Now on YouTube: Day at the dentist
More informative videos are posted
YouTube, famous for its entertaining clips, now has a growing list of informative videos, too, posted by experts on many subjects - including dentistry.
A few enterprising dentists with a bit of the auteur in them have created discussions and demonstrations of root canals and other dental procedures for YouTube in unscripted, live takes with patients. The videos may turn out to be useful marketing tools, promoting the dentists' abilities, and attracting new customers to their practice.
Dr. Jerry Gordon, a dentist in Bensalem, Pa., (dentalcomfortzone.com) is the director and star of the video, "Root Canal Demonstration." Looking relaxed and friendly, Gordon explains the ins and outs of the procedure, treating a real patient, and showing each of the steps from painless injection to completion.
The video, which runs nearly 10 minutes, was shot by a local videographer and cost about $2,000. It has been viewed more than 11,000 times in the two months since it was put up.
"Do not be afraid of root canal," Gordon says at the end, as the patient, who has looked remarkably calm throughout the procedure, heads for home. "This is not an actor," he adds. "This is real and this is live."
Images like that may do a lot to banish lingering thoughts of sadistic movie dentists like the ones played by Laurence Olivier in "Marathon Man" or Steve Martin in "Little Shop of Horrors." Gordon said that his patients liked the videos, shown first on his website and later on YouTube. "People are genuinely appreciative of the information," he said.
The videos have also turned out to be good for business. "They've definitely been a strong positive for the practice," he said. "Ultimately, a video on YouTube can drive some local people to your website."
Some of them might become patients. Gordon has been keeping track of people who came to him through the Web, both before and after YouTube. In 2006, before he started posting videos on YouTube, 26 patients found him through his own website. Since then, the number from the Web has grown to 68.
Gordon is a bit ahead of most of his colleagues in adapting to the ways of Internet video. But other dentists may soon join him, especially if they have success with standard, static Web pages.
Dr. Kristy Vetter, for instance, who has a dental practice in Laguna Niguel, Calif., opened a website on Valentine's Day (drvettersmiles.com). It showed results immediately, she said. People who typed "Laguna Niguel Dentist" into search engines seeking local dentists found her site, and some of them later went to her office.
"We've had three to five patients in the last month or so that came that way, instead of by referral," she said.
The website reassured patients. "Going to the dentist is kind of scary," Vetter said. "This way, people check us out, and see the staff and the offices before they actually get here. They can fill out forms first. They feel like they know the place. It makes them comfortable."
She says she thinks that adding video clips might do an even better job of showing off the business. "Every time I see my Web designer, she bugs me to do it," she said.
Not all video clips on YouTube are reassuring. Some of the clinical tutorials on surgical procedures - dental implants, for instance - may be too gory for some people. That is one of the reasons that Dr. Roger P. Levin, chief executive of the Levin Group, a dental consulting firm in Owings Mills, Md., is skeptical of the overall prospects for dental videos.
"I don't see videos of dental procedures on YouTube turning into much of a marketing tool," he said. "Most people simply don't want to see how our procedures are done."
Still, people are visiting YouTube in increasing numbers for technical information, and not just about root canals. "We're seeing an uptick in these types of instructional videos," said Julie Supan, YouTube's spokeswoman, like tutorials on math and wine-making and one of her favorites - on how to play the harmonica.
"People are drawn to this kind of information."