The Formula for a Successful Orthodontic Practice

By Roger P. Levin, DDS


COVID-19 has been a game changer. Practices have had to shut down, use new technologies such as teledentistry, and reopen with new regulations, anxious team members, and concerned patients. As many people have observed, we have officially moved into a new normal.

The good news is that the business model for a successful orthodontic practice remains both unchanged and uncomplicated. Orthodontic practices that have enough people calling for potential consults, making appointments after the consult, and accepting treatment to be successful. It’s really just simple math. Leads + Consults = Starts.

What helps make this simple formula work are your systems. It’s essential for the team to follow the systems and scripting in exactly the same way every single time in order to reach the highest levels of efficiency. So in the wake of COVID-19, systemizing, rethinking, reorganizing, and re-scripting your operations is critical. This can be easily accomplished by redesigning systems and scripting to focus solely on the recovery, with high compassion and consideration for patient safety, health, and financial options. Consider the following adjustments to leads, consults, and starts:

  • Leads are as a sales term. It simply refers to how many people have expressed some level of interest in making a purchase from a business. In this case, it’s having orthodontic treatment. Every non-patient that contacts the orthodontic practice is a lead. Leads are generated by broad-based marketing programs that focus on five key areas—patients, parents, referring doctors, social media, and the community. In the post-COVID-19 era, referring doctors should be elevated to a much higher level of importance because they can support orthodontic practices with much bigger numbers than any other single referral area. We have seen many practices gain anywhere from $80,000 to $200,000 of annual new patient revenue from a single referring doctor. Orthodontic practices will now need to contribute to the success of referring doctors with the understanding that if they make their customers more successful, they will be more successful as well.

  • Patient concerns are now radically different and treatment coordinators need complete retraining to be able to address those concerns. Patients seeking orthodontic treatment will make decisions based not only on health and cosmetics, but safety and finances. The TC that was successful in February 2020 will not be successful now unless new training, scripting, psychology, and communication skills replace the old approach. TCs need to develop a high level of compassion, a strong internal desire to help people, the ability to positively negotiate affordable treatment options, and a laser focus on follow-up.

  • Orthodontic practices that have enough starts will survive COVID-19 and move quickly back into profitability. However, they must keep in mind that the ability to create starts in a good economy is very different than the ability to create starts in a bad economy. Practices must to revisit their approach to patients. This would include expanding financial options, increasing patient financing by 500 to 600%, expanding payment plan time frames, and tracking collections based on these new offerings.

During your recovery, leads, consults, and starts will only get you so far without revamping your systems, scripting, and approach. We recommend using the strategies outlined above to improve your ability to capture leads, turn them into consults, and move them into being a start.

Roger P. Levin, DDS is the CEO and Founder of Levin Group, a leading practice management consulting firm that has worked with over 30,000 practices to increase production. A recognized expert on dental practice management and marketing, he has written 67 books and over 4,000 articles and regularly presents seminars in the U.S. and around the world. To contact Dr. Levin or to join the 40,000 dental professionals who receive his Practice Production Tip of the Day, visit or email

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