Don't miss a digital issue! Renew/subscribe for FREE today.
Inside Dentistry
September 2023
Volume 19, Issue 9

The Benefits of Oral Wellness Membership Programs

Marketing to small businesses can help them attract and retain talent while boosting your profits

Michael Cruz

Small businesses constantly struggle with recruitment and retention efforts. As many will attest, this struggle has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic because companies across all industries continue to face challenges regarding finding the right talent and keeping these individuals invested. Although it can be difficult for small businesses to compete with large corporations, which are often able to offer more varied incentives and benefits, small businesses do have an advantage—they are more agile and have the ability to get creative. Finding effective ways to entice job seekers is not easy, but it is possible. One of the creative ways that employers can attract and retain talent is by offering their staff an oral wellness membership program.

For dental practices, offering oral wellness membership programs can help to increase revenue and patient numbers. Although there are many models with different offerings and price points available in the marketplace, our practice started offering a membership program with no deductibles, limits, or restrictions to our patients who do not have traditional dental insurance to help them stay up to date on visits. This enables us to catch problems earlier while they are minor and less expensive. These programs invest in patients' long-term health and work to alleviate unexpected, expensive bills that some may not be able to afford otherwise.

Promoting the Program

In addition to promoting our oral wellness membership program to individuals who do not have traditional dental insurance, we're focused on marketing it to small businesses as a health benefit option. This can be a great way for practices to both acquire new patients and increase revenue.

When discussing a membership program with potential participating small businesses, it's important to highlight the benefits that it will provide to their employees and how it can help them retain their top talent. In a recent MetLife study of trends in the benefits of US employees, 73% of the participants reported that a wider offering of employee benefits would make them stay at their current place of employment longer.1 The study's researchers concluded that COVID-19 shifted the priorities of employees because they had time to reevaluate what was important to them in their daily lives. According to the data, employees prioritize health insurance, 401(k) or similar retirement savings plans, dental insurance, and paid leave as the most important benefits.1

For small businesses that cannot afford to offer traditional, large-scale health insurance plans, it's important to find ways to provide employees with alternative benefits. Providing dental benefits through a membership program can have a significant impact on a business's productivity by reducing the number of days that employees miss work due to illness. For example, approximately 321 million hours of work and school are missed per year due to dental problems.2 Oral wellness membership programs also have wide appeal to consumers. According to a report from the Kaiser Family Foundation, an estimated 41% of US adults face healthcare debt, and 12% of them owe $10,000 or more.3 The top five most common bills that led to this healthcare debt were those for laboratory fees or diagnostic tests, doctor visits, emergency care, dental care, and hospitalization.

Strategies for Success

For dental practices that want to offer oral wellness membership programs, whether it's just to individual patients or also to small businesses, it's important to get the entire team on board regarding understanding the mission and the reasons why the practice believes in the program. At our practice, our "why" is to help our patients stay healthy. We have seen many patients with traditional dental insurance who come in regularly for their routine hygiene visits and experience minimal issues suddenly stop coming in because they lost their dental insurance for one reason or another. For some of these patients, missing regular visits leads to the development of more severe issues, which results in a rise in the need for emergency services and more expensive treatments.

It's also important for a practice to choose or design an oral wellness membership program with a structure and options that fit with its operations in order to be successful. Sometimes, when patients see a no-cost program, it seems almost too good to be true, and they question its legitimacy. In addition, practice owners need to determine if they want to manage the membership program in house or have an outside party handle the logistics on their behalf so they can focus exclusively on providing patient services and care.

Make Your Vision a Reality

At our dental practice, our vision statement envisions a world where people "live longer and smile more." We believe that we exist to make that a reality for all of our patients. Providing all individuals with an affordable, lower cost option to help maintain their oral hygiene through an oral wellness membership program helps us fulfill that vision, and marketing it to small businesses helps us to further increase our practice's patients and revenue in the process. If you already offer a membership program, consider the ways in which you can expand it, such as by promoting it to small businesses. If you don't offer a membership program, consider how to best structure one for your operations. Whatever your practice's vision, offering the right membership program can help you accomplish it.


1. MetLife's 20th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study 2022. The Rise of the Whole Employee: 20 years of change in employer-employee dynamics. MetLife website. Accessed July 14, 2023.

2. Kelekar U, Naavaal S. Hours lost to planned and unplanned dental visits among US adults. Prev Chronic Dis. 2018;15(1):E04.

3. Lopes L, Kearney A, Montero A, et al. Health care debt in the U.S.: the broad consequences of medical and dental bills. KFF website. Published June 16, 2022. Accessed July 14, 2023.

About the Author

Michael Cruz is the chief operations officer at Dee for Dentist, a Las Vegas-based family practice. He is also the owner of a coaching/consulting business where he helps fellow entrepreneurs reach their full potential.

© 2023 BroadcastMed LLC | Privacy Policy