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How a new ‘golden age’ of dentistry is being driven by technology, extending care beyond the chair

How a new ‘golden age’ of dentistry is being driven by technology, extending care beyond the chair. (Image: Shutterstock / lucadp)

Thu. 11 May 2023


“UK dentistry sits at the forefront of innovation, and many British practices are outpacing their Australian and US contemporaries when it comes to early adoption of technological advances, such as digital scanners and use of artificial intelligence (AI) to power patient care”. So says Dr David Holmes, founder of FollowApp.Care, the pioneering technology which enables dental practices to create exemplary patient follow-up protocols, triggers new appointment bookings and online reviews. Here he discusses why more clinicians should embrace this new ‘golden age’ of dentistry.

Dr David Holmes.

“As innovators, the international perception of UK dental groups is particularly high. I work a lot in Australia, and they reference UK companies and talk about how they are further ahead, particularly in terms of practice co-ownership and they way they market themselves. When looking at the US, there are a number of ambitious UK Dental Support Organisations (DSOs) which are rapidly consolidating much in the same way as the US.  Then, looking at the way we are innovating and harnessing data and to create exemplary patient communications, I think there are many learnings and opportunities for dentists worldwide to use AI to better serve their patients just as forward looking practices in the UK are embracing.

Recently there’s been a huge step forward in understanding of what AI is and how it can be used following the advent of Chatgpt, but a lot of people are still nervous about their data being used to build algorithms, and to create AI. I believe those concerns are unfounded in dentistry… it can support dentists’ ambitions to improve outcomes for their patients and the performance of their business. So, I don’t think there’s much reason, if any, to be fearful.

For instance, AI can help practices drive much better online reviews – something that many dentists don’t pay enough attention to. Having a Google rating is like having a star rating on your digital front door; every time someone opens your door, they walk past that score. When people see a score of 4.78 or 4.95, they think you are a quality organisation. Drop below that – to 4.6 or 4.0 and they might start to be a little concerned. If you drop to between four, to 3.8 or below that’s really hard and doesn’t necessarily reflect the service or quality of care you offer, or the happiness of your patients. They might love you, but a few negative reviews online will mean those patients are walking past a three-star, digital front door.

Technology can help to drive reputation and extend care beyond the chair

One of the things we discovered recently in the FollowApp.Care community was the belief that people loathe dentists. A major dental provider gave a presentation that cited a study reporting that dentistry has a customer satisfaction Net Promotor score of one – something that FollowApp.Care calls a loyalty score. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The top performing practice we work with has a score in the mid to high 90s…even the lowest scoring practice is still above brands such as Apple, which would be in the 60s or 70s. I take a lot of pride in bursting these bubbles and transforming peoples’ perception of themselves and the profession.

Most of the time, as dentists, we are just desperate to please our patients and technology is here to support that. But it needs to be seamless and transformational -  ten times better than the status quo. I was taught that no news is good news but creating an open channel of communication flips that on its head; reaching out to patients after every visit to make sure they’re ok gives you a huge amount of peace-of-mind. Asking for feedback results in a constant flood of positive feedback, plus it helps you to manage when things don’t go well.

The catchphrase of one of our partners in Australia is ‘Extending care beyond the chair’ and it drives huge value for them in making sure their patients are okay post-procedure and avoids unnecessary complications.

The golden age of dentistry

I’m excited by technologies that are transformational and all of a sudden people are understanding it and can see the benefits. With the advent of digitisation and AI advancements, data is becoming more accessible for clinicians to optimise the way they run their practices. This makes me more optimistic about the future of dentistry.

When I first graduated my mentor told me the golden age of dentistry was ahead of us…he was right. I’m now hearing that again with the advent of digital technology and the transformational changes being brought about by AI automation – and I’m very excited to spend the rest of my career developing new applications in this space.”

How FollowApp.Care works

  1. Integration: Integrates with your practice management system to automatically extract the data needed to ensure appointment notifications trigger patient communications
  2. Communication: Makes patients feel cared for, while checking up on post procedural health, requesting feedback and prompting reviews.
  3. Results: Results are analysed and collated in the FollowApp.Care web application where clinics can resolve flagged issues or sit back and watch FollowApp.Care work for them by garnering improved Google reviews.

More than 5,000 dentists have already used FollowApp.Care - predominantly in the UK and Australia, and millions of patients have connected with them through the app. For more information please visit

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