Can social media ease the fear of a visit to the dentist?

Many practices sinking their teeth into Twitter, Facebook and Groupon to soothe jittery patients and attract new clients.

Having a cavity filled or getting one’s braces adjusted is, for many, a nerve-racking experience.

Some dentists and orthodontists—about half, according to a recent survey—have discovered they can ease patients into their offices with what they say through tweets, Facebook fan pages and Groupon offers.

The message?

Pamela Waterman, co-author of The Braces Cookbook, says orthodontists and dentists need to understand that social media is a key way to communicate with young patients. “It reaches them round-the-clock in the way they are most comfortable interacting,” she says. “It’s personal without being in-your-face, and lets the orthodontist share interesting news and events to all patients simultaneously.”

Getting involved, with varying results

Canton decided to offer a Groupon in August after Clark talked with friends who owned restaurants and had seen big successes using the site.

“We really wanted to reach the demographic that doesn’t usually come to the dentist,” she says, particularly younger people who don’t have dental insurance.

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