So, we’re not lawyers.
Not even close. But we’ve seen enough practice owners make this one simple marketing mistake that we want to throw up a warning sign — because making it can lead to legal trouble (or worse, perhaps, getting sanctioned by your licensing board).
Here it is: Too often, a dentist will advertise him or herself as “the number one dentist in [insert neighborhood/town/city name].”
Seems harmless, right? A little presumptuous, maybe. Bold, definitely. But harmless.
However, there is no ranking mechanism for dentists. For now, at least, there is no official way to figure out whether one dentist is better than another — and while dental AI offers the possibility of changing that in the future, such a day has not yet arrived.
This means that if you’re calling yourself “the number one dentist,” you’re making a claim you can’t back up with evidence. And that’s false advertising.
Now, word on the street from practice owners (and dental lawyers like Dykema’s Brian Colao) is that single-location practices don’t usually have to worry about prosecution here. The authorities are too busy going after big fish (see Aspen Dental’s $3.5M settlement with the Attorney General of Massachusetts for one cautionary tale) to care about small potatoes.
The real consequences come from fellow practice owners who take issue with a rival’s advertising — and promptly report them to the dental board. That’s a headache no one needs.
Fortunately, there’s a simple fix here. If you want to brag about your ability as a dentist (and for better or worse, there’s little room for modesty in marketing), then instead of making an unsubstantiated claim, trot out one that has some evidence behind it.
Don’t call yourself the “number one dentist.” Put your Google review rating front and center and declare yourself a “five-star rated dentist on Google.”
As long as you’ve got the reviews to back it up, no one can argue with you. And your statement will carry more weight with potential patients because you’re giving them actual social proof.
Steer clear of a cease and desist letter and strengthen your marketing at the same time? That’s a win in our book.