequate function and freedom from pain and infection.” Dental caries, periodontal diseases, and other oral conditions, if left untreated, can lead to pain, infection, and loss of function. These undesirable outcomes can adversely affect learning, communication, nutrition, and other activities necessary for normal growth and development.
• Letters that refer to dentists’ mandate to report failure to seek necessary treatment are sent under specific conditions. Letters are intended to remind parents and caregivers of the need for dental treatment for the child in question, and the letters are not sent unless attempts at multiple communications with the parents or guardians are unsuccessful or messages from our office remain unanswered. Letters are not sent after one missed treatment appointment.
• Every effort is made to schedule around each patient’s family or caregiver’s needs. We schedule siblings whenever possible for the convenience of the family. If a family misses multiple appointments, we reserve the right to schedule siblings separately to ensure that we care for as many children as possible.
• If a parent or guardian chooses to take a child who requires treatment to another provider, we ask for the name of the new treating dentist so we can record the information in the patient’s record. We remain responsible for the patient until the parent relays the name of the new dentist. We welcome the opportunity to support other medical and dental providers with the hope that all children receive the appropriate care they require in a timely manner.
• Upon request and written permission of the child’s parent or guardian, we transfer records to the new treating dentist.
• We love healthy smiles, and we are proud to help ensure that the children in our care receive the highest level of clinical excellence. Part of our job is caring for children who suffer from tooth decay and other oral health issues. When left untreated, these issues are likely to progressively worsen and affect the child’s overall health. Sometimes, when dental conditions are left untreated, the results can be fatal. Here is one unfortunate case in which a young man died because his tooth abscess remained untreated, and bacteria from the abscess spread to his brain:
• Tooth decay involves bacteria which has been fatal to some children (see news stories referenced above). Dental neglect may involve allowing bacterial infection to remain untreated, just as any untreated infection. First teeth determine the health of adult teeth. If decayed teeth remain untreated, new teeth will begin to decay more rapidly.
• In all 50 states, physicians and dentists are mandated reporters. This means that they are required to report suspected cases of abuse and neglect to social service or law enforcement agencies in order to prevent such tragedy. This is not unique to us. These laws are in place to protect children.
• Some Facebook reviews and posts were removed when many of them were in violation of Facebook’s user guidelines. Facebook’s policy can be found here: Other Facebook posts were removed because they constituted harassment or included hate speech, abusive language, profanity, and false accusations. We respect other people, and we ask that we are treated with respect as well.
• We are committed to providing healthcare to every child who is presented to us, regardless of the financial status of the child’s parent or caregiver. We proudly accept Medicaid, as well as other insurances, and we offer reasonable payment schedules for those who are financially challenged.